Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots Review
June 27, 2008 § 3 Comments
It’s something of a given that Metal Gear Solid 4 was always going to be a good game. Hideo Kojima has produced arguably the most consistently excellent video game franchise in history starting when he originally created Metal Gear in 1987. With his first major foray into game development Kojima laid the foundations for the gameplay that would later make this franchise famous around the globe with the emphasis placed on avoiding confrontation, whilst other games would have you seeking it out at every turn.
Talking about the legacy of a game series at the beginning of a review would perhaps seem slightly needless on most other occasions, but with Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots it perhaps goes hand in hand with (almost) every single person’s enjoyment of the game. Those who have loved Metal Gear thus fare will most likely love MGS4, whereas those who picked holes in the flaws of previous iterations won’t have their opinions swayed this time around. Not only that, but for such a narratively focussed series, at least a partial knowledge of the previous games is necessary to connect the dots in even the most basic of cutscenes.
It’s no secret that Kojima loves his cutscenes, and he’s been constantly ridiculed for his stance. Whilst other game developers may prefer in-game narrative such as the Half Life series, and to an extent Call of Duty 4, MGS4 doesn’t want you to miss anything about its story. Every single plot point will be explained clearly in a cutscene, often whilst revisiting previous points just to make sure you get the picture. This method of storytelling may seem ideal for those playing through the game in smaller chunks, but for the hardcore fans Guns of the Patriots’ dialogue can seen tortuously slow at times. It gets to a point when you no longer care that the SOP system can control individual soldiers on the battlefield, you just want to play the game without Kojima bitch slapping you every five minutes to tell you what’s wrong with private military corporations.
When you actually get to playing Metal Gear 4 though, it will simply blow your mind out of the back of your head. The quiet corridors of old are gone, replaced by beautiful intense battlefield situations where you can tell a huge amount of effort has been put into making you really feel as though you’re in the midst of an epic conflict. In these battlefield scenarios you can choose to ally yourself with the local militia who are fighting against the PMC’s and you’d be wise to do so, as such a decision makes the game much easier, especially coupled with the full 3D camera and the ability to aim whilst moving. These additions really make shooting your way through levels a much more viable option, and become essential during big set piece battles and boss fights, of which there are a huge number.
If you enjoy the battlefield infiltration present during the beginning of the game then you’ll be disappointed to hear that you won’t be experiencing much more of it towards the end. At the end of Metal Gear Solid 3 you were giving a series of huge battles, pitching you against Volgin, the Shagohod, as well as dozens of motorcycles. Crucially you were then presented with a sneaking sequence right before your final fight. This is the thing which MGS4 so sorely needs in the latter part of the game. Set piece builds upon set piece, and cutscenes break up the fights to a huge degree meaning that you lose the classic Metal Gear sneaking so prevalent at the beginning of the game. The end of the game simply doesn’t feel like a Metal Gear game, as much as the cutscenes and lengthy dialogue may remind you so.
At the end of the day though Metal Gear Solid 4 had a lot resting on its shoulders. It had to wrap up the Metal Gear story and give every character (and I mean EVERY) some closure to their epic story. If you can stomach a little more story than you initially bargained for then Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots will be a thrill ride you won’t forget. It may not be the best the series has ever had, but gosh darn it, it came so close.