Metal Gear Solid 4 is stealth action gold

Gaming, PlayStation 3, Sci-Fi & Fantasy

Guns of the Patriots, Solid Snake, Old Snake
SOLID SNAKE AKA OLD SNAKE FROM MGS4. ALL IMAGES COURTESY OF KONAMI.

Hideo Kojima’s Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots is not just a video game, it’s a masterful blend of beautiful cinematics and fluid gameplay.

Packed full of amazing action, stunning graphics, fantastic characters and an incredibly rich story, MGS4 offers an unparalleled sense of immersion in a sci-fi shooter’s paradise.

It might be a little early to make the call, but I’m going to say MGS4 is Game of the Year for 2008. Sure, Grand Theft Auto 4 was fantastic and Gears of War 2 will surely blow (or chainsaw) our minds in November, but MGS4 packs so much of a punch, I just can’t imagine anything better.

Some of the cut scenes are long and there are frequent load screens, but these are not problems for what is a glorious gaming experience.

Guns of the Patriots, Solid Snake, Old Snake
GET INTO THE FIGHT, OR SNEAK AROUND – IT’S UP TO YOU.

MGS4 is an exclusive title for the PlayStation 3, so if you don’t already own a PS3 this is the reason to buy one. I’ve had a PS3 since January, and I’ve played most of the consoles’ exclusive titles. They were fun. Resistance: Fall of Man, Heavenly Sword and Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune were some of the best, but none of them comes close to the quality MGS4 offers.

If you’re already a fan of Solid Snake and the Metal Gear franchise, you’ll be happy to know MGS4 is the best of the series. Graphics and gameplay have been much improved over MGS3. Load times are short and everything fits on one Blu-ray disc, which is nice. One of the coolest new features of the game is the online multiplayer mode, something fans new and old will surely enjoy.

Guns of the Patriots, Solid Snake, Old Snake
GRAPHICS ARE IN 1080P AND THE GAME CLOCKS 60 FRAMES PER SECOND. GLORIOUS!

While it’s impossible to list everything that’s cool about this game, I’ll do my best to name a few.

Metal Gear games have always been about stealth. Whether you’re avoiding the detection of a group of enemy soldiers or a lone surveillance camera, sneaking around has always been the key to victory.

Not anymore.

In MGS4, Snake (the battle-hardened, tough-as-nails main character) has much more freedom to do whatever he wants. He can crawl around and hide in the shadows or shoot his way to the next checkpoint. Overall, stealth beats the run-and-gun style of playing, but the open-ended gameplay is a major improvement that allows you the opportunity to decide which tactic is best.

Guns of the Patriots, Solid Snake, Old Snake
EVERY SCENE OF MGS4 FEELS CINEMATIC
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There are dozens of really cool light and heavy weapons for Snake to use on his missions, and each one is customizable with various scopes and attachments. The best part of the weapon system is how you acquire munitions. Scavenge guns and ammo from the battlefield and whatever extras you get are converted into credits that you use to buy whatever you want (weapons, ammo, grenades, medkits). All this happens through a weapons launderer named Drebin, one smart dude who has all the coolest toys.

Guns of the Patriots, Solid Snake, Old Snake
SOLID EYE SEES ALL, KNOWS ALL.

Another combat highlight is all the cool future-tech gear you get to use. Though this is nothing new to Metal Gear, technology has come a long way since Snake’s last adventure. New core tech includes Octocamo, which can replicate any wall or floor pattern/texture within a few seconds to provide complete camouflage; Solid Eye, which is like an eye patch that has a binocular, night vision and radar; and the Mark II, which is like a little robot scout that has full cloaking capabilities and can open doors and shock enemies until they are unconscious.

Guns of the Patriots, Solid Snake, Mark II, Mark III
OLD SNAKE AND THE MARK II. THE PERFECT TEAM.

Finally, I have to talk about the incredible story that takes place in this game. Metal Gear games have always been filled with lots of wacky characters and complicated subject matters that are sometimes confusing. MGS4 does an incredible job of clearly explaining events from the past and what’s going on now. It’s a bittersweet story though as this game is said to be Snake’s last.

In MGS4, Snake is aging at an accelerated rate due to all of the cellular manipulation his body has gone through over the years. The problem is that there is no cure…or is there?

Snake doesn’t seem to care as much about a cure as he does finishing one last mission: take down his twin brother Liquid Snake (now Liquid Ocelot…trust me, they explain all this very well). He might be “Old Snake,” coughing and groaning throughout the game with aches and pains from years of battle, but he can still kick ass.

Guns of the Patriots, Solid Snake, Old Snake
AND YOU THOUGHT SNAKE WAS BADASS. THANKFULLY RAIDEN IS ON YOUR SIDE.

The story unfolds as you play the game and also through a lot of cinematics (animated cut scenes) that are truly spectacular. The quality is on par or better than a lot of CGI or anime movies I’ve seen.

You should know there are A LOT of cinematics (some of them I’ve heard are an hour long), so if that’s not your thing you probably won’t like this game. But the production quality is so great that it’s not a negative but a positive element that enhances the game.

The voice acting is superb and the writing is smart, edgy and at times poetic. It’s through this mix of cut scenes and gameplay that MGS4 really blends the line between playing a video game and watching a movie. All of these wonderful elements translate into a fully immersive environment that is not common in video games, especially first-person and third-person shooters.

Bravo to Hideo Kojima and Konami for making the best game of 2008 and taking the shooter genre to new heights.

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