Metal Gear Solid 4 launched with great anticipation by fans and even non fans alike. There was so much at stake here: Everyone wanted to know how this unequaled 20 year old franchise will end, how the legend will go, and the final swan song of our favorite hero: Solid Snake. Forget the hype, forget the anticipation, and forget the excitement: this game will blow that all away to smithereens. It is the only game to even dare to go beyond all of such trivial matters. I expected nothing lower than the sky, yet Kojima Productions have reached the celestial heavens. Look no further here for an utterly sweet, perfect end, for what you experience shall literally blow your mind to bits and chunks. Hard to follow and hard to accomplish, Kojima has done the impossible, the unspeakable, and the ineffable in gaming and storytelling perfection. My final wish after playing Metal Gear Solid 4 is to meet the man behind it all and commend him for achieving the impossible. I honestly doubt I will play a more well-made, polished, and utterly unforgettable experience this generation, and quite possibly my lifetime. I'm actually quite tempted to dock my other reviews a few points – MGS4 has set a completely new standard. And also, this begs the question: Are video games a form of art?
The graphics look incredibly lifelike – everything down to the character models, faces, environment, and clothing. Everything is really, really crisp. There are other games pushing more polygons, of course, but you probably won't see better polish anywhere else. Each crisp, painstaking detail is accounted for in character motions, animations, and facial expressions mostly. Not to mention, the game runs at an incredibly smooth 60 frames per second, with few drops to 30 frames despite extraordinary action on screen. However, they're hardly noticeable, your whole experience will be smooth throughout. Also, when I say action on screen, believe me, there is plenty of action. Bombs, physics, explosions, smoke effects, firefights, soldiers looking at playboys, etc – everything happening around you all at once makes the atmosphere exceedingly immersive. I wouldn't doubt it if Kojima actually pushed the Cell processor to its limits – the final product is nothing less than extraordinary. The game looks absolutely breathtaking. As of 2008, you won't find a better-looking console game out there.
Color scheme – some people have complained about the early trailers: “It's too gray! It's too green! It's too mahogany!” Well, your complaints have been answered. Colors are especially more lush and vibrant in the final product. There's definitely less of that “gray filter” look from what was in the early trailers while everything retains its natural vibe.
Octo-Camo – Yes, Octo-Camo suit deserves its own section here. I was utterly impressed with what it was able to do with the textures. Bump mapping is even copied, bringing impeccable detail to the suit. You'll find yourself messing around with this suit often by tagging on to every texture you see. It's accurate, beautiful, and it's just damn fun to mess around with. The Octo-camo alone makes MGS4 next-gen, it's a definite huge step up from MGS3's survival viewer selection.
Utter perfection in every level. While still retaining its core sneak mechanics from the past MGS games, it manages to do things in a whole new way. The game almost has a different vibe with the new form of controls. Shooting and aiming snaps on so smoothly, even switching to first person view is filled with ease. The camera is incredibly easy to maneuver, and aiming is one of the best in ANY third person action game. The new shooting system makes you want to shoot, it's so fun! But this is STILL Metal Gear, and judging from my experience with Big Boss Hard, you'll be toast in seconds if you decide to run and gun.
To describe this to newcomers, Metal Gear isn't just about stealth. Metal Gear is Metal Gear, a whole new genre of its own. It's a game that requires skill, timing, style, and finesse. Why many find Metal Gear so innovative and addicting - it isn't really a broad game in a certain genre, it's ultimately an art form requiring beauty, precision, and accuracy. You can even mess this painting up by just ignoring these steps and going freestyle with a load of bullets, to which Snake does his Rambo scream, "AHHhhhaHAhaaaaahhhh!!!!!!!" There's just so many ways to play this game - perfect and hone your technique, or just play it like a shooter, it's all up to you.
You begin somewhere in the Middle East and battle alongside the PMCs/Militia through some of the most intense, and chaotic battles you ever did witness in a videogame. There are tons of explosions, robotic enemies coming in for air assaults, and enemies relentlessly trying to kill you. Are these epic moments? Oh, you bet. Everything you've imagined in a warzone and even more is recreated here, and the beauty of it all is that even with such frenetic activity, this still remains a Metal Gear game at heart with its core stealth action game play. You can choose to make this a run and gun, or you can make this a sneaking game – it's all up to you. With over 70 available weapons in your arsenal (customisable no less), there are plenty of ways to execute enemies to your liking, as well as a horde of replay value. And also, what makes MGS4 a metal gear game without intense boss fights? Well, Metal Gear Solid 4 doesn't disappoint anyone in this department. Although the first boss is quite easy (just like the Ocelot fight in MGS1), as you proceed, you'll find that different and creative strategies will be needed for each boss making them entirely intuitive and frenetic.
The Drebin system is another great, innovative addition. You pick up guns and ammo from dead soldiers, and you give it to Drebin for “Drebin Points.” This all can be done within the menu. Having tons of weapons, this adds tons of replayability, as you want to unlock and upgrade all the weapons for a complete collection.
And what makes the game play so incredibly beautiful, so amazing, so immense – is that what you see isn't what you get. I'm not going to spoil anything for you, but I'll tell you that the gameplay keeps on changing in whole new and different ways. Just when you think you know what's going on, when every other game allows you to know what you're playing… Metal Gear Solid 4 keeps on changing and innovating what you think you believe, while adding plenty and PLENTY of variety to keep you on the edge of your seat. Actually, let me correct that: MGS4 will make you fall from your seat and slide against the ground, over and over and over again. The surprises here are simply no less than astounding.
To audiophiles all over the world, yes, MGS4 supports 5.1 surround sound. The sound here is incredibly amazing, you just have to hear it yourself to believe it. Every gun sounds incredibly life like and distinct in so many ways. From everything down to the grandiose explosions to the sounds of even a silenced Mk22, the sound is something that can't fully be described, but experienced. If you do not have a 5.1 surround sound setup or headphones, buy one just for this game.
As for the music… I'm at a loss of words. This is just one of the few games where the music is entirely memorable and emotional. Okay, I reluctantly admit, I teared quite a bit, but with good reason though: The perfection and addition of certain moments coupled with the music provided such a grandiose and immersive adventure. The music and orchestra perfectly fit each section, making an incredibly unrivaled, emotional, experience that won't be equaled anywhere else.
Mix in incredible characters, incredible voice acting, surprising plot twists, and a bout of artistic cutscenes, and you've got yourself a keeper. The story's presentation is through the cutscenes the majority of the time, bringing the showing and not telling technique alive. The cutscenes are, however, pretty long. With each summation, and each loose end tied, it's no surprise. I'm afraid that if I say anything, MGS4 would be spoiled and blemished for you, so I won't. Take it as it comes – the humour is all there, as well as underlying themes about peace, negotiations, and bravery – it's the true work of an artist. Unrivaled and unequaled, Metal Gear Solid 4 isn't just about the deep characters or rather complex plotline; it's an ultimate art form, and what Kojima ultimately achieved.
While there's a whole lot of replayability in the single player section – everything from unlockables and collectables (Ipod songs, weapons, upgrades, etc) to marvel at the open ended gameplay – the online is where the fun is definitely at! Fun and intense, the customization in Metal Gear Online is incredibly deep. You can choose what abilities you want and can level them up as well. Although it is more tactical in nature – this plays a lot like a great shooter on the market. The SOP system encourages teamwork for full on tactical cooperation. You can see where your allies are and when your teammates need help.
There are some very unique modes here. For instance, one mode includes Solid Snake vs. Red and Blue Team. One person controls Solid Snake with Octo-Camo, while the other teams try to kill him 3 times. Snake, however, has to capture 3 enemy dog tags in a row. If Snake does get killed, the meter will be reset. However, this is only a “starter pack” for MGO. We'll get more modes and maps later on, but online is already done well. There is more content in its “starter pack” than many other games out there, and with additional modes, it gives you plenty of reason to come back even months later after beating the game.
Closing thoughts: (10/10)
Metal Gear Solid 4 has done the impossible: Created perfection. Technical flaws are insanely hard to find, it is incredibly polished, and the gameplay surprises are unforeseen and immersive. You owe it to yourself to buy this game. The amount of hard work spent – the blood, sweat, and tears, is entirely evident with the breathtaking quality in this game. Get your hands on it whenever you see it, and when you play it, never let the precious moment pass you by. A truly unforgettable and unrivaled experience: Hideo Kojima, I give my salute to you as the creator of one of the greatest games ever made. With this – Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots will last in our memories forever. Congratulations, you deserve every single increment of that 10/10.