PS3 Review: Metal Gear Solid 4 – Guns of the Patriots

Old Snake bids farewell in his greatest mission ever

Concluding Hideo Kojima’s stunning Metal Gear Solid saga, Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots is set in a battle-scarred future where huge conglomerates fight for supremacy using armies of hand-picked mercenaries. The devastated world of Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots is seen through the battle-weary eyes of an older Solid Snake who has been charged with infiltrating a number of key locations across the globe, including the Middle East and South America. As such, Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots will be an epic end to Snake’s story, offering ground-breaking combat elements and a refined control system that offers unprecedented control over the aged hero. Compellingly, Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots will also tie up all the key plot lines and loose ends of the Metal Gear Solid saga.

Chances are that by now you’ve seen most MGS 4 reviews, some are near perfect at 10 while others are less gracious and gave them somewhere in the area of 8-9, which is still high but for a game of this magnitude, one can’t help thinking that it’s more of an insult to what could be the biggest game of all time. Hideo Kojima more or less created the stealth genre, and without Metal Gear there would probably not be a Hitman or a Splinter Cell, Kojima has worked wonders with the franchise and pulls off a compelling and dignified way to end the saga of Solid Snake.

I only became a Metal Gear fan a few years back when I played The Twin Snakes on the GameCube, but after that I picked up each following game and thoroughly enjoyed each one. MGS 2 was perhaps the lowest point for the series but MGS 4 manages to put all that into perspective, both in terms of story and explanations for the complex plot twists that had many of us scratching our heads. Of course, any other MGS fan would have seen at least one of the many trailers in its years of development, but you’ll be surprised how much of a red herring a lot of it is, you’ll go to locations not seen and you’ll face shocking conclusions that will light up the face of any MGS fan.

The gameplay of MGS 4 hasn’t changed all that much from past games, although the controls are a lot more refined and of course, you now have full control of the camera. The biggest change comes in the form of OctoCamo, essentially Snake’s suit moulds to what he lies on so he can blend in. Despite being Old Snake, he is still very flexible but you’ll need to maintain stress and psyche meters that make his performance slip.

What makes the game so great is that it allows you to play it in a number of different ways. You can blast your way through or go for the stealth approach. I can tell you that the latter will give you certain goodies for the second playthrough if you meet certain standards, and believe me it’s worth it. You can also do a large portion of the game in FPS mode, but only if you choose to. Personally, I prefer the sneaking approach but a bit of killing is always nice.

You’ll also have the Metal Gear MK 2 to drive around and shock people, but I rarely used it. Fights between rebels and PMC’s (Private Military Companies) are nice to participate in and if you fight one side as opposed to the other, then the other side will not attack you and be generally grateful to you, but try shooting them too and you’ll be shot straight back at. There’s also the Drebin System, which allows you to buy weapons and ammo at will from the main menu for points that you collect by doing various things, like collecting weapons that you already have for points or for destroying unmanned machines, there are other ways of collecting DP that I will leave you to find for yourselves, but it’s definitely worth it. There are a large variety of weapons and each handles differently, so you can find the right assault rifle or machine gun to your liking instead of settling for one you hate.

Depending on the difficulty and the way you play, the game can take anywhere from 12-20 hours to do with about 8 hours of cutscenes and codec sequences. I can’t tell if that’s a definite estimate, but it would be safe to assume so. You’ll come across characters old and new and by the end, each little question that MGS fans have pondered will be answered. I had a few questions that I hoped would be resolved in MGS 4, sufficed to say that they certainly were and the game did it in a way that I never expected, but not in a disappointing way…more of a shocking, yet amazing one.

Simply put, MGS 4 looks astonishing and is definitely the best looking PS3 game in my opinion. You might grumble about an odd texture here or the glass shattering effect, but all that’s irrelevant. MGS has always been about the story and it just looks amazing throughout. The disappointment comes in the form of install times; it seems that the game was far too big to fit on one side of the Blu-Ray Disc and instead is Dual-Layered, meaning that after each of the 5 acts…an install is required, even after a first playthrough. The install times can vary between 1-10 mins, but it can give you a nice break from the intenseness of MGS 4.

MGS has been most memorable for its boss fights, my favourites being against Psycho Mantis and The Boss, while the bosses in MGS 4 aren’t as groundbreaking as them, each are named after a past enemy in the original Metal Gear Solid, so you’ll certainly be facing something memorable along the way of each. Then of course, there’s the other boss fights against some of the other foes, let me tell you that you will simply love what Kojima has done here, you’ll be wondering how to kill someone who is apparently immortal and have to figure it out for yourself.

Harry Gregson Williams returns at the helm of the soundtrack and does an amazing job in creating a memorable score throughout the game. The most memorable song for me is Love Theme, which you no doubt have heard from the MGS 4 trailers. Not only that, but of course high kudos must be handed to the voice cast, practically everyone I can remember has returned to their respective roles. David Hayter does an incredible job as the voice of Old Snake, making us remember why we will miss him all the more clearer. On top of the main game, there’s Metal Gear Online to delve into. Sure, you need a Konami ID and a new character (Sorry, Beta players) but it’s damn fun and just adds to what is an incredible package from Kojima and co.

The Verdict

To put it simply, Metal Gear Solid 4 brings the saga of Solid Snake to an end in the greatest way possible, making it all the harder to say goodbye to the old guy. Don’t worry Snake, those other critics may be harsh to your final mission but I won’t. This score is for you and Mr Kojima..I salute you.