Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots - Review

Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots, PS3 - £29.99 delivered

Review by Amitai Winehouse

From the off, I want to confirm one thing about myself and my relationship with the Metal Gear Solid series. For some, it is an abusive relationship, in which one partner seems to be nothing but schizophrenic, changing his whim and direction of the game when it suits him. On the other hand, there are those such as me, who take even the very worst with boyish glee, pushing aside the very little we find bad, and savouring the best like the last few inches of a Bacon Sandwich.

I can however see why some may not like Metal Gear Solid. After all, some people do not like balloons, fluffy toys and anything else worth smiling about. Typing away at their computers (yes, I do realise the hypocrisy), they try to confine things to unwritten rules and laws, in this case, video games. Many of those detractors seem to focus on the fact that Metal Gear Solid 4 (and the entire series in reality) is very heavy on sections when you are not allowed to play the game. But the truth is, those who looked forward to MGS4 would in reality be disappointed if we were not told to "Live, Snake" at least once. The games would really only be half the games they are if it wasn't for these long movie like sections. Kojima has always taken the stance that video games are art, and this is his way of expressing it, through additional story development.

The gameplay itself is very good. However, I'm going to have to take off my fanboy cap at least once, and look at this objectively. The thing which we fans were most excited about (being in a dynamically changing battlefield) is only present for the first 2 of 5 areas in the game. Even though there are sections which are incredibly innovative and are nice touches (the following of a resistance member through Europe being one of them), much of it is the "same old, same old" with the omnipresent vehicle, sneaking, and gunning segments being involved. Sometimes you can still wish for a game to be slightly innovative.

The game is also beautiful. I mean, the surroundings are nice, the characters look realistic (and so does nearly everything else), and there are some serious "Whoa" moments when the game transitions from cut scene to in game. Rather than fading to black, occasionally, the camera will merely move behind Snake, and honestly, the in-game engine makes the game and cutscenes look beautiful enough to be CGI movies rather than video games. However, the abuse of brown is something I wish would stop in video gaming. I mean seriously, since when did everything have to be so dank and depressing. Windwaker is an example of a game using art to make a game better. I'm not suggesting Metal Gear Solid become a Cartoon game, but it is ridiculous that the only green in the game comes from a 30 minute long section. Other colours are totally removed from this world. Even MGS3 had a nicer pallete of colour, and I wish Kojima had not decided to go with the rest of the gaming world and sacrifice some beauty for 'realism'.

The story is really Metal Gear Solid personified. I'm not going to say too much in order to avoid spoilers for those of you who haven't yet played it, but there is enough good fan service in this game to make anyone happy. This may however eliminated newer fans of the series, which may not be good considering this is the game that is meant to sell Playstation 3s. The game does a fairly good job of containing things however, and despite referencing the other games in the series, one could get away with going in totally blind (as discovered when asking friends about the game, who loved it). There are also several twists, including one that honestly shocked me beyond all belief.

In reality, I was never not going to love this game. I'd rate this up there with some of my favourite movies, and I'd say that this is without a doubt the best video game I've ever played. People may point to things such as GTA IV for being so tremendously huge, or Mass Effect for taking literally a lifetime to come near completion, but MGS4 is the best experience I've ever had with a video game.

Plus a single line in the game made me start crying.

I am not going to attach a number to this, but would recommend it to anyone. If I hadn't of owned a PS3 before this, I would have been glad to pay the full price of the console for this game alone. Go and pick it up. I know I'll be buying Metal Gear Solid 4: Subsandwich.

Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots, PS3 - £29.99 delivered