A strong title in which anyone with a PS3 should consider playing
Konami’s highly anticipated stealth game, Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots, had a very large obligation to fulfill. For one, it needed to introduce a new audience to the universe, but while at the same time, keeping faithful fans of the franchise pleased with what they’ve become accustomed to from past releases. Meaning, it had to keep with its traditions, but also needed to expand on it in a way -- more specifically, in terms of gameplay -- that goes beyond the traditional ways of what the franchise is known for, but complements and bends with it, those traditions. This seemed to be a difficult obstacle to overcome for a series as big as Metal Gear Solid had become. Even so, Its delivery was executed in a perfect manner. One that deserves a five star rating. I’m going to start off this review by stating: this installment is the one in which I believe Kojima’s story telling is truly at its highest. A game that took twenty years to get to where it is today, and in addition, includes a story that probably would not have been as rich in content if not for its long lifespan.
A story that spans over two decades worth of game releases has all come together in this installment. A game where you’ll notice that the story, within the last twenty years, had gotten way out of control. From characters, to plot-lines, to organizations, and the many open ended and unanswered details have been comprised together to create a rolling snowball affect to the story, which has caused it in this game, to endure and absorb the tremendous impact that the snowball has created. To tell the current story, all major and minor elements from past games will be noted in some kind of form. Most of the references are noted during the cutscenes. And boy-oh-boy, are there some cutscenes to be watched. Persons who have played the game might even note that this makes for an uneven gameplay experience, and you know what? They are correct; however, for having such a strong and solid storyline coming from such a complex and tangled past will make that a mute point. There are three good items to note for the cutscenes: 1) The story never slowed down and was always providing entertaining content and informative details for the story; 2) If needed, you can pause the cutscene; 3) Although not very crucial, there are interactive spots in the cutscenes which allow you to view a flashback if you press the X button on the controller during the noted times on the screen.
The control scheme is the best the Metal Gear Solid series has to offer. They did not continue with their tradition of simply adding more functions to an already complex and somewhat irritating scheme. This was something I did not realize until I went back and compared to what the control schemes were like for MGS2 and MGS3. In Metal Gear Solid 4, there was a simplistic fluidity of performing certain maneuvers/actions. For an example, when firing a weapon, using either the third-person, first-person perspective, or switching between the two did not cripple the gameplay at all. Having the ability to toggle between which shoulder the camera would be behind for third-person and having the ability to move, reload, and look around -- all simultaneously -- while in first-person mode showed that there were no negatives to using either method. It was also interesting to note that this was the first game from the four MGS games that switched the confirm and cancel buttons. By default, for the US release, the confirm button was always the ‘circle’ button and the cancel button was always the ‘X’ button. Now they are switched so they match what the typical setting is for games released in the US.
Gameplay was simply amazing. This time Snake is dropped into regions where battles are occurring between the PMC factions and the locals. This change in atmosphere compared to previous games is a breath of fresh air and is totally welcomed. Some moments you are deep into PMC controlled regions that it’s obvious that sneaking past guards and their patrolled routes is the best choice to take. Other times, you are at the front-lines where the locals and the PMC are exchanging fire between one-another and using a run-and-gun approach amid the battle won’t really become a burden for you. Atmosphere in there regions are fantastic for what they represent. Hearing bullets whiz by you ear, running near a wall and seeing stucco explode into a cloud of dust by stray gun fire, hearing the sound of a shell coming from a mortar and not knowing where it’s going to land...well, just observing the chaos all around you is such a high adrenaline experience and is truly a change of pace that the game goes with and it was able to execute it wonderfully. Don’t worry though, because even though all of this has been added to the game, this is only but one piece of the experience. Stealth is still a primary task, and is especially important in the later portions of the game. The only negative I can add to the gameplay is how it is sometimes broken up by the load screens. Especially for the times when you are crossing through many sections of a region in a quickly manner.
Another new system added to the gameplay were Drebin points. For every spear weapon or ammunition you pick up, you earn what’s called Drebin points. These points can be exchanged for purchasing new weapons, ammunition, unlocking weapons, or add-ons for weapons from a gun launderer named Drebin. Allowing the player to purchase such items anytime during the game is a convenient feature that fills in the gap for certain times when you’re in a pinch and need a bit of assistance.
The audio was very impressive. As usual, Harry Gregson-Williams, in addition with Kojima’s team, provided the soundtrack. The music was very dynamic and, without a doubt, fit the scene/scenario perfectly. The dynamic changes were especially noticed during the boss battles, which gave for feelings such as: panic, suspense, and confusion. This was highly appreciated because it coincides well with the layered complexity with some of the battles. Emotions. This is the word that would exactly describe what was experienced during some of the battles. Sound effects were great and added to the excellent atmosphere in which this game has provided.
Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots’ biggest payoff is its conclusion. Kojima’s greatest ambitions for telling a story are, without a doubt, presented at this point. This alone is enough for a recommendation to play this game. Sure, there were some negatives noted within the game; however, the few negatives are profoundly outweighed by the many positives this game has to offer. Overall, this is a strong PS3 title, and with stunning visuals, great gameplay, and a fantastic story that everyone with a PS3 should consider playing.