War has changed. So has the Metal Gear Solid franchise with its fourth installment. Thankfully, it’s all for the better, culminating in one of the best games ever.
Metal Gear Solid 4 has been the most highly anticipated game for the Playstation 3 since before the console was even announced. All over the internet and magazines, plenty of gamers and MGS nerds wondering when we will see the next installment in the famed franchise. Luckily, in June 2008, it is finally here. Even better, what is here is perfection.
The graphical presentation of MGS4 is top notch. Never before have I spent nearly the whole game with my jaw gaping, virtually drooling at every cutscene and gameplay sequence. The character models are beautifully detailed. Snake’s age is a hot topic in the game, and the graphical poweress shows off every jeriatric detail of him. All cutscenes are done in real time, which makes it all the more amazing. There were moments in the game when I had to do a double take and make sure that I was watching a game, and not a real movie.
Control issues have been a touchy subject when it comes to the MGS series. Luckily, there isn’t anything to worry about when it comes to MGS4. The configuration has been streamlined to be more along the lines of a good third person shooter, even taking a few tips from that ‘other’ stealth game. You’re only a button press away from an over-the-shoulder view and just one more for a first person view. Any of these views can be used at any point in time and really gives Snake the edge when it is needed most. There are plenty of moments in MGS4 that need very precise and concise gunplay and this new control scheme delivers on all fronts. Sixaxis motion control is rarely used, but what is there, works well. Also, if you are a lucky owner of the Dualshock 3, it is utilized very well, and is a staple all its own in the immersion factor.
Without spoiling anything, the story is very well done and shows off the masterpiece that Hideo Kojima has created. Snake’s brother, Liquid has harnessed the power to ultimately control the world and it’s up to Snake to stop him. Several characters from past MGS games are here to help or kill Snake, and it’s up to you to help Snake along the way. Snake is showing his age and it is displayed prominently throughout the game. He’s also a chain smoker, smoking nearly every couple of minutes in a cutscene. MGS4 is presumably the last game in the series, and it is all handled very well. Every loose end is tied up, nothing left unsaid. During my playthrough, even a few tears were shed, and that is something no one would have expected to hear about a video game, I assure you.
MGS4 will only take about 18-20 hours to complete on the normal difficulty, but can probably be defeated within 5-10 hours when skipping all cutscenes and codec sequences. The question as to why you would do that is beyond me, but for those speed runners, and for those who can’t understand the story, the option is there. The cutscenes can be rather lengthy, but they are acted and directed so well that skipping just one would be a crime. This is a game that is just as important to watch as to play.
Metal Gear Online heads MGS4’s plethora of extras. A full online mode taking the gameplay from the single player game online pitting you against 16 of your most dear friends is at your disposal. Yep, you can even kill your opponents with a Playboy magazine from across the country. It is slightly unfortunate that there are only a few maps to choose from, but there will be more downloadable later as this is only billed as the ‘Starter Pack’ for Metal Gear Online. A few of the other extras include downloadable camoflauge and ipod songs. They are all nice touches to an already perfect game.
Metal Gear Solid 4 is easily the greatest entry in the MGS series, sporting a refined control scheme, excellent story and superb extras that will keep you coming back for more. It deserves nothing less then a perfect score. It’s okay not to believe the hype, but believe me when I say it is well deserved and worth buying a Playstation 3 over. Buy this game.