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Review: Metal Gear Solid 4
by Matthew Meadows
25.6.08
I feel like I must start this review by stating that I have never played a Metal Gear Solid game to completion before (got about 90% through MGS3) and that this may have had a negative or even positive effect on my review. So if you disagree with my review, which you have every right to, please take that into account. Previous MGS experience or not, this game is a great reason to buy a PS3, if not the reason to buy one.

Metal Gear Solid 4 manifests itself as a “Tactical Espionage Action” game. The game puts you in Solid Snake’s shoes and has you complete story-fuelled missions which are geared towards stealth action, but won’t massively punish you for going in all guns blazing. Just as a warning, you will find your Dualshock 3/Sixaxis on the chair for a large portion of the game due to frequent, if semi-interactive; cut scenes that tie up the series’ past lore to great effect. These cut-scenes are probably mind-blowing to MGS fanatics, but to me they seemed way too long, if incredibly well done with copious amounts of love put into it.

Metal Gear Solid director Hideo Kojima really added a lot of depth into the game. This depth covers things from being able to flick through a playboy magazine page by page to being able to travel back in time to a place that MGS1 fans will love to re-visit. While I thought that the extra depth would be aimed at die-hard series vets, I was surprised that I really enjoyed these little touches and it really shows how much work Konami’s team did.

This game is graphically stunning and is, along with Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune, a reason to invest in a HDTV. Lighting is well-done and character models are top-notch which means that even if the story is a little boring sometimes, you can zoom in and look at how well rendered the scenery is.
Previous Metal Gear games have been criticized for not serving polished gameplay to an extent that those not in search of a purely-story based could still enjoy the experience fully. This is not a criticism that can be aimed at Metal Gear Solid 4. The game has some really interesting mechanics that other games have failed to try. For example the “Octocamo” system lets Snake change into a camouflage which suits his surroundings. This makes the menu surfing of MGS3 a thing of the past, and makes the game a lot more fluid, thus absorbing you into the story and action. Fantastic.

My angle on the story as a relative newcomer may be controversial but apart from Solid Snake and a couple of other characters I really didn’t have much of an idea of what was going on. Sure the characters have great dialogue and the cutscenes are well directed, but most of the story seemed to be made just so that Kojima could tie up all the loose ends of the series’ past games, without much consideration for those just playing a Metal Gear Solid game for the first time. I can see why people love the story; over-the-top characters and adrenaline fuelled thrills, but it just isn’t for me.
Metal Gear Solid 4 is really remarkable from a game development perspective because it not only ties up the loose ends of the series, but it also adds a lot of new gameplay mechanics and subtle touches in the process, making this game an essential purchase. Metal Gear Solid fan our not.

9/10

Matt

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- Matthew Meadows

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