Developer/Publisher: Kojima Productions/Konami
Release Date: June 12, 2008
Rating: M
Available On: Sony Playstation 3
Genre: Stealth action
Number of Players: 1
Price: $5.00 on LeapTrade

Strong Points: Engrossing story; graphics, animation and sound are all as good as they come; superb stealth system; combat feels fluid and natural
Weak Points: A few of the cutscenes may be too long for some players, though they can be either paused or skipped

Moral Warnings: Violence is used throughout the game, with some blood; certain female characters show cleavage, and the camera also gives the option to zoom in on it; playboy magazines can be seen and looked through in the game, though no nudity is present; some strong language peppered throughout the campaign, including f- and s- words; Old Snake smokes… a lot

Fans of the Metal Gear Solid series have been anticipating the fourth installment for quite a while now. Kojima Productions, the developer behind the fourth game in the series, has gone all out in polishing the game technically, trying to give it the most immersive experience seen yet in gaming. However, even with excellent graphics and superb playability, a game needs more to it than pretty explosions, resounding gunshots and good controls to make it something to remember; that is, the story, the most important aspect to any single player game, is necessary, and through much work and sweat, Kojima Productions manages not only to give the game a fantastic story (which, incidentally, manages to tie up all loose ends left dangling in previous games), but also gives it such a presentation that it will be remembered for generations to come.

The story of Metal Gear Solid 4 is actually quite simple to grasp. The game’s protagonist, Solid Snake, now codenamed Old Snake due to the premature aging occurring because his “clone” engineering is breaking down, is tasked with going into the Middle East and taking out Liquid, one of the game\'s main antagonists. Liquid is thought to be raising an army to take over the Sons of the Patriots organization. Sons of the Patriots, or SOP, is a nanomachine system used mainly by the PMCs to enforce the loyalty of their soldiers and to track them. The nano bots are injected into all soldiers, and can be used for many purposes, one of the most beneficial being silent talk. This lets soldiers of the same company talk and think as one, without so much as opening their mouths. If Liquid were to control Sons of the Patriots, he would have total control over anyone injected with the bots which would make him near unstoppable. Thus, Snake and company have reason enough to take him out. While I cannot say too much about the story without spoiling it, I will say that throughout this epic tale, you will come into contact with many old friends and foes previously seen in earlier Metal Gear Solid games.

Metal Gear Solid 4’s narrative, which in truth just boils down to having to take out the bad guy and save the world, has been seen elsewhere in other games of its ilk. However, the way in that it\'s told hasn’t been seen before. Truly the most amazing part to the game is the way that the narrative is told. It grabs hold of you and won’t let go until the very end, which, incidentally, is one of the most amazing moments in all of gaming. What makes it so unique is that the cutscenes, many of them ranging into the half hour-hour mark (they can be paused for breaks, though), are directed in such a way that they don’t feel like a game. When one of those epic scenes starts, it automatically feels like you’ve been put into a movie. One of the most notable reasons contributing to this effect would be the ‘flashbacks’ which occur during some of the movies. These flashbacks take place when you complete a certain button press (usually tap X repeatedly) that will appear in the upper left-hand corner of your screen. However, this also means you don’t want to put the controller down and relax completely during the movie scenes. Doing so may cause you to miss one of the prompted button presses, making you miss a flashback, which added quite a bit to the movie feel of the game.

However, this is also Metal Gear Solid 4’s biggest downfall: some of the movies may be too long for certain players. If you’re seeking an action story and nothing else, know that this game is probably not for you. Yet if story is irrelevant to you completely, the scenes can be skipped totally.

Metal Gear Solid games have always been about sneaking around behind enemy lines, avoiding detection at all costs, usually to retrieve a certain item or take out a certain person. Combat has never been the primary focus of the series, due mainly to tricky camera angles and buggy shooting controls. With Metal Gear Solid 4, that changes. Kojima Productions has tuned the combat so well that the game can, if desired, be played as a shooter. The aiming mechanics will feel familiar to anyone who has played Gears of War or the like, with L1 bringing up your weapon and R1 firing it. Or you could, if preferred, fight from the first person point of view. First person is triggered by holding L1 and clicking Triangle, and you’ll revert to the regular third person perspective once L1 is released. Those two control schemes open the game up to players wanting an action experience, whether as a shooter more as to the likes of Halo or third person action game similar to Gears of War.

Gun-and-duck cover taking is also a major aspect to the fighting, since Snake will take damage extremely quickly when in the open. You can take cover behind nearly any surface in the game, though some items will make better choices than others. For instance, you could jump behind the nearest fence when you begin to receive fire, yet bullets will pass through it if it isn’t thick enough. This has been seen before, yet in a game where every bullet you take could very likely mean the difference between life and death, it adds a considerable amount of strategy to the overall experience.

