Review: Metal Gear Solid 4 (PlayStation 3)
- Release Date (NA): June 12, 2015
- Publisher: Konami
- Developer: Kojima Productions
- Genres: Action-adventure Stealth Cutscene
- ESRB Rating: Mature
Single playerLocal MultiplayerOnline MultiplayerCo-operative
The latest entry (as of 2008!) in Kojima's highly acclaimed movie franchise, Metal Gear Solid!
Metal Gear Solid 4 is the latest entry in Hideo Kojima's acclaimed Metal Gear series. I mean, at least it would be if this was 2008. Having been stuck with only owning a Wii in the last generation of systems, I managed to miss out on playing this game. About 7 years later though, I've managed to finally enjoy the once latest and greatest entry in Kojima's stealth action cinematic adventure series. As a huge Metal Gear fan who's played through every previous chronological entry before, I certainly had high expectations walking into this one and I think Kojima has delivered on everything I'd hoped for and more.
Gameplay-wise, the game starts off strong. You begin the game with a short sequence where you encounter encountering these 'Gekko' robots. "METAL GEAR??" Not quite, this game takes place in the high-tech past (2014) where giant bipedal robots and nanotechnology reigns supreme. The war economy has become the norm and the guns and artillery of yesteryear have been replaced with nanomachine equipped high-tech artillery specifically engineered to maximize battlefield warfare. This isn't your typical Metal Gear and it's clear straight from the intro sequence.
One aspect that I loved about the first two acts in the game was the whole 'living battlefield' concept. It genuinely felt like you were a part of an actual warzone, choosing to either be a passive or active part of the ongoing rebel-government battle. You could sit back and watch as rebels shot and fought their way to victory or you could take part in the battle and help them along the way. All the usual controls and mechanics of previous Metal Gears including CQC and the stealth camo stuff were also there. There were also some cool new mechanics such as the Mk.II robot device and some of the Solid Eye features but really, that was all for naught once you realize that using the tranquilizer gun can get all the same things done but quicker. Still, having those options there were still appreciated.
When it comes to the story, there's a lot to say. From what I remember, the game was heavily lauded when it first came out on both its story and gameplay but in recent years, some have seemed to have soured on the game a bit. Now it's hard to blame people for not falling for a story that relies on a character pretending to be another through self-hypnosis to take over a network that controls nanomachines that his old dying clone is trying to stop all explained by an undead original clone father. I mean, looking back, it barely makes sense to even me. Regardless, as someone who's been an avid fan of the Metal Gear franchise for years, I could handle that convoluted story. The long-winded Beauty and the Beast boss fight explanations fit perfectly for me. And yes, having a cyborg ninja fight a nano-machine made immortal made perfect sense. This was the kind of story that can only appeal to fans used to the intricacy and unique humour that makes Metal Gear, Metal Gear. Of course, show this to an ordinary book and film critic and they'll come out of the game wondering what the fuck they just watched.
Playing Solid Snake as an old dying man was something that I initially hated but quickly warmed up to. After all, why would I want to play as a downtrodden dying old man who has to constantly inject himself just to keep moving. That's no fun. But having played through Metal Gear Solid 1 and 2 and experiencing Solid Snake as that young bad-ass soldier just made it all the more impactful to see him like this and still kicking ass.
A complaint I hear about the game often is the many cutscenes but quite honestly, I hardly noticed them. Sure if we're counting and analyzing the game trying to find out the cutscene to gameplay ratio, there are a lot of cutscenes but really I enjoyed the amount. This is a Metal Gear Solid game and as much as I enjoy actually playing the game, I also enjoy taking in this crazy story. That scene where Ocolet (or should we call him not-so Liquid) took over all the American soldiers' guns was definitely a Metal Gear moment to remember. Johnny trying to grab Mei Ling's ass in one cutscene was such a Metal Gear style moment. And that last scene where Solid Snake puts that gun in his mouth, visibly shakes and sweats leading the camera to pan up where we then hear an audible loud shot was the pinnacle of Metal Gear moments for me. It was that moment when I realized I really loved this game.
Of course, for its revolutionary gameplay. For its touching sentimental story that touches on all the right nostalgic points. For the cinematic experience, that for the PS3 at the time, was really not the norm in videogames, it still made at least one crucial misstep. Sorry Kojima but as much as I love you being the Metal Gear auteur overseeing every aspect of the franchise, you might want to cool things a bit. Even the 'Voice of God' needs an editor sometimes. Big Boss's arrival in that last cutscene was every bit as impactful and shocking as it was supposed to be until he started that long-winded exposition filled explanation that had happened. Those 5 minutes killed the pacing and mood of everything that had happened before. Sometimes Kojima, less is more. We don't need to hear a long explanation of exactly how 0 turns to 100, a succinct simple explanation is often the better one.
Overall though, I think Metal Gear Solid 4 delivered on what I was expecting and then decided to double up on what I was expecting and deliver ten times more. That microwave scene where I was vigorously pressing triangle in an effort to just get Snake through that last hallway was one of the best scenes I've played in a videogame period. The motorcycle scene where I was with EVA that evoked so much of that iconic Metal Gear Solid 3 scene where I was just blasting through baddies trying to protect Big Boss's body, that was a Metal Gear moment for me. And that very last scene where Big Boss, despite all the built-up animosity and history between them, tells Snake that he isn't a danger to anyone anymore and that he can keep on living was such an emotional Metal Gear moment. It's these moments that cemented Metal Gear Solid 4 as not just a top-tier Metal Gear game but a masterpiece of a videogame.
***score dropped from 9.9 to 9.8, fuck you i wrote this review i can change the score if i want
+ Gameplay that improves and innovates over previous Metal Gear Games
+ A story that delivers what was great about the previous games and then 10x more
+ That final stellar boss fight that goes through 4 stages based on each game (SNAAAAAAKE EAAATER!)
- Sometimes Kojima, less is more
As this is a PS3 game, I can't exactly judge the game's on its technical merits too much. Visually it looks great for an early PS3 game. Making it even better are the little touches like the rain drops that appear on the screen when it's wet. In addition, while I wasn't head over heels over the OST, 'Love Theme' worked perfectly at the end.
Metal Gear gameplay brought to its ultimate form. This is Metal Gear as Kojima must have imagined should be possible over a decade ago. This is an MGS game that both provides the mechanics that we enjoyed in the past and elegantly iterates on that to provide a new experience.
While I can't speak for Metal Gear Online anymore as it's been taken down, that is one thing that would have certainly added to this game's 'lasting appeal' at the time of release. And as amazing as the game is the first time, I can imagine that some of the long-winded parts may not appear as great the second time around. Regardless, this is a single player experience and was designed as such so I can't knock it for not really having replay value.
out of 10
(not an average)