There simply is no excuse to ignore this modern classic. Buy it now
How bizarre would the world of video games be without the Metal Gear Solid series? It is a real wonder because each game in the series has been able to reinvent the wheel in some way. Whether it be how the original game itself was able to re-introduce the stealth genre of games to the masses or prove the Playstation truly was capable of producing cinematic at Hollywood qualities.
The fact that simply tapping against a wall would be able to draw in a group of genetically enhanced soldiers. The ability to use the codec system to randomly call up your superiors for information and occasional conversations. Or the blown out pseudo sci-fi reality that delves into the realms of the real with it's often taboo and thought provoking topics ranging from war and nuclear threat to general conspiracy theories and paranoia.
We've all grown to love the oddball moments that Hideo Kojima has ingeniously screwed our minds by including like the infamous controller switching sections of the Psycho Mantis fight in Metal Gear Solid 1. And who could forget the controversial addition of Raiden in Metal Gear Solid 2? Who was actually the protagonist of the game all along, despite prior trailers misleading us otherwise. Kojima also did a solid job (pun not intended) making us wonder if Metal Gear Solid 3 truly had us playing as Big Boss or not, during it's development.
So it's all so surreal that this epic series comes to a close, finally after ten years, with Metal Gear Solid 4. And it doesn't come without it's own fair share of odd original quirkiness to hold itself up. Many might still even remember the controversial change of Snake himself going from young to old, aging more rapidly than Kurt Russell over the past twenty years (and yes, I am aware they based Snake on one of Russell's characters anyway).
Anyway, Metal Gear Solid 4 takes place 5 years after Metal Gear Solid 2. Our hero Solid Snake has been summoned once again to stop his brother Liquid from completing his plans of world domination and total chaos. And it's not going to be easy...
Snake isn't sneaking into any underground base or evil facility this time. Instead, he is creeping his way round entire battlefields and with bullets flying in both directions too. This creates a whole new mindset to the game as it can't simply be played like any other MGS game. Utimately its able to bring in a new audience by doing so too. Not only is it possible to progress throughout the game using stealth mechanics but Metal Gear Solid 4 can also be played like a tactical shooter.
And this is a necessity because you'll be fighting much stronger foes than in any previous Metal Gear Solid. There are new enemies such as smaller organic like Metal Gears called Geckos. These Geckos are tough and can be slowed down by breaking the stability of it's legs or completely avoided - unless you want to waste time trying to destroy it of course. Speaking of Metal Gear though, you have your own little Metal Gear made by Otacon. This small Metal Gear, the Mk2, can stun nearby enemies and investigate your surroundings as well. Also, instead of a radar, you have another new device called the Solid Eye which also acts as night vision goggles too. However these two items need to be used just as strategically as anything else in the game as they have a drainable battery life and can be heard by enemies due to the loud sounds they make.
Once again, close quarter combat and the camouflage system make in a return in Metal Gear Solid 4. This time they're far more refined and easier to utilise thanks to the new control system. There are now new moves to use and also you're now able to stun enemies with you knife. CQC can also be used on the majority of guns too now so plodding around with an M4 and knife at hand is more than possible. The camouflage system, dubbed Octocamo, still performs based on percentage but now changes automatically (if set to it) rather than through menus as was the case in Metal Gear Solid 3.
What also makes life easier however is the addition of the Drebin Shop. This shop enables you to buy guns, ammo and upgrades for your weapons. You spend by spending points earned from cashing in ID tagged guns found on dead/unconscious solders throughout MGS4. It can also be used to unlock ID tagged guns if you find any. It also has offers from time to time too which is awesome. There are also new items during Metal Gear Solid 4 like the barrel which serves as a disguise, much like the box, but can also be used to knock out nearby enemies if you decide to roll it.
Of course, the real draw in for Metal Gear Solid 4 has to be it's story and the cut-scenes spread throughout the game. It goes without saying that they're simply breath taking. Each one has been executed superbly. Although they're lengthy, they're also gratifying to watch. And it's hard not to grin at how marvellous scenes like the fight between Raiden, Vamp and the Geckos look. There is so much action going on and it is choreographed so brilliantly too.
It is also sweet seeing some of these cinematics as they reintroduce characters that have otherwise been missing from the past few Metal Gear Solid games, such as Meryl and Naomi. There is also a clear sense of evolution and depth added to all the characters such as Drebin, Otacon, Campbell, Rose and even Johnny. grudges and ties between the previous games are cleared up too. The truth behind riddles like the Patriots and the Philosophers' Legacy are solved. However non-regulars to the MGS may be a little overwhelmed by how this developed, especially if you've missed any of the games out before it.
The cut-scenes on the whole are said to stretch out to around 90 minutes and from beginning to end. They're lovingly performed and at times can be interactive too. During the briefing scenes on the plane you can switch the cameras around to see what is going on from all angles. It is even possible to ride the Small Metal Gear around the cargo hold for hidden goodies like extended battery life and rations. After each cut-scene the camera slowly pans out back into the over-the-shoulder camera. MGS4 even has a sequence where the screen splits in half between a fight that is occurring above you and the action that you're currently in as well.
There are many obtainable secrets to find during play of Metal Gear Solid 4, like searching enemies for dog tags and tranquillising bosses for unlockable face camos and weapons. Also completing the game with certain methods can unlock performance emblems. It is also possible to listen to music using the game's built in iPod system. Songs can be added by searching the levels for Konami IP based MP3s. Each defeated boss has their own little reward ranging from grenade launchers to rail guns. And you even get to ride Metal Gear Rex near the end of the game!
Despite this, Metal Gear Solid 4 is still only just an adequately sized game. The game is barely 10 hours in length. It does come with Metal Gear Online which is much the same as MGS4 except you're playing against humans rather than AI. It is also quite an original online mode because of an RPG stats system it features as well gameplay modifiers. This RPG style of play is perfect for team games and that's where it excels the most, especially with the wide range of game modes it has on offer. Sadly, it is only Konami's poor online design in terms of both registration and menus that make the addition a bit iffy at times.
I'd be hard pressed to find any other faults with Metal Gear Solid 4 otherwise. It is practically a flawless game. If there were one game that you could only buy during this generation of video gaming history make it Metal Gear Solid 4. Kojima and Konami knows how to please their audiences. It has just about the right amount of hype and skilful execution to win gamers like myself over. Fans of the earlier games will feel a gigantic urge of nostalgia during play. The new generation of PS3 owners themselves will find it hard to not enjoy such an immersive cinematic experience like this one.
With prices of the game as low as £14, there simply is no excuse to ignore this modern classic. Buy it now.