Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots Review
Metal Gear Solid 4 is an awe-inspiring synthesis of dramatic storytelling and entertaining gameplay.
- A brilliant mixture of storytelling and gameplay
- Mind-blowing audiovisual presentation
- Tight and compelling shooting mechanics
- Gratifying stealth mechanics
- Lots of cool gadgets and weapons that you can tailor to your own style of play.
- Storytelling is heavy-handed
- The single-player experience ends.
Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots is the most technically stunning video game ever made. It's also a fine example of storytelling prowess within its medium, combining gameplay and narrative so slickly and beautifully that it's impossible to extricate one from the other. It's likely you will emerge awestruck from your first play-through, wishing the experience would continue yet nonetheless satisfied with its conclusion. It's difficult not to sound hyperbolic when discussing MGS4 because every part of its design seemingly fulfills its vision, without compromise. There is no halfway.
Fully realized, lengthy story sequences will come as no surprise to anyone who has played a Metal Gear game. You'll spend a good half of MGS4 watching cinematics, but it would be a grave misinterpretation to assume that great gameplay takes a backseat to the story. Rather, these two elements are tightly intertwined, and this tapestry is held together by an important technical thread: Cutscenes that are rendered fully in real time within the game engine. It's impressive enough that these scenes look as good as any prerendered cinematic you've ever watched. It's even more amazing when those same scenes transition without pause into gameplay, and the same hulking mech you watched lumber about in the cinematic is looming above you. The subtle animations, the lush environments, and the rich textures are the same in and out of story sequences, and the effect is so seamless it may take your breath away. You can skip past the scenes if you prefer, but doing so would soften the experience. The story sequences carry more weight because of the intense gameplay that precedes them--and the gameplay feels more compelling because the story gives you powerful reasons to care about your mission. The high point of this fusion occurs in an exciting and memorable split-screen sequence that simply must be experienced.
Talking about what, exactly, is going on in the plot in the midst of MGS4's grand sweeping gestures is to risk spoiling each little surprise as it emerges. Snake, suffering from the rapid onset of aging, now must cope with stiff joints in addition to the looming specter of Liquid Ocelot's newest plans. This is Snake's final hurrah; yet as the story reaches one height after another, the juxtaposition of huge set piece battles and formidable bosses with Snake's deteriorating body creates tension and gravity even beyond the series' usual pretensions. Some new plot strands emerge while others get tied up, and old friends (and enemies) refuse to be forgotten. You'll also bear witness to a few reunions--some bloody, some teary, and some legitimately shocking. Parts of it are overblown, to be sure. The musical score gets heavy-handed and the voice acting and writing are frequently dogmatic, so while there are plenty of subtle moments, subtlety isn't really MGS4's strong suit. But it doesn't need to be. After all, the fate of the world hangs in the balance, and judging from a few silly attempts at humor that don't work, developer Kojima Productions was wise to err on the side of melodrama.
The gameplay proper is familiar to fans, but it's been cleaned up and expanded, holding as many twists and surprises as the story. For starters, both gunplay and close-quarters combat are more satisfying. Regarding melee, the controls have been streamlined, making it less cumbersome to grab an enemy soldier or perform a stealthy blade kill. Shooting mechanics are even more improved, so much so that shooting your way out of a pickle is just as enjoyable as sneaking around it. There are a huge number of weapons to play with; so many that you'll probably finish the campaign without using many of them. Yet, quality wasn't sacrificed for quantity: Every weapon feels just right, from your handy operator sidearm (best when upgraded with a silencer) and standard issue assault rifles to a powerful railgun. The standard over-the-shoulder view is fine for the most part, but you can gaze down the sights from a first-person perspective. Both views can be further improved with various enhancements, such as laser sights and scopes.
