Liquefying the Solid Metal.
Solid snake is on another sneaking mission and this time, he is determined to settle everything. Many gamers around the world have been waiting to get their hands on this game for a long while, and after watching all those teasers the game has finally come out. And it turns out that it definitely did live up to the expectations.
The story of the game is everything everyone wanted it to be. All the loose ends are tied together, every little detail is covered, and all questions are answered. The gamer's memory is also tested in the game, as many references to events from the old games are made throughout the story. But all these references do not completely alienate new comers to the series. One can easily cook up their own flashback to fill in the small blanks and still have a great story to enjoy.
*The Beginning of the END
The game itself starts with a 8 mins Mandatory install, which doesn't feel that long because of the lines of text that come pouring into the screen, telling the player, what to do (and what NOT to do) with a profusely smoking old snake in the BG. After the install we are introduced the main screen, where old snake is shown paying tributes to the boss and then slowly taking out a gun and testing it.. all with a very dramatic music in the BG, which really sets the mood for the player and tells you "This is the END". The camera pans out to the sky after snake puts the gun towards him, with the music looping in BG. Then the game starts.
MGS4 Starts off with you, as old snake, going to the battlefield in a truck filled with militia, in morocco. There is a small tutorial type section and soon after that you enter into the action filled MGS universe, right in the beginning you will be introduced to the newest and probably the most feared recurring enemy in MGS games, the mooing mechas , commonly known as Gekkos. You try your best to evade them and then are informed about the main objective of the mission. FIND OCELOT and Kill him.
In the First Act itself you are introduced to the 4 Main bosses known as the B&B Corps (Beauty and The beast) which is a group of 4 Beauties who have been turned into Beasts due the traumas they faced during the wars. All of them are reincarnations of old MGS Bosses, but improved. You are also shown how "old" snake has gotten and how there are limitations to his agility now.
The early introduction of characters and the main goal somewhat ruin the emotional moments of the game later on, where the player gets the feeling " oh, I've not beaten all the bosses yet, so obviously there is no need to be sad now" Although you can make yourself get into the moment by pretending to be really sad. A comparison would be, how in DBZ when Vegeta is tearfully dyeing in the hands of Freiza, the viewer is probably thinking "They will get him back with the dragon balls anyways" but will still want to be immersed in the moment by giving a value to Vegeta's death and painful story.The complete story however, we will discuss in a later post, let's get to the Gameplay part of the game.
*Tackle them Forcefully
Everyone, even before playing the game will know that this time "It's different" , The whole gameplay has changed to something like a hybrid between a pure third person action game and previous MGS games. It's more accessible this time and with the addition of "Over-the-shoulder" view and First person aiming, all those guns we collect have finally got some use to them. Every area you visit in the game is under some kind of civil conflict and war, so there are many scenarios when you find yourself running and gunning rather than sneaking around.
One side of the war are the Rebels/militia, and the others are Soldiers of Private Military Corporations(PMCs) Hired by the government to fight the rebels.PMCs are completely ID controlled with ID locked guns with the help of nano-machines, where as the rebels use unlocked/laundered guns. The game says that you can help any side by killing the other, but then again, it also says "The PMCs are programmed to kill you" suggesting we team up with the rebels and kill as much PMC as possible. In many cases you will find yourself gunning alongside the Rebels to overthrow the PMCs and take over a patch of land, after all the nearby PMCs are killed, "Huzzahs" resound in the air with everyone thanking you for the support. All this adds to the "BattleField" feel of the game , making the player want to take part in the ongoing war, and get the a feeling similar to that of an online TDM.
But there is a problem in some locations where PMCs respawn indefinitely and you are stuck wondering if they will stop thus keep wasting bullets. The devs have put a nice morale balancing technique where in "The voice of God" (?) makes you vomit in the battlefield saying the words "Because you like killing very much" in case you kill a lot of people in one location. This can also act as a hint "They will keep coming, so advance to the next section"
The game introduces us to a new character and gameplay element. The character is Drebin, he is a weapon launderer who makes it possible for you to unlock ID protected guns that you collect in the battleground from fallen PMCs. In order to unlock weapons you need Drebin Points which you get by collecting "extra" weapons and selling them to him. Not only can you unlock weapons, but also buy ammo, and new weapons from drebins shop. The Prices are not-so-well balanced, as you will rarely be in a situation where you are out of points to buy new stuff.
Drebin's shop also allows you to modify your weapons, which ranges from adding the very-necessary Suppressor, to stability increasing extra handles, it also has nice additions like "master-key" and others which will allow you to add Shotgun attachment to rifles, which definitely helps in many situations. There are a plenty of customisation options, but they too, like the weapons, will never make you spend a lot. One can play through the whole thing by buying only the suppressor for guns. This feature will, however, come in handy during the next playthroughs as there are many things that can be done alternatively in the game, and every small customisation adds a twist to the gameplay strategy.
