Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots

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Developer: KonamiPublisher: Konami
Release Date: June 12, 2008Also On: None

Four years ago, Hideo Kojima sought to transform his beloved Metal Gear franchise with a twist that was not expected, critically acclaimed and yet still managed to largely get overlooked as the great title that it was. I would so far as to say that Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater was the best game on PS2. Two years later, Kojima fine-tuned his work with an improved camera for single-player and an online component not seen in a Metal Gear game to date with Subsistence. Much the same, Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots is a game that is likely to surprise anyone who plays it – but for different reasons than Snake Eater.

Snake Eater was an endeavor that few expected: it took place in a jungle, a radically different setting from the massive military complexes of previous Metal Gear titles. It introduced a new element involving camouflage. It used to be that guards had a certain radius of detection highlighted on-screen by a cone on your radar. In Snake Eater, the camouflage would give you a certain percentage of stealth and depending on that (as well as movement), the guards would either detect or not detect you. Finally, survival skills were introduced: you had to both eat for stamina and repair wounds.

Metal Gear Solid 4 is different than any of the other past Metal Gears in that it takes place across a number of different settings. You start off in a Middle East warzone and will travel to South America, Europe and beyond. Also new is the fact that you have a number of installs throughout the game. This is done so as to speed up the loading times and minimize load screens. Kojima announced a while back that the motto of Metal Gear Solid 4 would be “No place to hide.” Metal Gear Solid 4 lives up to this throughout with few locker rooms, dark areas or air ducts to hide in.

While Kojima dumped the survival aspects of Metal Gear Solid 3, he kept in place the camouflage, at least in concept. Unlike Big Boss (a.k.a. Snake), who relied on changing between camouflage outfits, Solid Snake relies on an advanced OctoCamo suit. This black body vest adjusts to your surroundings. Think of yourself as a chameleon with your suit’s color, shade and texture changing with the surface you are facing. Whether you are on a brick wall, cobble street or next to a watermelon, your suit with change its appearance accordingly. Of course if you leave the area where you are blended in, you become more noticeable than you were before, so be careful.

The camera and aiming system is the best that it has ever been for a Metal Gear title. You still have your two equipment menus controlled with L2 and R2, one for your weapons and the other for items such as the box, rations and so on. If you have a weapon equipped with R2, you can aim it with L1. This gives you an over-the-shoulder view much like Resident Evil 4. It also gives you an aiming reticule for targeting, although the First Person view (done by pushing triangle) is best for precise shots at enemies. Switching between First and Third person is noticeably smoother than in past games.

Of course a stealth game is not meant to be about run-and-gun shooting. You are encouraged, especially on the harder difficulties, to avoid enemies when at all possible. Your camo suit will assist you in this, as will the paths you take and the speed you move. CQC (Close Quarters Combat) returns as the prime choice for melee combat. One button (R1) will perform multiple CQC moves on your opponents. If you are aiming to silently take out a guard, it is recommended that you grab him by holding down R1 and slicing his throat with triangle. Otherwise, you also have the option of stun grenades and a sleeping dart gun.

A Metal Gear Solid game wouldn’t be complete without a bevy of cut-scenes and a convoluted plot. As I said earlier, the graphics complement the game well. The transition from cut-scene to gameplay is not only the best in any video game, it is flawless. A friend of mine who doesn’t play video games thought I was watching a movie when in fact I was playing and watching cut-scenes in Metal Gear Solid 4. It really is that impressive. And it better be, because cut-scenes will eat up about half of the 15-20 hours you spend beating Metal Gear Solid 4.

Now that I’ve gone almost an entire review without touching the storyline, I’m going to dive into it a little bit. While Metal Gear Solid (PS1) might have been the first in the franchise that many of us played, Metal Gear Solid 3 started things off in the storyline and timeline of the franchise. Snake Eater took place in the 1960s and details going back all the way to the 1930s are discussed in that game. Metal Gear Solid 4 takes place just a few years after Metal Gear Solid 2 and nine years after the Shadow Moses incident from Metal Gear Solid. Solid Snake (known as Old Snake throughout much of the game) is suffering from accelerated aging. Having been sent on assignment to the Middle East by retired Colonel Campbell, you get tasked with tracking down Liquid Ocelot. From here the story unfolds and will branch into a number of different side stories and surprises. I’m not going to be a spoiler, so if you want to know more, go buy the game.

What a package. I didn’t even touch on Metal Gear Online, the multi-player aspect of Metal Gear Solid 4 that allows for all kinds of different online modes, including a Snake-vs.-everyone match. It is still the single-player that will have you most enthralled. Everything about this game, from the graphics and cut-scenes to the voice acting and past references, will have you begging for more. Metal Gear Solid 4 is a fitting conclusion to the entire franchise. Snake, we salute you.

Graphics:10
Sound:10
Gameplay:9.5
Creativity:9.5
Replay Value/Game Length:10
Final:9.8

New Metal Gear Solid 4 Details from Germany

Konami unveiled key new information regarding its forthcoming Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots for the PlayStation 3 at the 2007 Games Convention in Leipzig, Germany. Series creator Hideo Kojima announced the “Beauty and the Beast” theme which runs through the game, and is certain to bolster its reputation as one of the most anticipated video games of the coming year.

Hideo Kojima, head of Kojima Productions, hosted a series of stage events throughout the show from August 23 – 26. A new trailer featuring unseen game footage will underline the “Beauty and the Beast” theme, and Mr. Kojima revealed four new enemies at the Games Convention. The Metal Gear Solid series has enjoyed a reputation for its unique boss characters, and Metal Gear Solid 4 takes this one step further with a brand new twist.

The all female cast – Laughing Octopus, Raging Raven, Crying Wolf, and Screaming Mantis – are empowered with special, unique abilities and have individual back stories which outline how they have become the beings they are. All four of the girls were born out of innocence, but were transformed by the horrors of war into beasts, both physically and mentally. They are perfect examples of the “Beauty and the Beast” theme which runs throughout Metal Gear Solid 4.

As with its predecessors, Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots is a story-driven game, with seasoned hero Solid Snake drafted for one final mission. Set across stages including the Middle East and South America, the now aged Snake has been asked to assassinate his old adversary, Liquid Ocelot. To do this, however, he must make his way through a series of battlefields, using his legendary stealth abilities and all-new OctoCamo suit to avoid detection and to reach his target. With series favorites such as Meryl Silverburgh, Raiden, Hal ‘Otacon’ Emmerich, Eva and Roy Campbell returning, and with all new gameplay features including a remote-controlled Metal Gear Mk. II and enhanced CQC (Close Quarters Combat) system, Metal Gear Solid 4 will round out the Metal Gear saga with a fittingly cinematic and gripping final outing.