|System: PS3||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Kojima||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Konami||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: June 12, 2008||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1 (1-16 online)||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Mature||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Matthew Walker
For over a year, I have been writing articles about the world of Metal Gear, and for 20+ years I have talked with friends and family about Snakes, missions, secrets, and every twist in between. If there was one word I had to use to describe my feelings towards Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots, it would be "life-altering". Okay - so that is technically two words, but you get the point.
Metal Gear Solid 4, in my opinion, is Hideo Kojima's magnum opus. Kojima has delivered a story so complex that it alone could refute the claims that video games are a medium devoid of incredible storylines and plots. Every Metal Gear game is involved the complex relationship mankind has with nuclear weapons. Of course, Metal Gear has usually amped up the feeling of urgency and has also highlighted the dangers of technology in general when it comes to war. This is easily accredited to the main character, Snake. Aside from the message about the dangers of war and advancements in dangerous technologies, there has always been one constant: one man can make a difference.
Metal Gear Solid 4 continues this sentiment. The one man who will make a difference is, once more, Solid Snake. Set in the year 2014, the world has changed. The military restrictions in foreign countries have been lifted tremendously, and now private military companies dominate the armed forces of the world. The five largest of these companies are owned and operated by one overarching company, Outer Haven. If you are familiar at all with the Metal Gear universe, then it comes as no surprise that Liquid Ocelot is the leader of this company. Newcomers will quickly learn that Liquid Ocelot is destined to be Snake's ultimate nemesis. This makes sense, especially considering how double-dealing Ocelot is, and that Solid Snake's genetic brother, Liquid Snake, is still involved in this mess. They could have gone with a new villain, but why destroy the countless years of hatred built up amongst fans? Liquid Ocelot definitely deserves a spot among the top villains of gaming, as newcomers will undoubtedly agree.
Liquid is not the only antagonist of this game though. Nanotechnology also plays a huge part. Soldiers of these private military companies make use of it, and one man, Liquid Ocelot, is controlling them. Solid Snake has a little more invested this time around. Snake's body is rapidly aging, with a short lease left on life. Naomi Hunter, considered a questionable and hated character for most fans for what she did to Solid Snake in Metal Gear Solid, is possibly the only one who can save him, but she needs rescuing. She has been under the eye of Liquid Ocelot for a while, and now her life is in danger. She calls the one person she trusts to help her - Solid Snake. Aside from the rescue mission of Naomi, Snake is also asked by long-time comrade, Colonel Roy Campbell, to bring Liquid Ocelot down before it is too late. To reveal much more would be a disservice to new and old fans alike.
The storyline in MGS4 is both exciting and overwhelming at the same time. To keep with the pace, Kojima and company bring you into the game with an awe-inspiring sense right from the get go. This is both a problem and a blessing. Instead of a solid introduction to the controls of the game, you are left with a sense of "what am I supposed to do?" Several standard actions in the game have been replaced with ones that result in quicker response time. This will be something even old fans will have to get used to. The main reason I enjoyed this is because, unlike a lot of recent sequels that kept similar control schemes, MGS4 decided to go against the "if it ain't broke" mindset. The innovation has really helped the overall controls of the game, right down to a level many fans have wanted since the first Metal Gear on the NES and MSX2. As much as I like the new ways to do things, it would have been good to have had a few things laid out, especially if this is your first time.
However, there will be plenty for you to do in the game to help you quickly acclimate with the controls. Unlike previous installments, MGS3 included, where you felt enclosed and somewhat restricted in the games levels, MGS4 aides in abolishing all claustrophobia. In fact, I have yet to discover the true limits of the levels, and trust me, I have done some wandering. This is also a huge factor in the replayability.
There are several different strategies you can employ on any given level of the game. If you want to be all guts and glory, you can. Of course, if you want to be more of the sneaky snake (pun intended), then there are several routes you can take. It is important to note that in some cases you have a set path you have to take, but these occasions are minimal and make sense. The overall open feel of the game helps create the sense of a battlefield.
The vast weapon selection you will accumulate over the course of the game adds a lot to your approach. The fact you can now pick up enemy weapons is a huge factor. Unfortunately, several of the weapons you pick up from enemies are locked due to the PMC ID tags; but there is a way to get around them: a man named Drebin. Drebin is an arms dealer and enables Snake to use the ID-tagged weapons and purchase others with "Drebin Points". This might sound like an annoying process, but it is an easy and interesting addition to this series. You will also gain points by giving Drebin the duplicate weapons you find; you keep the ammo, he gets the weapon, and everyone wins.