Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns Of The Patriots

ESRB:M
ONLINE:As of June 12, 2012, MGO is no longer active.
INSTALL:Yes ( Mandatory Install: 4GB | Optional Full Install: 9GB )
RELEASE DATE:June 12, 2008
PLATFORM:Playstation 3
PUBLISHER:Konami
DEVELOPER:Kojima Productions
ONLINE PASS:N/A

Story

The story is probably the biggest draw of this title to fans of the series. I know it was for me, having played every MG/MGS title ( Barring Portable Ops, since I have no PSP ). I was ready to know just what the hell was going on in the MGS universe, once and for all.

And I was not disappointed, for the most part.

I can’t really say much about it without spoiling things, but I will say that everything is answered. Anything that was left open in the previous titles does in fact come to a close, some things being a little more interesting than others, mind you.

There were some things that happened that I wish didn’t, but other than that, I enjoyed what they did, and was thoroughly impressed with just how well they actually managed to hold this 20-some-odd years of plot twists and plot holes together into a cohesive, understandable story.

If you’re new to the MGS series, then you might not understand every little detail that gets revealed, but even still, it manages to hold together very well, so even a newcomer can understand – at the very least – why he/she is going around, fighting these different PMCs and disturbed women in high tech suits.

The “flashback” bits ( Moments during cutscenes in which you must repeatedly tap the “X” button to view still images from previous titles, relating to the conversation at hand. ) also help to flesh things out a bit.

However, I will say that I was a little disappointed in the ending. Not because it was bad, or anything like that..just that it lacked the same kind of emotional punch the ending of MGS3 had. It didn’t leave me with that same “Holy crap…Really?” feeling of the 3rd title.

Overall, though, the story is a damn fine one, and well worth sitting through the cutscenes, multiple times, to get every little detail.

Presentation

The overall production values in this game are amazing. From the visuals, to the voice work, everything shines. There are a few minor problems here and there, but the good far outweighs the bad.

The problems that are there, are quite small, such as the framerate taking a small dip every now and then when things get extremely hectic. One other problem ( If you can really call it a “problem” ) is that due to KojiPro going with uncompressed sound for the audio, there are times when you can hear things you otherwise wouldn’t, such as that last “pop” of a “P” in a word like “Map”. For me, in all honesty, it makes things seem a little more believable, since they are naturally occurring sounds, after all.

Other than those couple of issues, the game runs, and looks great. In fact, there are also moments in the game were it will resemble MGS2. In a good way. Moments where the game runs at an amazingly smooth 60FPS, yet still retains the same graphical fidelity. Most of the time, though, the game runs a touch slower than that, but never slow enough to hamper the game in any way.

The detail on each weapon is quite impressive as well, from a gun’s barrel actually having depth, to seeing the Chinese letters on EVA’s Mauser.

The character models, too, are well detailed. Watching Snake smoke his cigarette during the game’s few installs is impressive. His cheeks move in as he takes a puff, and move out when he blows the smoke out. Also, usually, games have better looking models for cutscenes. Not this time. The same model you use while playing the game, is the same one you see in the cutscenes. Proof of this is the fact that his OctoCamo/Disguise stays on in the scenes, as well as the fact that there are some times that a cutscene goes directly into gameplay. The camera pans out and BOOM, you’re back in control of Snake.

Overall, the presentation is almost perfect, but the few issues I mentioned, mar the experience just a bit.

Gameplay

This is where the game really shines, in all honesty.

Gone is the archaic, top-down isometric camera of the previous games, in favor of a manually controlled, third person camera for normal movement, and a Splinter Cell/Resident Evil 4-ish Over-The-Shoulder camera for aiming which, with the click of the right analog stick ( R3 ), can be flipped to either shoulder to better aim in different circumstances. Wall blocking your way on the left? Click R3 and see if you can get a better shot on the right.

It doesn’t always help, but it’s useful most of the time.

Also new, somewhat, is the auto-aim feature. This is similar to using the L1 button in the original MGO. It locks on to the nearest target for you, allowing you to fire without having to go into the over the shoulder view. Not every weapon can be used with this feature, and you can’t get a precise aim on an enemy, meaning no headshots. You also need to be able to see the enemy, and be fairly close, to lock onto them, which is fairly risky.

Other new moves have been added to Snake’s repertoire, including the ability to “Play Dead”, which can really help to avoid patrolling soldiers and Gekko, a Metal Gear/AT-AT like, unmanned enemy, with quite powerful attacks ( On the higher difficulties, these guys can one-shot Snake with just a kick ). Snake can also now lay on his back, and actually aim, with any weapon, other than rocket launchers. This new move really opens up more defensive/offensive options, because you’re no longer helpless if you get knocked down on your back.

Also, no longer does a grenade’s trajectory/distance depend on how hard you press the fire button. It’s now displayed on screen via a visual arc on-screen. This helps to make throwing grenades much more accurate, since you can see exactly where it’s going, and where it will land.

Speaking of weapons, there are plenty to choose from now. No longer do you only have one or two options for each weapon type. There’s sure to be something here for any one, and any situation. Also, you no longer have to worry about not being able to pick up enemy guns.

