There will always be a big game or two that falls off the radar for people even though they desperately want to play it due to factors in life. One of those games for me was Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots. It was just recently that I found time to get into a game that I’ve been meaning to play for a while now. You might be asking why I’m reviewing a year old game but I found Metal Gear Solid 4 to be such a fun experience that I had to share my thoughts on it even though it’s long overdue. It’s also because of that that I don’t have to get into too much depth in telling the story and so forth as most people should know that by now. With that I can get straight into the heart of the game and share my thoughts on one of the best PlayStation 3 titles I’ve played so far.
I’ve played Metal Gear Solid and Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty but didn’t manage to get through too much of Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater before I had to move onto other things. So, I’m pretty familiar with how the gameplay worked. Controlling Snake was pretty easy and it was just like riding a bike for me; it didn’t take long for me to get comfortable with the control scheme. Snake had his usual moves of taking cover, crouching, and crawling his way through the environments. CQC is back as well and you’ll be shooting at things with a vast array of guns in both third and first person view.
Right off the bat you’re thrown into a battle between two sides. It’s here that makes this game a little different than the others in that there’s an actual war going on and you don’t really have to get involved if you don’t want to. Sure the PMC will shoot you on sight but you can also just as easily avoid conflict and let the two sides duke it out. I did like that taking down the PMC did give me some good will with the resistance and thought it was quite amusing to see little heart icons when I was liked by them. I don’t remember ever playing a Metal Gear game, and again I only played about a few hours of 3, where there were actual NPCs so it was a nice change to see that appear in Metal Gear Solid 4.
Stealth, as usual, plays a big factor in the game but it’s not too frustrating this time. There’s a threat circle that surrounds you showing what you have to watch out for and in which direction. The larger the deviation in a particular area of the circle, the bigger the threat is. It’s a great visual cue that helps the player see the danger around him.
One of the annoying things I found my short play of 3 was having to change my camo manually so that I had the best percentage of cover. Solid Snake has a great suit that automatically changes to a camo that helps him blend into his surroundings, much like a chameleon. All I need to do was stand or lay still for a few seconds and the suit will do its best to match the environment. This aspect really helped out a lot and I didn’t have to micromanage how my disguise looked. You can still do your camo manually but the auto-camo capability really helps ease the frustration of being stealthy and hiding.
The fact that you have easy access to purchase weapons, ammo, and items no matter where you are just by going into the menu system once you meet Drebin also helped lower the frustration factor of the game. I can’t tell you how many times I jumped into the menu in the middle of the fight to buy some more ammo for my primary gun but this gameplay mechanic really saved me a lot. Sure, it’s not realistic to be able to just dial up ammo and weapons with ease but Metal Gear’s never been realistic now has it?
If there’s one thing I never enjoyed about the Metal Gear series, it is the convoluted and confusing plot. With Metal Gear Solid 4, there’s plenty of plot. I mean you’ll sit through hours upon hours of cut scenes trying to make a cohesive story with plot twists left and right but the fact remains it’s just really hard to follow everything that’s going on. Yes, Metal Gear Solid 4 does a lot to tie the three previous games together and features elements from all of them. In that sense it’s pretty cool how Kojima worked a lot of the past into 4. On the other hand, he could’ve cut down a lot of the dialogue though and just made it a lot less confusing. I will say that you’ll be spending an hour after the final battle watching the end sequence and it suffers from an ending that should have ended 30 minutes into it. I’m sure if you’ve finished it you know which part I am talking about but Kojima had to keep on going and ruin what I thought would’ve been a perfect ending to the series and main hero. Alas, like Lord of the Rings: Return of the King or A.I., the ending to Metal Gear Solid 4 just went too long to make it impactful.
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