|Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots|
|Developer: Kojima Productions
Release Date: Out Now
Players: 1 or 1-16 (Online)
So here we are, the final epic conclusion to one of the most talked-about series in recent video game history. A PS3 saviour or a miserable failure? MGS4 certainly has a lot to live up to and like the main man himself, despite having a few unsightly wrinkles it mostly succeeds.
Firstly if you’ve neglected to play the earlier titles you’ll probably struggle with the complex story and huge set of returning characters – heck, even if you’re an MGS aficionado you’ll find it difficult to keep up with the plot... but you knew that, right? The game picks up a few years after MGS2 and sees an aged Snake being pulled out of retirement yet again to stop his blood brother Liquid from messing with some sort of nano technology which could bring about the end of the world. Mix this with some pretentious symbolism and techno babble and you know this is definitely standard MGS territory.
A rather lengthy install precedes the first section (and every new act) of the game, which sees Snake in a totally alien environment to what we’re used to. For one thing the grey/green tinge of old is nowhere to be seen. What we’re given is the bright and dusty Middle-Eastern location that you’ve no doubt seen in the trailers. Later on you’ll venture further afield and the environments seem like they were designed to be a greatest hits compilation i.e. all the best bits from the earlier games, which is no bad thing.
When you do actually get the chance to control the action (yes, those cutscene length rumours were correct) you can see that there have been a number of significant changes to the gameplay. The most important and undoubtedly essential change has been with the control system.
Gadgets are a given with the MGS series and there are some really inventive offerings in MGS4 including an Apple I-Pod. My favourite though is undoubtedly the OctoCamo, which is introduced at the beginning of the game. Building on Snake Eater’s camouflage system this is the user-friendly sneaking suit given to you by series favourite Otacon. Press Snake up against any of the game’s surfaces and his clothing will automatically change to mirror this. It’s great fun watching a guard walk straight past you whilst you lie on the floor, ready to take him out the moment his back is turned.
Throughout MGS4’s five acts you’ll be treated to the odd undeniably flashy set piece, including some thrilling on-rail chases. It’s a shame there aren’t more of these really, but the few you do control make up somewhat for the limited game interaction at times. The enemies you’ll face are incredibly well thought out and whilst never quite being as much fun as “The End” from MGS3, they still manage to throw up a few surprises when you least suspect them, forcing players to adopt different tactics.
To sum up Snake’s exit is honestly more then we could’ve hoped for. It’s certainly what Sony needed for the PS3 and the constant nods and cheeky references to earlier games will appease the hardcore fans who have been waiting for so long –and that’s ultimately who this game was made for. Like the previous titles, it’s bound to split gamers in half and cause many a debate over its ‘merits’ but that just goes to prove how important the series is to people.
Sayonara Snake, we’ll miss you.
- Gorgeous graphics and sublime sound
- A complex and compelling storyline
- Varying ways to play the game
- Needlessly fiddly control scheme
- Overlong cutscenes
- Not one to convert non-fans