*Evade them Stealthily
Thankfully, the whole game has not turned into a run and gun affair, its only in those battlefield like areas that you find yourself using guns with no suppressors. Every act has its "stealth" part where you are either tracking down footsteps in the forest (like a Ninja) or trying to find a secret base by following unsuspecting passer-bys.
It is in these stealth sections where the new "OctoCamo" comes into use, it's the most advanced and probably the best new feature of the game wherein your body suit dissolves into the surrounding area's texture, keeping you very well hidden when motionless. But the enemies are not totally dumb, if you are well within their field of vision and they see a strange lump on the floor, they will come to see what it is.In these situations the new "on your back" prone position can prove very useful where you can aim while lying on the ground.
You also have the trusty Mk. II which helps you in scouting ahead and procuring items in dangerous locations. It has limited battery life, but one can easily play through the whole game without finishing a single battery. The MK. II proves useful in many locations where stealth kills are of most importance. You can sneak behind enemies undetected and zap them, after which, snake can silence them forever. There are a few irritating things like Otacon always warning you when Mk.II is going out of range, even though one can easily tell by looking at the signal strength indicator. There is also the time consuming boot-up process where it takes 3 secs to stretch. Mk.II being an essential gameplay element will be used very frequently and hence such minor things irk the player a lot throughout the game.
Stealth is a major part of the game, you are well rewarded for being sneaky at the end of every act. You can also prevent major battles in the game by sneaking around enemies. There is a part in the game where you have to sneak around with a gekko patrolling the area, its footstep's sound add to the tension when you are desperately trying to sneak. Such situations and many more are very memorable in the game, where sneaking is the best and (sometimes) ONLY means of proceeding.
Control the Snake
All Gameplay Elements are right in place, and for them to play along nicely, the control scheme has been laid in a very well thought manner. The game plays very different to every other one out there, where you are not holding a weapon all the time, therefore, the default position of the character is NOT a holstered position.
To holster a weapon, you need to press the L1 button, which readies the Gun for aiming. After this you are in a very familiar, over-the-shoulder position with offerings of both Auto-lock and manual aim at the player's disposal. It also has small options where you can switch over which shoulder you aim. This mode of aiming will be easy for automatics, and others, which will come in handy during those warzone scenarios where you are bombarded with action all over.
But the game is primarily a "stealth" mission, so you will find yourself in many locations, in a situation where silent one shot kills are a must, so that the enemy has no chance of warning others. And it is during these situations when the newly added "First person" aiming mode comes in handy. At any point when you have a weapon holstered you can press the Triangle button and toggle to First Person aiming mode. This mode paired with a silenced gun will be the best option when you are in need of silent head shots to sneak away undetected. The Controls are very customizable too, with many options for the camera, and weapon change functions. All this customizability makes the game as good as the player wants.
Speaking of which, the game can played as good, or as bad as the player wants, one might try to run and gun and use the wrong weapon in some locations. But such decisions will lead to nothing but frustrations, as sometimes, trying to blow things up to smithereens is just doesn't work in some places (where it feels to be the viable method to deal with enemies)
Apart from the Gameplay, the Game has its sound and Cinematics, which are by no doubt, of top-notch quality. The game has complete 5.1Dolby digital support which will certainly please anyone with the right hardware. The surround sound experience can be used very much like ears in real environments, where sound of footsteps and other things help in pointing out exactly where the enemy is. Of course, there is the solid eye, but playing it this way adds to the fun factor and immerses the player into the environment.
Graphically the game is sure to please everyone, it looks very beautiful, and motion capture, lip syncing is done as good as possible. The incredible sound quality and voice acting paired with the beautiful looks will please the gamer's senses. There are however a minor framerate drops in large outdoor areas where there are many characters on screen along with a lot of explosions and things happening onscreen. This doesn't get anywhere near botheration level though, hence keeping the whole experience, smooth at best.
The cut scenes at the end of every act tend to cover a lot of story and hence are of good length, the acts are laid in such a manner than one will usually find himself playing the game one act at a time in one single stretch. After every act , the game installs for 5 -8 minutes for the next act. This can also serve as a relaxation break for the player, where, as suggested by snake, one can do a bit of stretches and other things to relax a bit. Hence playing one act every sitting (which are each of almost 4-5 hours in length) is the best and most comfortable way to play the game.
The boss fights of the games, are still as great as ever, figuring out the right and best way to conquer them will be a challenge, and the way you defeat them will have different immediate consequences (not related to story).
MGS4 surpasses all the older games in every technical aspect and ends everything that had started. It leaves no room for missing connections from previous games and leaves the player completely satisfied at the end. It is a "must have" for anyone who has played a MGS game before and enjoyed it. The game plays and feels different from anything out in the market, so it will seem very foreign to new comers, they will have to play the game with a grain of salt, as the long cutscenes , sneaking around, and fact that running and gunning doesn't always work, might not be their cup of tea.