Not that you don't have all the tools for completely avoiding your enemies if you choose that route. Snake's got the basics covered: crawling, hugging walls, peeking around corners, and hanging from ledges, for example. Cover mechanics are tighter than ever, so you can crouch and take potshots from behind cover with ease. There are also a number of important gadgets that will make your life easier in this regard. The most obvious of these is your OctoCamo suit, which takes on the texture of your surroundings when you're prone or pressed against cover. Not only does this make it simpler to avoid watchful eyes, but it's also a cool visual effect. Eventually, you'll be able to camouflage Snake's head, and a few of the available camo options are bound to stir some fans' nostalgia. The Solid Eye is your other major tool, as it expands your compass into a sonic-sensitive radar and allows you to use night vision and a tactical first-person view. These are helpful gadgets indeed, even during boss fights, like a stirring encounter in a blinding blizzard.
Other gadgets, such as portable hiding places (cardboard boxes and rusty barrels) and the Metal Gear Mk. II (a stealthed robot that you can command as a scouting device), are useful to anyone who prefers the sneaky approach. Not every gadget is a welcome addition, though. For example, the much-ballyhooed iPod is a neat touch, but to use it, you cannot have another gadget equipped, so you'll quickly forget the option even exists. But aside from these nitpicks, one of the things that makes the core gameplay so enjoyable is that you're rarely strapped into a single style of play. Shooting your way through requires more thought and care than you'd put into a standard action game, but you never feel as though the gun mechanics are stuffed uncomfortably into a stealth game. If you'd rather sneak, you never have the impression that stealth was shoehorned into a game that's meant to be played as a shooter. Sure, you're Solid Snake--you're not supposed to get caught. But if you're stuck in a jam, breaking stealth isn't a death sentence, and in fact, facing certain enemies head-on is often a heart-pounding, challenging experience. The few levels that do force you into one style, such as one in which you shadow your target through an Eastern European city, are still great, if not quite as impactful.
You'll need to keep an eye on Snake's stress levels and psyche. Though these aspects are more peripheral than health levels, they fit nicely within the plot. When Snake gets stressed (if he gets cold or encumbered, for example), his psyche gauge starts to deplete. The lower the gauge, the slower you will move and the less quickly you replenish health. Generally speaking, the psyche meter is rarely a factor, and should you notice Snake groaning a bit more, there are items like compresses you can use for a pick-me-up. Should the meter get too low, you won't be able to hold up your weapon or rush for cover. This doesn't happen often though, and while you'll need to keep a close eye on your health for obvious reasons, you won't need to pay too much heed to psyche.
Awesome review Kevin!
My shortened review, focused on the main aspects I agree/disagree with Kevin:
The gameplay is vastly improved from previous games in the series, particularly the camera positioning, the control of Snake's movement and actions, which are more intuitive and tight, and the camouflage. This allows the player to spend less time and attention on figuring out which button to press or where are the enemies and more on figuring out the best strategy and approach to overcome each situation. But there are still a few things that were left untouched from previous games in the series, like the awkward jump forward.
On the whole, the campaign strikes a perfect balance between stealth and action gameplay, because some levels are big and intricate enough to make either approach possible, giving you the freedom to choose how to overcome each situation, while others are focused on stealth and finding the right path, which are compensated by the action focused sequences.
Boss battles are inventive, exciting and memorable, but less threatening than what they could've been, because of how easy it is to accumulate a big number of Drebin points.
The cut scenes are skillfully realized and rarely fail to be engaging to watch. On the other hand, they are as frequent and indulgent as before and most of them are longer than necessary, which hurts the pace of the game. Great writing, although often dogmatic, excellent voice acting, first-class camera work and intense action sequences, all fit together very well.
The narrative is more captivating and interconnected with playable sequences than in previous games in the series. Unfortunately, if you're not familiar with the previous games' storyline, unless you spend a few hours of your time doing a boring research on them (or, if you have a tremendous amount of time to kill, watching all the cut scenes of those games on YouTube), you'll most likely find MGS4's story to be confusing and forgettable, because the entire plot is too complex and bizarre for its own good, with many implausible twists and loads of important characters and sub-plots, in my humble opinion.
