The rare game that is an amazing technical, cinematic experience that is also a pretentious look into one man's ego.
Elite29 wrote this review on .
If that statment means nothing to you, then you haven't played the previous games in this series or have been living under a rock for the last 20 yrs. But with that ONE statement, you are also (in the same breath) describing this type of game. When it comes to a Hideo Kojima game, there are always the "good" & "bad" when it comes to game development. Make no mistake, 'MGS4' is a pretentious, overblown game that (like in film) needs a good editor. This is Kojima's "throw everything at the wall and see what sticks" ending to a legendary character (Solid Snake) of videogames. And with that philosophy, comes the peaks and valleys of game development. While 'MGS4' is the most technically impressive & cinematic game I have ever played, it is flawed in it's storytelling. The gameplay is here, in spades (including some excellent boss battles), but those who have never played a game in this series should stay away until they complete the previous iterations. Thankfully, like every other game in the series (that I have played), the great outweighs the bad to a point that you really don't care.
'MGS4' is a direct sequel to the PS2 classic 'Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons Of Liberty'. After playing through that game, I was dealing with the problem of seperating how I felt about how legendary the original game ('Metal Gear Solid') was and the fact that I was now playing a game that just wasn't as good. 'MGS' was an absolutely amazing game that changed the way we play games today. It had a very complex & deep plot, but it never went too far out there so gamers didn't start to get confused with what was going on. It had so many great characters and was one of the most revolutionary games of all time, in terms of story & gameplay. With 'MGS2', I felt the storyline got too caught up in twists, turns, and convolution that it ended up being a big mess. While 'MGS2' was given rave reviews, and thought to be one of the best games of the PS2 generation, I felt it was over-rated and had a storyline more convoluted and ridiculous than 'The Matrix' film sequels. The gameplay was still great, but having the whiny "Raiden" as the main character along with the storyline turned me off.
In my opinion, 'MGS4', falls somewhere between the excellent first game and the suspect second title. In terms of presentation, 'MGS4' has no equal. The cut-scence are LONG and amazing. This is not a game for everyone. If you don't like long cut-scenes, don't bother with this game. The in-game graphics are equally impressive. Add in some top-notch music & voice acting and you have the best presentation I have ever seen in a game. When you factor in Kojima's knack for the dramatic cinematic, you have a game that will definately wow people beyond belief. This game makes full use of the PS3 hardware and actually used up all of the Blu-Ray disc space that it had available to it.
While some complain that this game focuses too much on action, I think the gameplay is still great. To be honest, not a lot has changed since the excellent 'Metal Gear Solid', but it didn't have to. Every new game has added some subtle additions to the fold, but the core gameplay still remains. I haven't played a 'MGS' since 'MGS2' came out and I felt right at home with the controls and overall gameplay. Stealth gameplay still reigns supreme here, as if you try to play this game as a "run-and-gun" shooter, you will get destroyed. And even though the gameplay is essentially, 20 yrs. old, it is still fun to try to sneak through a group of enemies un-noticed. Thankfully, one of the new additions to the game, the 'Octo-Suit', make this task a bit easier. It automatically camaflages you to the type of surface you are on or are leaning up against.
So while the gameplay remains great and the presentation elements are the best I have seen, it's in the story that I get frustrated. The overall story of the 'Metal Gear' series would be similar to a man with a huge vision for many movies. He makes three great movies, but really doesn't know when to quit. But since those first three movies were so good, he has the means to continue his story. The problem is that his vision for this story becomes so complex and convloluted (there is that word again) that it starts to fall apart at the seams toward the end. Unfortunately, that is where I feel Hideki Kojima is at this point in the 'MGS' series.
The first three games in the 'Metal Gear' series (told interesting, but complex storylines. The last two (not counting 'MGS3: Snake Eater', as that was a prequel) are over-complex and drawn out to a point of where I wonder what the hell is going on half the time. The list of characters has grown out of control and trying to keep up with all the plot twists is dizzying. Not too mention, apparently Kojima has nobody telling him what to do about anything. Because why would someone let him put in some of the most embarrassingly dramatic cut-scenes in the history of videogames? There were several times while playing this game & watching (what was supposed to be) a dramatic cinematic between two characters that I was actually shaking my head at how bad the dialogue & overall "feel" of the scene was. There is one, in particular, at the end of the 4th chapter involving Naomi and Otocon, where I was just shaking my head at how bad it was.
Don't get me wrong, most of the scenes are outstanding. But it's those few that aren't that stick out in a game like this. Even the ending, clocking in at around an hour, has it's moments of "WTF?". While the gorgeous visuals and excellent audio will have you watching these scenes anyways, the script sometimes betrays these qualities with laughable dialogue.
In the end, 'MGS4' is a pinnacle achievement in the way of presentation, graphics, and audio. If you liked the gameplay from the series before, you will probably like it here. The storyline, while being convoluted & confusing at times, it still interesting enough to keep you going. Make no mistake, this is a great game. It's just stuck with Hideki Kojima's ego along for the ride. Hopefully, if you play this game, you can see through all the over-bloated cut-scenes and find the great game underneath.