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Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots Member Review for the PS3

Master_Craig By:
GENRE Action 
PLAYERS 1- 16 
DEVELOPER Kojima Productions 
M Contains Blood, Crude Humor, Strong Language, Suggestive Themes, Violence

What do these ratings mean?

Disclaimer: I know this game has an online feature, Metal Gear: Online, however I will not be reviewing Metal Gear: Online because I have been having issues in attempting to connect with it, and thus I have not played it yet. This review is for the single player campaign of Metal Gear Solid 4 only.

So it's finally here. Legendary game designer Hideo Kojima's Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots, the highly anticipated sequel of the critically acclaimed Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater. This time though, it's the final chapter of the Metal Gear Solid saga, this is indeed Solid Snake's final mission. Does it live up to the hype and does Solid Snake successfully complete his mission? Or does Solid Snake unfortunately, ultimately fail?

Unlike the third installment, players will once again take control of Solid Snake, now known as "Old Snake". To begin with, Snake is now an old man, despite this story set five mere years after the Big Shell Incident of Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty. Unknown to Snake, his old friend Otacon and several doctors they have seen, Snake's age is rapidly increasing, as Snake assumes he has "a year at best" remaining. Shortly after the introduction of Otacon, Old Snake is recruited by his old friend Otacon and Colonel Campbell, who are sending this old war veteran on a final mission to the middle east, to eliminate Liquid Snake. Liquid Snake has amassed forces within his PMCs (Private Military Contractors) which now fight wars for governments,  and it's up to Snake to stop Liquid from successfully completing his insurrection.

The storyline of Metal Gear Solid 4 is pretty solid however, it may become incredibly confusing at times. It's best to have knowledge of all the previous games before playing the final installment, but it's not exactly required. Fans of the series will have only slight difficulty understanding the story, while newcomers may have great difficulty. The cut scenes like all previous Mear Gear Solid titles, go on for quite sometime. This game probably has the longest at that. Thankfully, the developers have finally decided to introduce a pause feature to cut scenes, and even allow players to skip it all if they really want to, but the problem with this is that if you miss a cut scene, you're most likely going to miss very important events that you won't be able to watch again. The overall story is worth watching though, especially with the fantastic voice acting, and the sheer amount of emotion within the story.

Players will note when they begin the game two things. The first thing, is the visuals. Metal Gear Solid 4 possesses some of the best visuals to ever grace the Playstation 3. The cinematic sequences are absolutely breath taking as it uses the in-game engine. It is absolutely incredible, to say at the very least.

The control scheme is the second thing that players will notice. The control scheme is very similar to that of the previous titles, with the camera however working similar to that of Metal Gear Solid 3: Subsistence. Things are slightly different however. When crouching, Snake is able to move while crouching, similar to that of Sam Fisher of the Splinter Cell franchise. Snake crawls now when the player holds the X button down when he is crouching. CQC makes a return, with slight modifications.

Snake may be old, but it's never too late for him to learn new tricks. Snake can now do log rolls while crawling, resulting in lying on his back and even crawling on his back. Even more so, you can also shoot with firearms while on your back, shooting at things above you, or behind you. This is useful if you are knocked to the ground and need to retaliate quickly. Snake also has some new abilities such as being able to flip down from ledges, as well as improved CQC. Snake will also acquire his classic card board box but, will now also obtain a steel barrel, which can be used not only as a disguise, but as a defensive weapon to directly roll into and knock over enemies.

With the improved CQC, Snake is once again able to grab people from any direction into a hold, resulting in either a human shield, or an execution with the knife to the throat. Snake can also even perform more melee attacks and take downs with rifle weapons.

The actual gun play has changed somewhat too. Players will find that they can aim with a Resident Evil 4-style over the shoulder camera, or go directly into first person mode. The player can also walk and strafe while shooting in either mode. It is also possible to turn on an auto lock on system, similar to the previous titles.

The most interesting piece of Snake's equipment is his new muscle suit, which utilizes the "OctoCamo", which means camouflage has returned as a form of stealth. Unlike the camouflage uniforms of Snake Eater, the OctoCamo has the ability to take the colour and textures of any surface Snake presses himself against (by using the triangle button), which means Snake is capable of camouflaging himself in any environment. These camouflages can also be saved, and can be accessed at any point. To begin with, Snake has no form of face camouflage, but acquires it later in the game to increase Snake's overall camouflage.

