Metal Gear Solid 4 REVIEW
The messiah has arrived Playstation fans, your $400-600 purchase of a gaming machine has finally been validated. Last Thursday fans could forget about the only two triumphs of the Playstation 3 brand namely blu-ray discs destroying the HD-dvds and the improved stability that the Playstation 3 has over the xbox 360, and focus on what would surely be one of the most anticipated events in modern history. Yes my friends last thursday Metal Gear Solid 4 descended like an angel from heaven to grace our unworthy home theater systems with its presence. It was time for Kojima productions and Konami to come through for the lowly people who purchased the PS3 for reasons other than the fact that it is a great dvd player. The hardcore PS3 gamer's day had arrived.
However the buildup to thursday was not all sunshine and blowjobs. Prior to the games launch sinister things were being leaked to the interwebs. Rumors like 90 minute cutscenes, and crazy review restrictions that were arbitrarily imposed on early reviews were slowly eating away at the happy facade years of anticipation had lovingly constructed. Was the long wait in vain?
NO! MGS4 dropped on Thursday and proved to be almost as awesome as the crazy hype made it out to be. First I should confess my bias. I can't say that I am a fan of the early MGS games I didn't like the control scheme, and the whole sneaking around thing never appealed to my playing style. Whenever I see a bad guy in a video game I like to kill them with my gun, but this was kinda discouraged in the original metal gear games, because said bad guy would call all of his friends and they would kick my ass. The whole point of MGS is to avoid conflict and sneak around in boxes and shit like that. Fortunately MGS 4 found a way to make sneaking around cool enough for me to enjoy it, by giving the protagonist "old snake" a bad-ass suit that instantly takes on the color of the surrounding area. This new edition allows snake to effectively hide in plain site by lying on the floor, at which point his suit will adopt the color scheme of said floor providing excellent camouflage and if you hide well enough the badguys won't notice you allowing for the whole sneaking around thing to take place (See I am really clever aren't I?).
In the game Solid Snake inexplicably seems to have aged about fifty years, and decided to grow a badass mustache to compliment his newly grayed hair. It's cool to have a geriatric protagonist for a game, at least if it isn't cool it certainly is kind of unique. Fortunately for the player snake seems to have grown a few extra layers of steel underneath his loose wrinkly skin because he has become a lot harder to kill than his previous incarnations (look I tried to play the other games but I kept dying really easily I am ashamed to admit). In addition to this MGS 4 has a much better control scheme adapting a control scheme similar to most shooters nowadays, but oddly enough no cover system is utilized in this game, which would have been a great help in some of the harder difficulties.
Before you buy MGS4 you need to consider your gaming preferences, Answer this: would rather watch a gorgeous cutscene depicting a fight, or actually play through said fight yourself. Your answer will probably determine how much you like this game. IT should be no surprise to anyone that this game will have alot of cutscenes and some of them take over an hour to finish, the ending is close to that ninety minute mark which was thrown about in early romors or at least the ending seemed really long to me. However these cutscenes manage to tell a coherent story, and even add some emotional stakes to the whole experience so they can be forgiven because they contribute to the greater experience of the game. I have to say that in retrospect I am impressed with how much I cared about what would happen to Snake by the end of the game, especially since i am a newbie to the whole MGS franchise, and the first time that I even heard of Snake was when he was announced as a playable character in Super Smash Bros. Brawl. A couple of days before I got the game I watched gametrailer's excellent retrospective series on the metal gear games which told enough of the backstory for me to understand the plot of MGS4 even though I am pretty sure that the story it tells is pretty self contained. The only thing which bothered me was the extensive exposition about the bosses after I fought and defeated them. I mean I really don't give a flying frack if the person I just killed was traumatized as a child, and if I was supposed to care then maybe the game should have told me that crap before I fought them to maybe create some sort of emotional conflict when I am shooting like fifty bullets in their face! I am sure eventually even the stupidest player will realize after the first two boss fights that they are going to hear the life story of the other bosses they kill so maybe that emotional conflict will exist later, but just flooding the player with expositional dialogue without accompanying images or explosions gets a little boring. Note I am being kind of vague here on purpose so as not to spoil anybody who hasn't played the game yet. When the game does go into full on cutscene mode you can expect beautiful animation and superb acting though. The acting in this game is especially good and I'd like to single out David Hayter's Old Snake and the guy who played Otacon for praise because those were the two characters I ended up liking the most because of the great acting that characterized them. I am man enough to say that I almost shed a tear at the end. I was kind of touched by the acting and storytelling
I'd like to take a second to address some of the boss fights in this game I'd say that exactly half of them were freaking awesome and the other half were a letdown. I had high expectations entering this game after watching the awesome trailer with the beauty and the beast unit (you can see it at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CdfPp4xVqa0 seriously watch the trailer it's pure awesomeness squeezed into 4 minutes and 21 seconds) and after hearing stories of past metal gear bosses like Psycho Mantis or The End (I heard the stories from people before I even knew what the game was about oddly enough). I have to say that in comparison to No More Heroes (a game with bosses that I thought were inspired by the Metal Gear series) some of MGS4's bosses are a little disappointing. But I will say this the fight with Screaming Mantis is worthy of being added to the pantheon of great metal gear bosses (Possible spoiler: Please do not look up how to beat her you can figure it out easily enough because one of the methods of stopping her is established in a previous boss fight, well kind of. My point is you should be able to figure out the trick to this boss fight after enough trial and error. Looking up what to do would take away at least half the fun of this fight in my opinion). Also while there are some issues with the final boss fight I think the way it's presented is just too cool to give it any fault. Also I'd like to mention that the game does come to a really satisfying conclusion and I can't really see any continutation of solid snake's story after this (Maybe a new protagonist will be introduced in the inevitable sequel, or the next game will be another flashback like MGS3). There are also some really cool set pieces that I would hate to spoil in this review. I really liked the ones in act 2 and 3.
Overall I would say that MGS4 is a great and worthy game to serve as a showcase for everything the PS3 can do from the beautifully rendered, and superbly acted cutscenes to the great attention to detail, and awe inspiring battles. Even if you are a newbie to the series (like I was) you can still enjoy this excellent game. Just watch that trailer with the beauty and the beast unit that I linked to earlier that shit freaked me out the first time I saw it and then watch the first four parts of the retrospective on Gametrailers you'll be prepared enough.
(Also since this game is like Sony's knight in shining armor and all, did anyone find it odd that Otacon and Sunny were using apple computers? I mean macs are great and all but wouldn't you think Sony would want them to use the Sony branded Vaios? I mean James Bond was using Sony branded products every chance he could get in Casino Royale which was also produced by Sony. Just an observation on my part I would really like to discuss it with people I mean I watched the featurettes on the extra disc included in the MGS4 collector's edition and I could plainly see that Kojima likes apple stuff but...) And I didn't make that picture up there, but it's freaking hilarious!!
Also this game automatically gets a thumbs up from me because the ending song refrences Sacco and Vanzetti. Yeah that's right. Mother fucking Sacco and Vanzetti the anarchists who were executed by the U.S. Government for being anarchists. That's like a million cool points for the game right there.
Here's to you Nicola and Bart
Rest forever here in our hearts
The last and final moment is yours
That agony is your triumph
Rest forever here in our hearts
The last and final moment is yours
That agony is your triumph