Developer/s: Kojima Productions
Platform/s: PlayStation 3
Genre: Stealth, action
Vintage: 12 June 2008
Metal Gear Solid 4 is set in 2014, five years after the Big Shell incident. The world economy relies on continuous war, fought by PMCs, which outnumber government military forces. PMC soldiers are outfitted with nanomachines to enhance their abilities and control the battlefield. The control network created through these nanomachines is called Sons of the Patriots (SOP), and Liquid Ocelot is preparing to hijack the system. Snake accepts a request from Roy Campbell to terminate Liquid, with Otacon and Sunny providing mission support from the Nomad aircraft – wiki
Warning: the following contains spoilers, do not proceed unless you have completed the story mode of Metal Gear Solid 4.
Graphics: 5/5 – Metal Gear Solid 4 is the most technically stunning game I have ever seen. Kojima and his team have created a virtual world with painstaking attention to detail, and both the characters and environments look breathtaking. From Middle-Eastern urban war zones, South American jungles, Eastern European cities/cathedrals and beyond, each location is vast and detailed. The game world, though somewhat linear in actuality, feels huge and open-ended and offers plenty of exploration. The environmental effects are also impressive, the Middle-Eastern section will send sand hitting your screen and the icy island of Shadow Moses throws Snake into a snowy blizzard. The textures and shaders employed are amazing and the game manages to retain its brilliant level of graphical quality from start to finish.
Gameplay: 5/5 – Solid Snake (though refered to as Old Snake in MGS4) has never been easier to control, and because you now have full control over the camera (using the right analog stick) navigating Snake through the game world is far more intuitive and fun than ever before. As always with Metal Gear Solid, stealth plays a huge role in MGS4 and this time Snake is equipped with a camo suit that allows you to blend in with your environment. So if you’re tired of hiding in a drum or cardboard box the camo suit is a vastly superior alternative to hiding in this game. Snake’s age is apparent from the beginning and ‘Old Snake’ doesn’t move or respond as fast as he used to in previous games. The new psyche meter is depleted whenever Snake is under extreme pressure (like being hunted by an enemy) and if it is completely exhausted Snake with be unable to aim properly, experience bodily pain and sometimes even black out completely if struck by an enemy. Apart from the myriad of weapons (I didn’t even bother to use them all, there were so many) Snake has access to the ‘Solid Eye’, a bionic eyepatch with several different vision modes like night vision and so on as well as the Mk II (later Mk III) a small bi-pedal reconnaissance robot that can be used to stun enemies and scout the area. The game world is strewn with countless enemies and generally you’ll be able to collect items and weapons off of them, what made the game a bit easier than previous installments is that you can basically never run out of weapons as after meeting Drebin (a gun runner) you always have access to his shop where you’re able to buy weapons and ammunition using ‘Drebin points’, Drebin points are obtained on the battle field whenever you find new weapons, they’re added to your inventory, duplicate weapons are sold to Drebin automatically sans ammunition so it’s basically impossible to run out of firepower. The option to use Drebin’s store exists even during boss battles.
Characters: 5/5 – The return of Snake as protagonist is one of the reasons why this game rocks so hard, Raiden is present in MGS4 but isn’t a playable character this time around (Raiden was the protagonist of Metal Gear Solid 2). Snake is a character with a rich background and other familiar characters (friend and foe) like Otacon, Roy Campbell, Liquid Ocelot and Meryl Silverburgh return in starring roles as well as a host of new villains that Snake must contend with.
Soundtrack: 5/5 – Since Metal Gear Solid on the PSOne, the Metal Gear series has always had an epic score, and MGS4 is no exception. The soundtrack has plenty of fast-paced techno tracks (like during the boss battles) as well as a multitude of epic orchestral tracks and 2 vocal themes. The opening theme (Love Theme) is sung by Jackie Presti and the ending theme (Here’s to You) is sung by Lisbeth Scott. Many of the themes are quite haunting and serve as a kind of send-off for ‘Old Snake’. Overall, MGS4 has one of the greatest soundtracks I’ve ever heard in a video game.
Lifespan: 5/5 – I managed to complete MGS4 in just under 20 hours, excluding cut scenes (of which there’s over 8 hours worth). MGS4 is a lengthy adventure that offers loads of re-playability long after you’ve completed the game. There are all sorts of titbits strewn throughout the game as well as several hidden surprises and an online multiplayer mode.
Overall: 5/5 – I’m giving Metal Gear Solid 4 a perfect score simply because it’s one of the best games that I’ve ever encountered. The game has been criticized for having overly extended cut-scenes however I feel that they only serve to enrich the story further. What people fail to realize is that cut-scenes as well as quick time events (though no QT events are really present in this game) allow game developers to include sections that would be overly complex to control in-game (like dramatic fight scenes). On a similar note, cut-scenes can be paused and skipped so if you’re impatient the aforementioned options should appeal to you. Overall, if there’s one game to get for PlayStation 3 it’s this one. Hideo Kojima has really created something special with MGS4 and I highly recommend that anyone with a PS3 play this game asap, what makes it even better is that it’s available on the Platinum range so there’s no excuse not to partake in Solid Snake’s final adventure.