However, when you first start the game, you will pick up a gun, and it will be locked. This is where Drebin comes in. Drebin can unlock PMC weapons for you, as well as sell you new, “naked” weapons. He also sells you ammo and aftermarket weapon parts ( Weapon Sights, attachable shotguns/grenade launchers, etc. ). These services are all handled with Drebin Points – the currency of the game. These are obtained by selling spare weapons to Drebin ( Done automatically on pick up, through the Mk. II ) or by finding special areas in the game that trigger special flashbacks for Snake. You also earn DP based on different ratings at the end of each Act. ( IE: How many kills you’ve made, or alerts caused. )

The Mk. II, a Metal Gear developed by Otacon and Sunny, acts as your pause menu, giving you options to change your weapon/item load out, make Codec calls, save the game, buy from Drebin’s shop, as well as acting as your map. He can also be equipped as an item, and can be used to scout the area ahead of you, and knock out any guards using his electric attack. There is a limit, however, on just how far out he can go. Go out of range, and he’ll be unequipped automatically.

The Mk. II also has a stealth function, so he can sneak past enemies unseen, though when he gets ready to attack, the stealth is deactivated. So he’s fairly balanced.

The main thing I like about the gameplay, though, is how open it is. Even though the game is very linear, there are multiple routes in each area, to the same objective so you never feel too limited. You can also choose how you want to play the game. Go in quietly, tranquilizing enemies, sneak past everyone, go in guns blazing, whatever you want to do.

That said, however, killing tons of enemies has it’s repercussions. Not only will you get fewer DP at the end of an Act, kill a lot of people in one area, and you’ll be treated to a certain quote from a certain bad guy ( Just think MGS1. It’s kinda cool, actually. ), resulting in Snake puking, and losing Psyche.

Psyche, by the way, being the replacement of the Stamina gauge of MGS3. It works in the exact same way, but is affected by different circumstances. Rather than draining constantly while moving/doing strenuous moves like rolling, it drains when you’re in a stressful environment, such as somewhere that’s extremely hot, or in the middle of a war zone. You can tell how stressed Snake is by a small number below your Psyche gauge. This, is your stress gauge. The more stressed you are, the faster your Psyche will drain.

If your stress level climbs high enough, you’ll enter a “Combat High” after firing your weapon for a while with your stress maxed out. During this state, you can aim better, and you have a better feel for the battlefield.

Another new feature is the “Threat Ring”, which is a visual representation of how much of a threat something is to you. A strong presence is represented by a large spike in the ring. This usually means an enemy is very close by. However, enemies aren’t the only things it picks up. It also detects nearby animals as well. If the ring is colored red, then it means an enemy is looking for you, and is a serious threat.

Your stress and Psyche levels also have an effect on the Threat Ring, making it harder to discern what is really a threat, and what isn’t.

The Solid Eye system replaces the binoculars, thermal goggles and night vision goggles of the previous games. No longer do you need to switch between three different items that you only use every now and then. The Solid Eye’s normal mode, displays information about enemies and items in the immediate viewing area, such as what PMC/Faction the soldier is with, his health/Psyche level, his weapon, and item names/types.

The binocular mode is just that. It acts just like the binoculars of the other games, while still displaying the same information of the Normal Mode.

Night Vision mode replaces both the Night Vision and Thermal goggles. It enhances vision in low light areas, and displays soldiers and other things that have a thermal signature as bright white figures. It also shows footprints that might otherwise be invisible. This makes it, truthfully, much more useful than ever, as you can use it to determine a guards patrol route without having to reveal yourself.

One major gripe I have, however, is something that was a problem in MGS3. You have your weapons set up the way you want, and then you get a cutscene in which Snake has a weapon. This weapon is usually the M4 or the Operator. The problem is, that this weapon will end up replacing one of the weapons in your current load out. It’s fairly annoying, especially when it replaces the weapon you’ve been using the whole time.

Other than that, the gameplay is near flawless. Every problem from the previous games has basically been addressed and taken care of.

Replay Value

The game really shines here as well. Plenty of weapons to unlock ( Including some that you can’t buy from Drebin. ), special items, like Stealth and the Bandana, multiple difficulties, emblems and the online mode. There’s plenty to do after the credits roll. The end game emblems actually reward you for playing on higher difficulties, as some of them can only be gotten then.

There are also scripted events that happen in the game, that you probably won’t see your first time through, so it’s good to take those alternate routes sometimes.

As of August 6th, 2012, Trophies have been enabled within Metal Gear Solid 4. They are exactly what I thought they would be, and we finally have a Metal Gear game that includes a trophy that requires the Big Boss Emblem.

This is not going to be an easy Platinum for you trophy hunters out there, so, if you’re looking for a challenge, definitely check this game out.

Overall

Overall, the game really is a masterpiece. There were a couple of things I didn’t like ( Which I can’t say without spoiling the story. ), but they were just minor, nitpicking gripes of a long-time fan, rather than anything serious. There were a couple of graphical issues, which I already talked about earlier, and like I said, they don’t hamper the game in anyway, and the good far, far outweighs the trivial nuisances.

Honestly, this game should be in every PS3 owner’s collection. Whether you’ve played the previous games or not. If you have, you’ll probably enjoy the game a bit more, if not, you might get a little lost sometimes, but never enough that you won’t know why you’re doing what you’re doing. It’ll be more trivial details, like why do some of these characters matter so much. This game definitely shouldn’t be missed.

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PROS CONS
  • Overall, a story that does a great job tying up 20+ years of plot holes.
  • Gameplay is some of the best in the series, very open.
  • Tons of weapon options for both lethal and non-lethal playstyles.
  • Some story elements feel forced for the sake of closure.
  • Moments where cutscenes seem to drag on forever.
  • Moments that feel like they would have been better as gameplay.
  • FINAL VERDICT
    Click here or on the verdict image to the left for full disclosure of what these ratings mean!

    About James Headrick

    Gamer & Fractal Artist. // Lover of giant robots & Fighting in Streets. I've been gaming for over 20 years, and writing reviews for over 10 now. ReviewHaven is my baby.
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