Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Metal Gear Solid 4: A spoiler free review

Does saying a game is absolutely fantastic count as a spoiler?

Anyway, I've heard a decent amount of mixed opinions when it comes to the much anticipate Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots. One "Times" reviewer went so far as to say he doesn't even consider it a game.

Considering the fact the watch-to-play ratio is just about even, I can see where he's coming from. I do not, however, agree in the slightest. If you were to argue MGS4 is an experience more so than a game, I would be more inclined to see eye to eye with you. But I'd also probably have to give you a swift throat punch for saying something like that.

Moving on.

I'm sure by now you've heard the cut-scenes in MGS4 are epic in length and scope. Kojima and staff have outdone themselves this time around. Though, while part of me loved every second of the dramatic, engaging story which unfolded with little to no input from me, I did find myself just wanting to take control of the action as the game progressed into the later chapters.

What is there to be played, though, is something truly magical. Though the story and levels are linear, Kojima has provided a surprising amount of variety any type of gamer should be able to enjoy. From the sneaker to the run-n-gunner to someone stuck in the middle, you can play MGS4 however you like. The maps are also wide and varied enough to allow you to choose how you get from point A to point B, so replayability is definately there.

Along with the standard infiltration gameplay, you'll get the chance to tackle a wide variety of unique play mechanics I don't want to ruin here. The big joy in this title is uncovering all of the good stuff for yourself. Plan on making multiple save files just so you can go back and relive all your favorite moments at will.

For casual fans or those who have never played a Metal Gear game before, I completely understand how you might not get what all the hubub is about. Sure, you're getting a great 18 or so hours of entertainment, but you simply can't appreciate how much freaking work went into cramming in the sheer volume of fan service MGS4 has to offer. That's not an elitist statement. It's a fact.

At its core, MGS4 is a love letter to fans of the series. It'll keep you guessing every step of the way as far as "what will they have me do next," some of the boss battles are awe inspiring and the long conclusion brought tears to my eyes on several occasions. I'm not just BS-ing here. The script and score pulled on all the right heart strings to wring an emotional reaction out of me.

While you could easily play the game proper multiple times just to unlock everything and see what the vast number of easter eggs have to offer, there's also the Metal Gear Online component to consider.

It's as simple as this: If you like Metal Gear Solid 4, you should like Metal Gear Online. Finding a group of folks willing to utilize all the teamwork opportunities presented can be tricky, but once you find yourself in a room with some likeminded individuals, the experience is a hell of a lot of fun.

I don't want to blow things out of praportion, but I also don't want to deny credit where credit is due. While the actual playtime is a bit short, a couple scenes are longwinded and the majority of boss battles don't really compare to some of the series' greats, everything offered boasts such a high degree of polish and love, it's hard to imagine someone not getting their money's worth out of MGS4.

For fans of the series, the biggest achievement may be seeing how Kojima managed to satisfactorally wrap up one of the most convoluted stories ever told. The story, believe it or not, leaves you with no loose ends to wonder about.

While other installments in the series did certain things better, no other Metal Gear game (or any other game for that matter) has sat so right in my mind after completion.

I absolutely loved it.

No comments: