MGS4 is an astonishing multilayered experience unlike any other.
Great graphics, amazing sound, beautiful music, addictive game play, innovative stealth mechanics, through the roof production values, Hollywood level cutscene direction complete with the latest shaky camera techniques, state of the art motion captured animations, quality VA, all these are part of the MGS4 package but what really makes the game the experience that is is, is the story and the way it ties and concludes this behemoth saga.
At its surface, the game tells/continues the story/rivalry of two brothers (Solid and Liquid), one good and one bad. In MGS4's universe, nanotechnology is fully mastered and the world is run by a shadow organization called "The Patriots". This is basically the stage where the play takes place, literally ;) The story takes you to 5 distinct locations throughout the game, each representing a different stage in Liquid's world domination plan. I'm not gonna go into specifics as i really wanna keep this mini-review as spoiler free as possible, but i'll only say this: !prepare! as you'll be in for quite a ride, both epic and lyric.
There are action sequences that will literally leave you breathless and sweating, there are over the top sequences that will leave you with a big smile on your face and thinking out loud "ok, now i've seen everything", and there are dramatic moments that will leave you with misty eyes even if you are a bold tattooed bad ass gangsta's cousin. The game plays with the gamer's emotions by going from humouristic and cheesy to profound and dramatic in the blink of an eye, always keeping the distinct charm present throughout the game and series.
There is no other story focused game on the market comparable to the level of professionalism displayed in the MGS4's story sequences. Every shot, every zoom, every focus shift, everything is motion picture level and the fact that they are rendered on the fly by the PS3 is even more mind blowing. I am a videographer myself and in all honesty MGS4's cutscenes could easily be the subject of study at the Film School, they're "that" good. The story itself is very elaborate and succeeds in effectively creating believable characters and motivations. The phychology is very deep and deals with a lot of different situations and profoundly humane character reactions when faced with the given contexts. There's heavy emphasis on exposition, in the classic manga/Kojima style, but in the end, all the more rewarding. As with all truly great stories, there are things you are told and things you are left to discover for yourself. There are always pieces of the puzzle scattered throughout the game whether they are in the form of a word or simply a look which can change the meaning of an entire scene. There are many layers of depth in both main story and sub plots as well as many brilliantly interlaced themes and anti war messages that really make you ponder on the futility of it all when related to the real life we live in.
Underneath it all, it is ultimatelly a pondering on the very things that make us human, with all the good and all the bad. "Life is something to be treasured" and it is never too late to take a step back and look at what our true values should be.
So, almost everything about MGS4 is mind blowing, whether we are talking about its story, gameplay, boss fights or technical achievements, this one is for the history books. I said "almost" 'cose there are some issues, like the individual chapter installations, some stiff animations here and there, lack of movie theater and boss rush, and some other stuff that ultimately should really not bother anyone as they do not affect the core experience all that much if at all.
Very few stories ever achieved it but with MGS4, Solid Snake's saga comes to an end in full glory. It is the "ultimate" Metal Gear Solid experience !