After playing Metal Gear Solid 2, 3 and Portable Ops in rapid succession over the summer, I found myself with the need to seek out and play Metal Gear Solid 4. The continuation of the epic story was all I could think about. That is one of the greatest things about the Metal Gear series, the story is so rich with depth and intrigue that you need to play it all in one go to fully realise the scope of everything that is happening.
Five years after the Big Shell Incident (MGS2), the world has been plunged into an everlasting war. The Patriots saw fit to create a war economy where Private Military Companies are hired throughout the globe to fight meaningless skirmishes for the sake of profit. Suffering from a debilitating aging condition, Solid Snake is asked by his old friend Roy Campbell to go back into the thick of it once more when it is discovered that the leader of the 5 largest PMCs is none other than Liquid Ocelot…and he has a plan.
This was the first game I played on my PS3 so it was a brand new experience all together. My immediate delight was seeing how far the graphics have improved for the series. Having completed MGS3 a few weeks before, I was absolutely amazed at how acute the details were, especially on Snake’s sun-beaten face and the carnage in the opening FMV. Being my first PS3 game, I was a little startled that I had to install each chapter of the game as I went through. This can take a few minutes but I can only assume it’s there because of the amount of memory required to play the game.
I’m sure you’ve all read that the game is one long FMV with intermissions throughout where you actually play. I do agree they are quite long but if you want to appreciate all the support characters this is your only avenue. Don't you want to know what you're playing for? It also gives your hands a good rest. During one of the chase scenes, my thumbs were quaking from constantly changing direction and aiming for pinpoint accuracy. The informative debriefs gave me that time to rest up!
CQC makes a welcome return which would be the first time we are able to use it as Solid Snake. I read that after Zanzibarland (Metal Gear 2) that Snake vowed never to use it again because of Big Boss’ betrayal. Well that doesn’t matter now! I found myself only using it for pleasure though. Weapons and ammo were quite easy to obtain, plus you had the 24 hours services of Drebin’s gun laundering business. I think I spent most of my points on buying (unfortunately degradable) silencers for all my weapons as you usually found yourself in a situation where even being stealthy can’t help. I'm quite snipe happy and prefer chalking up headshots.
The cure system has been completely removed which I felt was one of the more interesting assets of Snake Eater. Stamina has been replaced with ‘psyche’ which deals with your state of mind and whether you can handle the situation you get yourself in. Something as trivial as a comment about your appearance can take this down though! In other news don’t worry guys, the camera angles are no longer a problem! You have complete control of the camera now so there aren’t any blindspots like before.
Jumping from 1964 to 2014 obviously means a lot of upgrades in technology. The Octocamo suit is one of my favourites. Not only does it save fumbling through the menu for a new costume, but it’s so easy to use. All you need to do is lean against the surface you’re hugging and you’re instantly matching it! My second favourite is the Metal Gear Mk.II. This handy little robot is literally Snake’s sidekick as it stealthily follows you around everywhere; you can control it to create diversions, reconnaissance and shock guards.
The Solid Eye was a useful concept but I found myself forgetting all about it. It is an amalgamation of infra-red goggles, night vision, binoculars, the soliton radar and gives stats on all enemies in sight. Unfortunately for this very helpful bit of equipment, it is battery powered! It runs out quicker than a spanking new Sony Ericsson! I just learned to use my peripherals checking every corner, nook and cranny. There are boss fights when you have no choice but to use it but other than that, I got through the game just fine without it.
Character-wise: the whole gang is here! Solid Snake, a man who was once at the human peak of fitness and lethality, now finds himself with geriatric attributes. Hes out of breath often, verging on seizures and can’t crouch for long without his back giving out. You really do feel for him, the legend himself has succumb to such a disability that he doesn’t even know why he is still fighting but he still does because even though his body has changed, his mind is still in the game. Thankfully, the Octocamo suit is able to sustain Snake’s body for his final mission making him somewhat capable like the previous installments. Special shout out goes to Raiden’s miraculous return, for everyone who hated him in MGS2, you are in for a big surprise!
The voice talents are beyond repute. All returning from previous installments, you really do get a feel of continuity from it. Unfortunately Cam Clarke wasn't able to make it back for this epic but I feel Patric Zimmerman really does outshine the lot of them and creates a real atmosphere when he enters the scene.
As with the main series of Metal Gear Solid, you find yourself facing a group of villains with insane abilities. The group in MGS4 is no different. The Beauty and the Beast Unit are the most diverse, tedious and fucking awesome female villains you’ll ever fight against. Each member is a tribute to the main boss’ from the old games which is fun for the die hard fans to think about it. [Link removed - login to see].
Overall, I was thoroughly impressed with Guns of the Patriots. The gameplay can be very fast, nauseating and above all fun once you get the hang of it. As long as you are willing to listen, you can get so much out of the story that you’ll be thinking about it for months after completion.
Isn’t that what we really want out of a game? When it still lingers on our minds once its over and the drive to replay it to recreate those moments?