Early on in the campaign you will come across a weapons dealer named Drebin. Through him you will be able to purchase numerous weapons; you’ll find everything from a sniper rifle to a submachine gun to a rocket launcher in his shop. However, he doesn’t take money. What he takes is a special kind of points, called none other than Drebin points. These are collected in the field by picking up enemy guns. If the gun is already in your stock, it’s automatically sent to Drebin, minus the ammo, and you’ll be awarded precious Drebin points for your trouble. However, the points are good for more than just adding another gun to your inventory. Drebin will also supply you with explosives, ammo and weapon upgrades. And to add to the ease of use, Drebin’s shop can be accessed through the menu screen at any point in the game using the Mk. II, which will ferry items and weapons between you and Drebin.

If stealth is your preferred style of play, the game can still be played from that perspective, even with the large steps taken by the developer to bring in the action crowd. Old Snake has many gadgets which make sneaking about undetected in an enemy camp extremely fun. The OctoCamo suit is the most useful of them all. What this body armor does is blend Snake in with whatever the background. If you were to lie up against a white wall, your suit would automatically turn the exact shade of white as the wall. This works for any obstacle in an environment. The Face Camo, which you’ll discover a few hours into the game, is nearly identical in effect to the OctoCamo suit. It’s a mask that will blend into any background, making you even harder to detect.

Another asset to the stealth system is the Mk. II. This recon robot is used for exactly that: recon. Using its invisible cloak, you are able to sneak about quickly and avoid detection. The Mk. II can be used to stun enemies and pick up items, and it also serves as your contact between both Drebin and Otacon.

Graphically speaking, Metal Gear Solid 4 is one of the most beautiful games out there. The environments, to start off with, are gorgeous. The blades of grass and weeds will sway individually if a gust of wind should happen to disturb them, and they will crunch under foot or belly if Old Snake is crawling around within them. Smoke effects are another well done part of the graphics package. If a spray of machine gun fire runs along the ground, you’ll notice how the dust kicks up above the holes left by the bullets, and floats away, diminishing with longevity from the cloud it was to scant dust particles. However, even with how well done the environments are, they pale in comparison to the facial animations found in this game. Characters in Metal Gear Solid 4 portray emotions with such uncanny effect that you will likely think the faces on screen are that of real actors, and not computer generated images. It truly has to be seen to be believed.

Equal in class to the graphics is the audio quality in MGS4. The greatest reason for this is the voice acting, which is, honestly, Hollywood worthy. Snake sounds like a man in agony when he’s supposed too, and certain villains will likely creep players out with their eerie, albeit mechanical, voices (although the enemies in question are part robotic). Besides the exceptional voice acting, other sound effects, like gunshots and explosions, sound great, especially when paired with surround sound. Musically, Metal Gear Solid 4 has an extremely memorable score. It suits the game perfectly, adding even more emotional feeling where needed.

Morally, Metal Gear Solid 4 has several things hurting it. First off, and most notable, is the violence found within the game. The object of the game comes down to, in essence, having to kill the bad guys. However, the violence used is more like that found within a game like Call of Duty than that in, say, Gears of War. There is some blood, though it\'s kept mostly to cutscenes, and there is no gore to speak of. However, I can’t say the same for the language found throughout the campaign. Everything up to and including the f-word is used, though the worse of four letter words are infrequent, especially considering they namely appear in cutscenes. There is also some “potty humor” in Metal Gear Solid 4, though nothing explicitly “dirty”. For instance, at one point during a firefight, a friend of Snake\'s craps in his pants, with complete sound effects and groaning. The “Suggestive Themes” rating on the back of the box refers to several things. The most chiefly noticeable reason for that rating would be the Playboy magazines that can be used to distract enemy soldiers, causing them to become totally oblivious to anything but the pages they are flipping through. Old Snake can also look through the magazines, though all the women in the magazines are in swimsuits; there is no nudity. That rating also refers to some suggestive comments made by certain characters, and the cleavage shown off by some of the female characters (which, during certain cutscenes, you are given the option to zoom in on). The last thing that should be mentioned in this section is Snake and company smoke frequently.

Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots is, without a doubt, a game that will be remembered for generations to come. Through its impressive graphics, amazing story presentation and epic characters, the game amazes in all areas. While some may be put off by the unusually long cutscenes, those numbers will be few; the game in between those story sequences more than makes up for having to sit through an hour long movie scene, compelling the player to proceed through the game by offering up amazing gameplay. So, if you own a PS3, there should be nothing stopping you from picking up this game today, if the moral objections don\'t deter you. It’s just that good.
Game Play 19/20
Graphics 10/10
Sound 10/10
Controls 5/5
Interface 5/5
Appropriateness 35/50
-5 for sexual references and revealing clothing
-5 for swearing
-5 for blood and violence

Final Score 84%

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