Metal Gear has a special place in the hearts of many gamers. For over 20 years Kojima has kept it in the same genre and somehow every game still feels fresh, tense and pretty damn memorable. I've played through MGS4 15 times, and tried numerous gameplay possibilities. How does the final chapter in the series stack up against its legendary predecessors?
I've never even played a stealth game before I bought MGS4 because of the hype. All I can say is that it surpassed all my expectations. The possibilities are just staggering when compared to previous games. There are FIVE difficulty levels to choose from so that any type of gamer can enjoy the game. There are dozens upon dozens of weapons to try, and if you're the stealthy type, the new gadgets such as Solid Eye and MK II/III really diversify your tactics. The level design is now more open than ever, with multiple ways to tackle objectives. You can even choose to side with local militia in the game's first two acts. Of course, you can still take the path of the lone wolf if you so wish to.
MGS4 is definitely a good-looking game, although there are murky textures here and there. The cutscenes, though long, are well-made and enjoyable; they're not as tiring as they seem. Overall, the production values are to be commended; this is a big-budget game and it shows.
The bad news may be that the story is too complex (the casual fan will definitely have trouble catching up with the story; I recommend downloading the Metal Gear Solid Database on PS3), but you have to commend Hideo Kojima for all the effort and the sheer scale of it all (unbelievable as it may seem, he managed to tie up a 20-year series' worth of loose ends in one single game). Another thing is Metal Gear Online is now offline. You'll have to buy The Phantom Pain for some online MGS action.
I can go on and on but this review would be too long; MGS4 is a big game (almost 20 hours, with multiple approaches to try and lots of easter eggs) with a lot of improvements over its predecessors. It's got the most accessible gameplay so far with added freedom to boot. Kojima crams in too much story, and the old MGO is no more. MGS4 is an essential purchase to those who have the means to play it. If you're not one of them, maybe it's time to catch up on one of the greatest games of all time.