The gameplay and the cut scenes wouldn't work so well if it wasn't for the extraordinary sound design and the technical masterpiece that is the game engine.
Guns of the Patriots is not only the best, most accessible and captivating game in the series but also probably the best and most memorable Modern Action Adventure game ever made. It literally leaves you anxious to know what the game will ask you to do next, or who will be the following boss, or what will be the fate of Snake and his companions, until it finally ends... and then you'll probably want to beat it again... and again.
MGS2 and Snake Eater were better than this game. this game has more guns, and smoother gameplay than MGS2 and 3, but the last 2 levels of MGS4 are a disappointment, especially the level from MGS1 with the robot enemies instead of humans. Play this only if you have finished MGS3 and MGS2.
@fluffy_puppy666 I dunno, maybe it's because they've never released a Metal Gear Solid game for PC. Seems it's going to continue being console-exclusive too. Sorry that you have to miss out on an amazing franchise, but there's more computer-exclusive games than console-exclusives actually, though most are indie titles.
@daviz88 No game is 'flawless' but that doesn't mean games don't deserve tens. You should know how scores work. Just because a game gets a ten doesn't mean the game is without flaw, but when it comes to a ten, it means that the critics thought that the flaws were so minuscule they're very easy to look past, almost as if it weren't a problem.
@daviz88 dats wat i said,
I love this game. I am new to the ps3 and only owned 360's and i have played 12 hours of it none stop and I'm jus amazed how awsome this game is, dont wanna sleep just wanna carry on... epic.
But I have to admit the game starts off not that appealing, then after around 2 or so hours of gaming it just explodes into a perfect game in my eyes.
Even tho I'm no fan boy of any game I did get massive nostalgia when you play the MGS 1 part in the game, always played the MGS games but I just cant deny this game its amazing. Lots hate the long cut seens but I didnt mind em at all cos its such a brilliant storyline.
@LukeWesty Well it's like a great movie (which it obviously tried to achieve a feeling of with the cutscenes), it might start out slow, but you know it's only going to get better. Much better. And then the anticipation of what's to come makes the beginning all the more awesome.
@daviz88 Name one
@mazardeus @daviz88 Where should I start? From the constant loading times, to the ridiculous rinse & repear boss battles, and needless filler dialogue which only serves to fill space. And how about that ending, if you can call it that. The game could have ended just a little beyond the Ocelot fight, but no, it had to go on for 5 or 6 more cut-scenes, I can't even remember and I finished it today! Then that last scene after the credits, obviously thought up at the last second, Kojima decides to bring back "big boss." And that goes on for at least another 15 minutes, ridiculous! I've loved the last 3 games, but this game made me sick!
This game can't have 10/10 because the main character has moustache.
I hate the very idea of playing as someone who has moustache.
MGS4 is the best video game ever made, if you even want to call it that. I tell you all now, no video game will ever match this masterpiece, let alone surpass it. The graphics are superb. The game play is phenomenal. A perfect mix of stealth/action, and dare I say, some of the best action in a game ever. From fighting robotic nanomachines with Rat Patrol to very enjoyable boss battles; from manning a heavy machine gun on a tank driving through enemy forces to riding on the back of a motorbike with a sub machine gun; from some of the greatest stealth action ever to having a mech on mech in game battle with gatling guns, missles and all; from in game hand to hand combat to an epic finale kickboxing style battle with your twin brother. In summary of MSG4 Gameplay, it has managed to take the best features of the best games and combine them all into one.
Now for the story. Why I said above if you even want to call MGS4 a video game is because the story evolves so compellingly and is so innovating that it makes you feel like you are IN a movie. Making a game feel like a movie is one thing, but MGS4 not only feels like a mere movie, but also like one of the finest top end films ever created. It's the finest accomplishment any video game could ever have. Not to mention it feels even more epic that it should due to the immense tie-in with previous MGS games.
