Metal Gear Solid 4

by Logan

June 12, 2009

Satisfying. If there is one word that can some up Metal Gear Solid 4 and the entire Solid franchise itself, it's satisfying. While every game has been revolutionary enough to stand out on its own, the entire MGS saga is a land breaking endeavor in cinematic gaming. Keeping in tradition with the other games, MGS4 goes out of its way to build upon the previous games in every respect possible. This breath-taking sendoff of the Metal Gear Solid saga is not only the finest entry of the series, but one of the finest games I've ever played.

The story serves as the finale for series mainstay Solid Snake, and this game ensures that he goes out with a bang. The story begins with oldn friend Roy Campbell pressing Snake into doing him the personal favor of eliminating Liquid Ocelot once and for all. What ensues is a cross-continent trek brimming with awesome locales, memorable characters both new and old, copious amounts of fan service, and a truly rewarding story that wraps the story of Solid Snake up in a pretty bow.

Graphically, the game is beautiful. No matter what the situation, the games graphic engine is up to the challenge. War-torn city streets are crafted with as much personality and care as sprawling wildernesses, both of which look fantastic. The character models all look perfect, with everyone  being instantly recognizable. There are so many little touches to the game that it'll take you mutliple playthroughs just to find them. This game is polished to a mirror-sheen, and rarely will you encounter things such as "jaggies" or bland textures.

The gameplay is still very Metal Gear, but some massive overhauls make it far more accessible to many styles of play. The full 3D camera introduced in Subsistence makes a return and works far better than the previous top down fixed angles. The first person view is still around, but it welcomes the addition of an over-the-shoulder third person angle that makes quick aiming far easier. The ability to move while shooting also takes out some of the frustration of previous titles. In addition to a brand new aiming system, MGS4 introduces Drebin. Drebin is an ally you meet early on who "launders" guns for you, or unlocks enemy guns for you to use. So rather than procuring all of your guns on sight as in previous titles, you now have to option to buy and unlock guns and ammo at all times through nothing more than the Start menu. Once again building on MGS3, the OctoCamo system takes Snake Eaters camo idea to new heights. Snake has the ability to press his body against any surface, which causes his suit to take on the texture of said surface. This offers limitless gameplay oppotunities, and really expands your options during play. Speaking of options, this is one of the first MGS games that actually lets you play it however you want. Obviously, stealth is still king, but the addition of the modern aiming mechanics and Drebin allows you to blast your way through if you're so inclined. The gameplay exhibited in MGS4 is what all the other titles were building towards. You have so many options in combat it's almost exhaustive.

Storywise, MGS4 finally delivers on answering all questions that previous entries had presented. It's truly a full-circle affair that tries to incorporate literally every character possible. The addition of flashback sequences and the like make the game one gigantic nostalgia trip. The cutscenes are as long as ever and filled with the same irreverent humor and fourth-wall breaking dialogue that made the previous entries so great. The entire voice acting cast reprises their roles and it sounds great. The score is fitting and quite epic. Featuring many instances where songs for previous games are used to allude to previous events make them all the more powerful. This is especially apparent in the final boss fight, which is without a doubt one of the finest in video game history.

Overall, there isn't much bad I can say about this game. The PS3 installations are a minor nuisance  you'll have to endure. There's an initial 8 minute installation and about a 1-2 minute one before every new act. This is a minor hinderance and doesn't really detract much from the core game. The cutscenes are still lengthy, with the ending one clocking in at about 2 hours. This won't win over any new fans, but chances are if you'd played any previous games, you know they're coming. This game warrants titles such as "masterpiece" and "classic" and is the true ending that a classic character such as Solid Snake deserves.