Players: 1+ Player Game | Release Date: 06/12/08 | Genre: Action
Normally when games are over-hyped, delayed, and often considered as important as the second coming of Christ, the end result is always not very good. However, that is not the case with Metal Gear Solid 4. Announced when the PlayStation 3 was first revealed, PS3 owners and fans of the franchise have been eagerly awaiting its release. In fact, the game was so ambitious that many expected it to be delayed continually until Developer Kojima Productions scaled back the game to get it finished. Fortunately for the player, Metal Gear Solid 4 has arrived and completely blows away every next-generation game out there—including Grand Theft Auto IV. And believe m when I say that I never thought I would say those words months after the release of GTA IV.
MGS4 has the player take on the role as “Old Snake.” Due to an accelerated aging issue, Snake is getting very old and he doesn't have long to live. Although his feeble bones are ready to give up, he embarks on one last mission to take care of his nemesis Liquid Snake.
Metal Gear Solid 4 provides a completely reinvented interface for the player to explore. Although previous titles in the series required the player to take a stealth approach to virtually every situation, Metal Gear Solid 4 frees the player from these restraints. Hardcore fans of the series, don't worry--the game can still be played as purely a stealth title. However, the player can choose how they approach most situations in the game. Just like Grand Theft Auto III brought sandbox gameplay to PS2, MGS4 brings the “western sandbox” style of gameplay to the PS3.
When I first loaded up Metal Gear Solid 4, I expected to be completely blown away by the graphics. Although I will discuss the visuals later on, I was surprised to see that the audio is what stood out. From the opening Dolby Digital introduction to the sounds of guns zipping past your head on the battlefield, MGS4 delivers an incredible audio experience. Kojima Productions also enlisted the help of many great voice actors that deliver Hollywood quality work. The cast features many of your favorite actors as they reprise their role in Solid Snake's final outing.
As I sat completely engrossed with the audio, I realized that Metal Gear Solid 4 was a visually stunning work of art. I have seen some beautiful games in my life but MGS4 is in a league of its own. This has to be the most detailed and realistic game ever played on a home console. Despite the rumors that the game would be coming to the Xbox 360, unless Kojima Productions was willing to sacrifice the graphics, there is no way that the 360 could ever run this title. Despite my feelings on the subject, the fact is that Metal Gear Solid 4 is available exclusively on the PlayStation 3 and should be for a very long time.
As mentioned before, the gameplay has been tweaked in MGS4. In addition to that, the controls have been greatly improved upon and simplified and provide players with much easier access to ammo, weapons, and items. In past MGS titles, players would need to conserve and watch their ammo use to ensure they had enough to make it through the game. However, in MGS4, players simply need to purchase any item they need from the start menu. There is such a mass of weapons and items, that it is possible to play through the game multiple times without using the same weapons or items! This type of variety in the gameplay can give players many reasons to continue and play through the game multiple times.
The variety in the items doesn't end with the ease of purchasing them in the menus. Players also can upgrade their weapons to include different types of scopes, silencers, and other added bonuses. Some of these will break after a certain amount of time and others remain in place until you remove them. All of these items and purchases are made with income you receive from picking up duplicate weapons on the battlefield. These weapons are automatically sold after you meet a certain character early in the game. The negative impact of this system is that no matter where you are in the game and no matter what the situation is, you are just a few button presses from getting the weapon or ammo you need for anything Snake faces. While this does diminish the challenge and skill needed to complete the game, I enjoyed the new system and feel it complements the hardcore nature of the franchise by making it more approachable for other players.
Besides the ability to easily purchase items, Snake also comes equipped with the OctoCamo suit and the Solid Eye. The OctoCamo suit allows for Snake to easily blend into the surroundings by leaning up against a wall or lying on the ground. His suit will then morph into the texture or color to assist in blending into the surroundings. The Solid Eye is also a great tool for Snake. It comes equipped with infrared vision, zooming capabilities, and the ability to see the radar and location of your next area. The Solid Eye makes the on-screen radar seem more realistic and believable in context to what Snake can see on the battlefield.
Other tools at Snake's disposal are the Metal Gear MK. II and an actual 30 GB iPod. The Metal Gear MK. II is a robot that allows you to control for scouting and gives you a realistic way for others to follow you and watch over your progress. The iPod, while mostly won't be used on your first play through, is something that Apple allowed Kojima Productions to use and features an episode of a podcast and several songs. The interface also mimics a real iPod and will allow Snake to recover faster when he listens to it. Supposedly Kojima Productions will release future podcasts to MGS4 but no word has been given on when or how the player will acquire them.
The last big enhancement to the gameplay is the addition of Snake's psyche and stress levels. If Snake gets stressed out in the game, the psyche gauge will begin to drop. This makes him move much slower and his HP will not regenerate nearly as fast. To raise this, you can smoke, listen to your iPod, or use a variety of other items. I rarely had this gauge drop all the way and it is fairly easy to get it back up. So don't “stress out” over the addition of this gauge. However, on harder difficulty levels, this gauge makes a bigger impact on the gameplay.
For those of you seeking a conclusion to the Solid Snake story, you will find the answers you have been so desperately looking for. All of the mysteries are revealed and while some of it may not make any sense, Metal Gear Solid 4 brings a satisfying conclusion to one of the most memorable characters in the world of videogames.
Metal Gear Solid 4 is worth all of the hype, deserving of praise, and delivers an experience that only the PlayStation 3 can bring. this title alone is worth the cost of the PS3 hardware and although it is still early in the year--MGS4 is most certainly the leading candidate for Game of the Year. Yes--that even means that I feel it is more polished and a better overall game than even Grand Theft Auto 4. Metal Gear Solid 4 is a true love letter to the hardcore fans and is a definite must have title in your collection. I cannot think of any other words of praise other than telling Kojima Productions thank you for delivering one of the greatest videogame experiences in the history of games.