I said no video game will ever top, or even match, MGS4 and it never will. Even the developers/creators themselves will fail. MGS4 is a miracle of God and feels like something unseen touched it, for such perfection is impossible. Graphically, future games will obviously better MGS4 due to advances in technology, etc. But in terms of gameplay, story, the way everything comes together nothing can ever beat it.
I don't know if this is the best example, but imagine the Star Wars movie. The original 3 were amazing in their own right. The more recent Star Wars were better technologically, but in other aspects and overall, the original Star Wars movies were much better. MGS4 will be exactly the same. Nothing, past, present or future will better this game overall. Graphically is the only improvement that can be made by man or machine.
I consider myself extremely lucky to have experienced the sheer brilliance of MGS4. You cannot consider to have ever played video games properly if you have never fully lived through MGS4. For those who found something wrong with it, I urge you to go back and give it another shot. An experience like this will never be experience-able again in anyone's lifetime.
one of the best games ever made, completely deserves 10/10, this game is master piece and hideo kojima is a God! Hideo kojima is a God making games... Every time he makes a game the game come out almost a masterpiece or a masterpiece, Hideo kojima team is one of the best desenveloper teams out there in videogames... This game is great who says otherwise is just a hater...
A 10/10? No way, there are other games that have received a 9/10 and 9.5/10 yet they dont come close the absolute quality of this masterpiece. If anything this game deserves a 12/10, just pure bliss.
@RustedTruck650 Agreed, there is no other game that even comes close to this one. In fact I'm on my way to buy it again and I already have a copy.
This game isnt very good 3 hours in. Its a stealth game so they give you a million guns, cant peek around corners and you just happen to have a box and a barrel in your pocket. The AI takes forever to react to you. On top of that you have a robot that warps your extra guns for cash. I expected more from a next gen MGS.
Why cant snake play like the socom on the ps2. Thats stealth. To think I just bought a ps3 for this. At least Uncharted, GOW, and Heavy Rain made up for it.
This is not a 10 game
@PicklePuffer uncharted, GOW, and heavy Rain are all okay. MGS4 may be the worst Metal gear Solid, but it still beats all the games you named. Uncharted and Heavy Rain better than Metal gear? I mean WOW! Do you hear yourself?
@PicklePuffer you're right. It's an 11/10. By far the greatest game I have played this generation. Maybe even ever.
Name one game where the toons in them don't carry large amounts of stuff that is consider humanly impossible. Don't worry I'll wait.
@Ceocold HA funny! Call of duty is pretty accurate even down to the ammo capacity, halo. Comparing 3rd person games, uncharted, alan wake.. Sure rpg type games will let you collect a bunch of junk but a stealth game shouldnt to this degree, Come on a box and barrel.. cheesy.
Well keep in mind you are still playing a video game.
Besides, you can only hold up to 8 weapons at a time. The game pretty much lets you choose what you want to have in your arsenal. That's a nice variety. Each gun can also have a suppressor attached to it.
Plus the box and barrel stuff is included because that's stuff that's always been in MGS games. You don't even have to use them, let alone have them in your inventory. So why are you complaining about them? I rarely used them, but they are fun to mess around with.
I think it's a bit boring that more games are restricting players to two weapons and grenades.
Also, for comparison sake, look at a stealth game like Splinter Cell: Conviction. You have access to a wide array of weapons there, but none of the assault rifles/machine guns/shotgun can be equipped with suppressors. In comparison Metal Gear Solid 4 is a much better stealth game than Splinter Cell: Conviction.
Overall, MGS4 gives you a lot of options on how you can play the game.