The camouflage meter, or "Camo Index" works exactly the same as Snake Eater. It's a percentage from zero to a hundred percent. The higher the percent, the more camouflage Snake is, and the less likely he will be seen.

The stamina meter as seen in Snake Eater has gone, and in exchange Snake now has the "Psyche" meter which represents his psychological condition, as well as the "Stress" meter. Snake's stress will increase during combat, especially when under heavy fire, and as this occurs, Snake's Psyche meter will begin to drop. The Psyche meter is important as it determines how well Snake performs in combat, from aiming to fighting. Snake's stress can be reduced by simply moving into a quiet zone and making him have a rest, or by having cigarettes (which decreases Snake's health slowly). Snake's Psyche can also be recovered by the usage of items, or simply resting.

Unlike the previous titles, Snake can now pick up the ammunition and weapons of fallen enemies. However should he pick up weapons from PMC soldiers, their weapons will most likely be "locked". However, these weapons can be unlocked via a new character introduced to the franchise, Drebin.

Meeting Drebin early in the game, Drebin can sell Snake brand new weapons and even upgrades for Snake to upgrade certain weapons he has in possession. Each time Snake picks up a weapon, it will be instantly sold to Drebin in exchange for "Drebin points". Snake will only sell these weapons to Drebin however, if he is already in possession of it, and he will keep the ammunition. By collecting these Drebin points, Snake can use these points to buy more of Drebin's services.

The game is set up in acts, similar to that of chapters. There are five chapters throughout the game, each chapter taking roughly three to four hours to complete. The game has much replay value, due to the amount of unlockables and different methods to actually play the game, including the usage of different weapons and upgrades from Drebin.

Once again, the boss battles are absolutely crazy, however it should be noted that the bosses Snake encounters in this chapter, the "Beauty and the Beast" unit, are not as interesting as the Cobra Unit found in the third installment. Regardless, these boss fights are still challenging, interesting, and can be quite intense.

Many characters make a return for the final chapter of the Metal Gear Solid saga, such as Otacon, Colonel Campbell, Raiden, and Vamp.

This game however, like all video games in general, is far from perfect.

The game is quite linear, tending to offer only one path throughout each area. Each area is fairly big, but there aren't that many open paths for the player to take. The game tends to guide the player down one direction only. It's a shame Snake isn't able to do things like climbing hills and scaling cliffs, which would of been a cool addition in my opinion.

The cut scenes will receive mixed views. On one hand, they are absolutely beautiful and enjoyable to watch, but on the other hand, they can be quite boring when the game throws two dimensional drawing slide shows at the player, or when the cut scene may drag on for an unnecessary length. It also gets annoying when you play for less than five minutes, and then are forced to sit through a cut scene that goes for twenty minutes or so.

Combat can tend to vary in regards to difficulty. Sometimes it can be easier, but at the same time can become very difficult, especially when Snake's Stress and Psyche meter come into play. It is possible to run and gun, but it can be assumed, due to the Psyche and Stress meters, that the developers are heavily encouraging on stealth this time around. Thankfully though, Stress/Psyche doesn't have much effect in boss battles.

Probably the biggest flaw of this game are the installation times. When the game is first installed, it takes eight minutes to install. But, each time the player enters a new Act, the game must take another two to three minute installation process. The most annoying aspect however, is let's say, you have a save file set in Act 1, and a save file set in Act 2, if you play in your Act 2 file, and decide to load up your Act 1 file, the game will have to install this process again. It's not that big of a deal honestly, but it would be better to just jump right into the game, and play.

In my opinion, I'm disappointed that this game doesn't have a duel mode, or a mode where you can watch any of the cinematic sequences in the game. At the very least, players can watch the "Mission Briefing" cinematic sequences that appear at the beginning of every Act.

Overall, Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots does indeed make its mark on the Playstation 3. For all Metal Gear fans out there, this is indeed a must to play, while those who haven't really played the Metal Gear games before, should at the very least give it a go. It's one hell of a game and well worth a purchase, and place in anyone's gaming library.

Solid Snake's final mission is complete, and we should all applaud the fictional protagonist of his efforts in the Metal Gear Solid saga. While he will technically no longer be in any potential future games of Metal Gear, he'll always have a place as one of the greatest video game protagonists of this time.

Here's to you, Snake. Here's to you.

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