Metal Gear Solid 4
Developer: Kojima Productions
ESRB Rating: M (17+)
Genre: Action Adventure > Modern
Platform: Playstation 3 (Exclusive)
Well-versed gamers will be no stranger to the world of Solid Snake. Metal Gear Solid has established itself as one of the mighty in the realm of stealth gaming. As one of the most anticipated releases for the PS3, Metal Gear Solid 4 hits its target.
Bluntly, MGS4 is a pretty game. Easily one of the best looking games on the PS3. However, while the style of the game fits perfectly into the series, the graphics are not as great as one would expect. While being a definite upgrade in graphics, the jump from MGS3 just does not seem to have the same visual impact that MGS2 and MGS3 had. Enough bashing of my perceived visual shortcomings of the game, it is a great looking game. The textures are clean, lighting falls properly (although light does not play quite a large of a role as in the Splinter Cell series) and the various locations around the world that are visited in the game are rendered beautifully. The game is set in the near future, so most of the settings will be recognizable as most know them currently. And Shadow Moses rendered on the PS3 is quite nostalgic.
The sound in MGS4 is outstanding. On a surround system, it should be discernable as to where things are coming from and even in stereo, the game is great. The score by Harry Gregson-Williams is quality all-around. The music of MGS has always been great and this one does not disappoint. The cow noises are a bit disconcerting though. You may wonder where they are coming from, trust me, it’s not a cow.
The gameplay of MGS4 is outstanding. It is basically the same system from the last two games, only refined to be friendlier. The camera in previous MGS games was top down with ability for a first-person view. This limited the range of sight in the games unless you hopped into first-person. The views needed to be combined for a proper view of the surrounding area. In MGS4, the camera is a hybrid of Splinter Cell-like (360 degrees) control and a target reticule in third-person that allows for running and gunning in a semi-controlled manner. You can hit stuff, but first-person is always more accurate. The performance of the game overall is great for the amount of detail on screen. There are times where a visible change from smooth frame rates to slightly more choppy ones can be noticed. The game does not suffer because of this though. The only real issue that most people will have is with the game’s cinematics. If you have played any previous MGS, you know what you are in for. The cinematic quality of the game is in its mixing of gameplay and cinematics. This is just as much of a movie as it is a game. The cinematics are good yes, but most of the time they are excessively long. The only saving grace is that most of the long cinematics have a save near the half way point, but it is still advisable not to play this game if you are in a rush. In a break from tradition, MGS4 allows for much more access to your average gamer. The previous MGS games were sneak heavy and limited the amount of ammunition that was available. This made for a game that pushed sneaking by trouble more than gunning it down. In MGS4, Drebin is the limit. If you are so inclined to sneak, you can. If, however, you want to lay down all your previous pent up frustrations with sneak games and go through ammo like water, you can do that too! The game allows for all comers to gun as they like. Finally, the camo system is back. Snake now sports a suit of camo that adapts to the setting around him for greater stealth. This as well can be played as hardcore as one wants as well. There is an auto setting that will allow the suit to adjust colors automatically or if one wishes, it can be done manually. Overall, MGS4 is a blending and advancement of the systems from other MGS games.
Controls in MGS4 are fluid. There may be a lot to grasp at first if you have not played a MGS game in a while or never at all. Old MGS fans should not have a problem getting back into the game’s controls though. They are mostly the same. For newcomers, the controls are intuitive, but could be overwhelming at first. A few trips around the interface and most gamers will be ready to rock. The main issue with control will probably be in the sneaking area. Wall crawling might be slightly awkward at first. Hitting the wrong button at the wrong time and other mix ups could be problematic at first. Popping out from a wall instead of pulling a weapon can end nastily. More than likely, a certain play style will develop for the player. One player might like to crawl along the wall and pop out on enemies and another player may like to stay off the walls, but stay near them for cover and not physically interact with them.
Metal Gear Solid 4 is a Metal Gear Solid game in style, substance and gameplay. It is the evolution of many MGS games into something that should be fun to play, intriguing, and beautiful to look at. The game’s story may only suffer from it being back story heavy. Players not well versed in the MGS world might have a bit of confusion at times. Mostly things are explained, but some things might require a bit of outside research. Nevertheless, it is still a fun game for the uninitiated. This is a worthy entry into the genre of sneak games. Its near future setting and themes discussed in the game make for a politically relevant story while still allowing for some science-fiction license. There are other sneak games like MGS in gameplay, but the story makes MGS4 stand out.
Metal Gear Solid 4 is a must-have for any MGS fan. The game is accessible enough that it might draw in new players that may be intrigued enough to go back and play its predecessors. Still plagued by ridiculously long cinematics, the game does feel like it offers a bit more gameplay than cinematics compared to earlier MGS games. And the game is just beautiful. Metal Gear Solid 4 is a worthy addition to the MGS family at a 9.5 rating.