@PicklePuffer Nah, you should play it again and give it another opinion. Hint: The game deserves a 10/10
This is Skulls. Do you read me, Sony? "Loud & clear. What's the situation?" Looks like the online service is gone now & there are these...weird shiny things that appear in the top right corner of the screen! What the hell!? "Looks like your going to have to repeat this entire mission, Skulls." DAMN!!!
@JXJXJF "This exceedingly rare score refers to a game that is as perfect as a game can aspire to be at its time of release. Obviously, the constantly changing standards for technology and gameplay will probably make this game obsolete some day, but at its time of release, a game earning this score could not have been improved upon in any meaningful way."
As always, with any site you go to, a perfect score doesn't mean it's a perfect game. It doesn't imply that it has no flaws, it just means it's as good as a game could possibly be at the time of reviewing it.
@JXJXJF lol your silly, no game is flawless, 10/10 simply means all the awesome content outweighs any of the cons. Any flaws are so insignificant that they do don't affect the overall experience. Learn how review systems work (though I don't really think this game is a 10, I liked MGS3 more, that's besides the point though...).
@pal_080 It's a shame you don't really know what you're saying. The idea that your enjoyment of MGS3 means that this game wouldn't earn a ten is exactly why, if you were to give this game a ten anyway, every score you had given a game ever would lose its meaning. Or, in other words, if the existence of a better game means that one game should not earn a ten, a ten out of ten implies no flaws, and giving a flawed game a ten invalidates the entire system. Instead of being a number that means something, the rating becomes more of an expression at the time...just something you thought up in the heat of the moment.
Which, arguably, is fine--and even unavoidable. I was just making a passing comment. I'm not that concerned.
You should not call people silly, though, before thinking things through. It's rude.
PS. I agree. No game is flawless. Perfect games do not exist and perfect ratings should not exist.
@JXJXJF @pal_080 If a perfect game does not exist and a perfect score should not exist, surely that renders ANY rating system useless? A rating system, by definition, grades something on a scale of worst to best. If no game deserves a 10/10, then 9/10 suddenly becomes the top score. Therefore, 9/10 would imply the game is "perfect" by your definition. In fact, 9/10 would then become 9/9 since it is impossible to achieve anything higher.
In school, A* is considered the highest grade achievable. Surely you'd agree that no essay, however well written and researched, could ever be classed as perfect, particularly at high-school level. Yet A* grades are still given out to students who have achieved something special in their subject.
A*, 10/10 and 100% ratings represent something that is of the highest quality. It represents an experience that is unlike no other and is above the rest. That does not mean the piece is flawless, and it also does not mean that the piece is without peers. Several students in a class can produce a paper worthy of an A* grade, and several games in a generation can receive a 10/10 score.
Metal Gear Solid 4 is a game that, on first play through and with a knowledge of the previous titles in the series, evokes a response that no other game can offer. It is a similar experience to the finale of the Sopranos, or the ending of the Lord of the Rings novels. It's the perfect pay-off to an epic saga and gives you a one-time feeling that is unique to that exact moment in time and can never be replicated. Metal Gear Solid 4 is one of the greatest gaming achievements of this generation and, in this reviewers opinion (and my own), is the pinnacle of what the current consoles and technology can achieve. Hence, 10/10. Not everyone will feel the same way about this game, but a review and a score should be personal to the reviewer. This review does indeed acknowledge flaws in the game, however the having read the entire piece, the author is entirely entitled to grace this masterpiece with a 10/10 score.
- Player Reviews: 1,893
- Game Universe:
- Metal Gear Solid (PS, PC, GBC),
- Metal Gear Solid 2: Substance (PC, XBOX, PS2),
- Metal Gear (C64, MSX, NES, MOBILE, PC),
- Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance (X360, PS3, PC),
- Metal Gear Solid HD Collection (VITA, PS3, X360),
- Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker HD Edition (PS3, X360),
- Metal Gear Solid: Snake Eater 3D (3DS),
- Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker (PSP),
- Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots (PS3),
- Metal Gear Solid: The Essential Collection (PS2)
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