The Stealth Action Genre made its debut appearance 20 years ago when gaming god, Hideo Kojima, released Metal Gear for the MSX2. Since then the series has spawned many knock-off titles including Splinter Cell, but none could live up to the Metal Gear legacy. Now, as the series comes to a close, you can’t help but bask in its reflective glory. Is Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots really the revolution we’ve been waiting for?
Metal Gear Solid is known for its inventive gameplay style, but of course, 10 years of the same mechanics can get boring and tedious. In MGS4’s case, it’s easily noticeable that Kojima kept every aspect of his tour de force refreshing and new. What really strikes this game, what really makes it notable, is how it shifts mechanics throughout the game. One minute you may be sneaking around the war torn Middle East, and next you’ll be tracking down someone in the jungle! The sudden transition between the Gameplay styles may seem daunting, and this is true in a sense, but it also adds a sense of urgency, which may seem like a sudden put-off, but in fact it is quite the opposite. The adrenaline kick acts like an adhesive, you simply can’t stop playing!
Of course, as most of you readers know already, MGS4 is filled with cutscenes, some of them even nearing the one hour milestone. Nonetheless, the scenes are attractive and riveting enough to keep your attention, especially the remarkably long, yet incredibly good epilogue. Some may be turned off because of this, but I encourage you to stagger through every one of them. Trust me; you won’t want to miss them! Nearly every plot point from the franchise is tied up and explained with incredible detail. The scenes also exhibit a high level of interactivity, allowing you to zoom, change the camera angles, or watch small subliminal style flashbacks when prompted. In respect to the flashback sequences, they are a great addition, especially to those who have not yet played any previous games, or those who have just forgotten them.
Another worthy gameplay mechanic is the use of Drebin points, or DP. These points act as currency in Drebin’s (the arms dealer) shop. You can fully customize your weapons using the different pre-determined amounts. The mechanic works well and isn’t overdone or confusing, it also allows you to really go in depth and edit your play style according to the weapons you choose or customize.
Sadly, the game is not perfect in every sense. The installs do cause minor annoyances after each act, not to mention the small loads every 15 minutes between areas; though these aren’t enough to put anyone off the game, it certainly is a pesky occurrence. Also, during the last two acts, the action increasingly depletes, although it keeps it’s genuine charm, it feels like more story and less game as you near the finale. The cutscenes get longer, and the game time gets shorter, and in comparison to the first three acts, it certainly breaks the fuse to what could have been the perfect ending to the gameplay (you don’t have to worry, the story still ends magnificently).
Overall, the gameplay is a brilliant accomplishment in terms of modern gaming. It’s never repetitive and constantly innovates as you play. Along with that it’s padded out with cinema worthy cutscenes, beautiful camera transitions and a moving score by Harry Gregson Williams.
MGS4 is easily one of the best looking games of the year. You’ll have a hard time looking for pixilated textures or low-poly models; it even challenges you to find a flaw by allowing the zoom function during cutscenes (which are rendered by the in-game engine). Everything is brilliantly detailed, from the gritty walls to the wrinkles on snakes face. Though it’s more comparable to the style Call of Duty 4 rather than Crysis, MGS4 makes a bold statement in what the PS3 is really capable of!
MGS4 comes fully packed with Metal Gear Online, the standalone multiplayer component set in the Metal Gear Solid universe. But unfortunately, MGO doesn’t live up to its single player counterpart. The communication is confusing and hard to grip; especially when it comes using Bluetooth headsets (still don’t know how to get them working). The small selection of maps doesn’t help the game either. Most of the maps come from its predecessor in Metal Gear Solid 3: Subsistence and most of the others are directly from story maps within MGS4, this leaves an uninspired impression on the game. Unfortunately, as much as I hate to say this, it makes Metal Gear Online a mediocre title at best; you can’t help but feel it was more of an afterthought.
The controls are certainly worth noting. They have been refined from their original, uninspired roots. They in fact, are easier to grasp and all around better to use and get used to than almost any game on the market. Now, instead of shooting when releasing square, R1 has been designated as the main attack button, with L1 to aim. Another new feature to the controls is a much appreciated reload button. Many newcomers will be easily drawn in by the simplicity, but fans may find it hard to get used to the new scheme of things.
All in all, Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots redefines the stealth action genre; it brings a new meaning to the word “sneak”. Calling this game a Masterpiece would belittle it; it’s nothing short of revolutionary. To even attempt at comparing it’s magnitude to another title would be impractical, considering it dwarfs any challenger it may come across. In all honesty, the realm between game and art is blurred by its integrity, because this isn’t just a game, it’s an experience!
Easily one of the best looking games on the market!
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Certainly one of the most fun games of all time. Constantly innovating over and over, you won’t want to put down your controller!
The soundtrack offers an emotional side to this already superb game.
Replayability seems limitless! As long as you just forget all about Metal Gear Online.
Fans and newcomers alike will love this game! There is absolutely no reason you shouldn’t play it, a definite must-have!