Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots
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Developer: Kojima Productions
North American Release Date: 06/12/2008
European Release Date: 06/12/2008
Trophies: 1 | 5 | 9 | 19
On June 12, 2008, Kojima finished and released one of his most ambitious projects ever: Metal Gear Solid 4. The game was the culmination of years of hard work and a decade-long series that began in 1998 with the release of the original Metal Gear Solid for the PlayStation. With the protagonist of the decade-long series, Solid Snake, being on his final days, was Kojima’s effort worth it?
The gameplay is hugely based on that of MGS3: Subsistence’s, featuring an over-the-shoulder camera similar to that of Third Person Shooters, letting you scan the area effectively, move and shoot whatever weapons you’re carrying with you without much problems. Additionally, you can always aim on a First Person mode, in case you want to be more accurate because you’re trying to shoot far-away enemies. This control scheme is not only better than that of previous MGS games in the sense that it lets you move while standing, lying down or crouching and easily aim in any of those positions (even after being knocked down), but it’s also simple to remember and very effective.
Inspired by Snake Eater’s stamina gauge, MGS4 features a Psyche gauge, which will drain depending on different actions performed by Snake, like being chased, being hurt non-lethally (punches or tranquilizing darts), being stuck on a smelly place like a garbage bin for too long, etc. Draining the Psyche gauge too much will lead to Snake to get stressed, which results in a difficulty to aim correctly and to more often back pains. This not only asks the player to be more careful and thoughtful of what he does throughout the game, but also gives Snake an actual reason to smoke for the first time in the series.
The gameplay's improvement upon that of MGS3: Subsistence makes it one of the best I've played.
The game, like previous ones, focuses more on stealth than on action, so evading your enemies will once again be your primary objective throughout the different acts, since being discovered will usually lead to an Alert-phase in which the enemies will constantly look out for you and try to kill you. In order to evade them, the game has some new features that’ll help you out.
Following the success of Snake Eater’s camouflage system, MGS4 followed suit by adding the OctoCamo, which is a sneaking suit used by Snake in order to blend in with his environment. Whenever Snake presses himself against a wall or surface (say, the floor), the OctoCamo will kick in, adapting to the surface and letting Snake blend in with it. How effective the OctoCamo is depends on where Snake is at, if he’s moving and whether he’s standing, crouching or lying down, and how probable it is for the enemies to spot you will depend on a percentage shown on the top-right corner of the screen. OctoCamo will become one of your best friends when playing the game, and it works smoothly when used correctly. It’ll also allow for some easy ways to evade the enemies and even shoot them out without risking an alert.
Coupled up with the OctoCamo comes another of Otacon’s technological marvels: the Solid Eye, an eye patch covering Snake’s left eye that provides enemy information, as well as singling out items in your screen that you can acquire and/or use.
Another one of Otacon’s technological aides comes in the form of the Metal Gear Mk.II, a miniature robot with integrated camera that provides Snake with codec functionality and that may be used to explore different areas, plus it can also stun enemies, aiding Snake in his infiltrations even more.
Unlike previous Metal Gear games where the only way to acquire weapons was by finding them throughout the different areas, MGS4 features a weapon store called the Drebin Store, where you can purchase and unlock new weapons, types of ammo and even upgrades by the use of Drebin Points. Drebin Points are acquired by finding already-acquired weapons throughout the battlefield and destroying un-manned vehicles or weapons, so they aren’t that hard to acquire.
Metal Gear Solid 4 follows the final chapters of Solid Snake’s story. Snake, whom we’ve helped save the world twice, is suffering from accelerated aging, which will lead him to an early grave in a matter of months. It is then that Roy Campbell, who was his commanding officer during the Shadow Moses incident of MGS1, asks him for his help to stop once and for all Liquid Snake, who is planning to take over the world through the use of PMCs (Private Military Companies), who are now the norm of warfare. Snake accepts, being dropped to the Middle East as a disguised militia soldier with his only backup being Otacon through Codec calls.
The story is one of the most emotional ones ever scripted in gaming, and Kojima made sure to leave no plot hole unchecked, no matter how old or recent, even if it does it through exaggerated events (which are a norm of the series, anyway). Throughout it you’ll struggle to reach the next point because you’re worried about how Snake’s story will end, mainly because the main menu features him on a graveyard, putting a gun in his mouth while the camera moves away.
"Epic" isn't enough to describe some of the cutscenes, which include the return of some badass characters of previous games.
All in all, the game offers an excellent way to give an end to the story of one of gaming’s most iconic heroes.
The level design is also one to be praised. The first two acts feature a very different setting from those of the past games, since you’re not infiltrating a base patrolled by enemy guards but are moving through a battlefield full of militia soldiers battling it out with PMC ones, essentially making you a cover agent in the middle of a warzone.
This makes the game much more interesting to play on a stealth-perspective, for you most hide not only from one side, but from both, unless you can befriend the militia side, which can be complicated if you’re not aware of how to do it.
The other three acts are very similar to the previous games, with the third act differing in a few things here and there, and while this might make some people disappointed, it’s not a bad thing at all, for it gives more of the same thing that made the franchise such a success.
Metal Gear Solid 4 is, without a doubt, a technical marvel. Graphically, the game is one of the best-looking ones, holding up even today to some of the most recent releases, showing how much dedication Kojima and his team put into perfecting the game as much as possible.
The game offers an outstanding soundtrack that, not only features new songs that help build up the setting and the environment of the different locations, but also adds the ability to listen to some of the older songs from the previous games through the use of an iPod carried by Snake. Voice acting is also superb (like in previous MGS games), coupled with great facial animations that look realistic thanks to the motion capture technology used by Kojima, which only makes the game stand out more and be even more amazing.
How Kojima managed to have something like the OctoCamo work is beyond me, but it's breathtaking.
The performance is also top-notch, since it featured virtually no frame-rate or game-breaking issues throughout the multiple playthroughs I’ve done, which only demonstrates how worried Kojima is about quality and how he, unlike other developers, actually delivers.
Metal Gear Solid 4’s trophy list is a force to be reckoned with. Not only will it require multiple playthroughs and huge time-investment, it’s also actually challenging and very skill-related, for you’ll need to finish the game under some very specific requirements that might prove to be too hard for the average, impatient gamer. In the end, whoever gets this trophy shall earn respect.
Metal Gear solid 4 is one of the best games released this generation with almost nothing going against it. Even if you’re no fan of the series, it’s a title that you should look at some point or another. Without a doubt, a must-own for PlayStation 3 owners.
Improves on the already great formula set by its predecessors, featuring some new things that only make the experience better.
Great new level design, even if by the end you feel you’re back to basics. Touching story that gets rid of the many plot-holes and unanswered questions left by the previous games.
Without a doubt it’s pretty much flawless, having virtually no issues, all while sporting great graphics and a killer score.
Overall: 9.5/10 Superb