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Review

Metal Gear Solid 4

Do you remember when it happened? Of course you do, no one ever forgets, no matter how hard they try. It was like the universe sucker punched you in the gut, sending you down on your knees, gasping for air. The moment you realized that you are not special, that you will never amount to anything, all your dreams will go unfulfilled, you will never know anything but empty false happiness and you will die alone and bitter. You remember that hollowness that formed in your centre at that moment? Remember how your soul was sucked into the black hole, the singularity of despair that formed in its centre? Remember how you died inside? I want you to concentrate on that numbing pain of your decaying soul, because that is exactly how every other game will feel like after you have played Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots.|

To review such a game is simply impossible. Not a single person lives or will ever live that is worthy of playing, experiencing Metal Gear Solid 4, let alone review it and any attempt to do so is a falsum and flawed by nature. And yet, by some miracle somehow I found myself happening upon the privilege of playing it, it was a strange and wonderful experience. Like shagging a super model, all the while you cannot shake the feeling of shame and guilt, the feeling that this should not be happening, that you are not worthy, that she is too good for you, but damn it if you are not going to enjoy it for as long it is going to last anyway.

Convention dictates that I am to review it nevertheless, and just like a painter commissioned to draw the sun I will just have to do it at the best of my abilities. It is impossible to paint the sun, because looking at it blinds you, but if you squint or blink really fast you might catch brief glimpses of its true form, and that is exactly what I will do with Metal Gear Solid 4, I am going to blink really fast and try to describe to you what I see as my retina burns away.

In terms of gameplay, Metal Gear Solid veterans will be saddened to find that Metal Gear Solid 4 is the most mainstream Metal Gear Solid game that has ever been made in many categories. One of those happens to be the sneaking category which following the evolution of the series reaches its ultimate conclusion by becoming almost completely optional. This was no doubt done to draw in the ever increasing mass of that degenerate type of gamers that are tainting the industry with their cancerous ravenous cravings for anything shooter. As a result Metal Gear Solid 4 is the least challenging of all its predecessors, but to expect it to have become less enjoyable for that reason would be an insult to the genius of Kojima Productions.

The first Metal Gear Solid was the most challenging of them all with a very stringent, almost mechanical set of sneaking rules. It was not shy about dishing out punishment to any who didn’t have the skills to go through the game undetected. The game took place in, at that time, a gorgeous 3D environment, but gamers didn’t have time to take all that in because they spent most of the game continually staring at the green Soliton Radar screen in the corner to see where the guards and security cameras were and where their vision cones were aimed.

To keep that alarm from being triggered setting off a torrent of genome soldiers with itchy trigger fingers on ones trail one would have to be patient, study the patrol patterns of soldiers and proceed with caution. It was a very rewarding experience to traverse an area undetected leaving behind the denizens of that place none the smarter that the legendary soldier had made a laughing stock of them all, passing by right under their ignorant noses. Those looking to take the thrill of sneaking to its apex would try and complete the game on the hardest difficulty without being detected once and without saving or using continues, hats off to them that managed to pull that off.

Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty, which despite its age is still one of the greatest looking and playing games of the last generation, was also challenging, no doubt about it, but it toned it down somewhat by providing Snake and Raiden with a tranquilizer gun that they could very effectively and with great skill use to disable anyone in their way and then stuff them in a locker so no one would ever catch on to what had happened. But the radar and vision cones were still there, together with small environments and cramped corridors which took a lot of skill to sneak through undetected.

Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater made things even easier by completely getting rid of the radar and giving you the ability to hide in plain sight by using camouflage. The environments went from cramped corridors to spacious forests and Snake could use a very effective form of close quarter combat or CQC that could be used to quickly put down anyone who happened to spot you. Snakes arsenal of weapons and the amount of ammo available for each of them also steadily grew with each game slowly turning him into a one man army.

Metal Gear Solid 4 takes these developments to their ultimate conclusion by placing Snake in battle fields where sneaking is pretty much made into an option. You can ally yourself with the rebels fighting on the battle fields and fall into their favour by fighting along side them. You can even help them win fights which once successfully done allows you to traverse the dominated area at your leisure and find all the secret items. To make your acceptance by rebels even easier you can try to find one of their uniforms and disguise yourself as one of them. Doing so will cease any hostility towards you from the rebels, unless you start killing them of course, but will make you a target of the opposing PMC army.

All the different options available to a player to complete a given area in Metal Gear Solid 4 gives the game a tremendous amount of replay value where you can complete the game several times and each time it will feel like a completely different game. People new to Metal Gear Solid will likely try to use reptilian tactics of blasting their way through each level, leaving everything dead in their wake and for the most part that option is open to them. Others still might sympathize with the rebels and will want to fight on their side to try and tip the balance in their favour. Others still will forgo both options and go the old school route of trying to use good old sneaking tactics combined with the tranquilizer gun and Octo Camo suit to traverse areas undetected.

Playing Metal Gear Solid 4 was the most fun I’ve had in my life but sometimes I caught myself feeling guilty for using a combination of tranquilizer gun, strong arsenal and the NV mode on the Solid Eye to traverse though the game pretty much unhindered. Somehow it felt wrong to be able to so easily pass through such an amazing game. Progress in such a game should be something you should have to earn through almost torturous effort, but that would have made the game less fun for everybody.

During my second play through I discovered that the game also has many alternate routes one can choose between as the environments of the game are nothing less than huge which once again adds to the replay value of the game, something all Metal Gear Solid games always were very strong in.

To further open up the game to all gamers the controls of Metal Gear Solid 4 have received a complete overhaul, something few will find any faults with as it now mirrors more closely what one would expect from the type of game it has become. As a result unlike the other games in the series newcomers will find the game easy to pick up and play. The basic controls are not much different from what one might find in a typical shooter which means people coming from that background will instantly be able to play the game. But unlike the brain dead sim
ple controls of most shooters that haven’t evolved in 20 years the controls of Metal Gear Solid 4 has fathoms of depth just waiting to be discovered and utilized by more advanced players. In fact I am going to go ahead and claim that it has the most advanced controls of any other game I have ever seen, heard of or played.

It is hard not to notice the steady ramp up in the arsenal of weapons with each new instalment in the Metal Gear Solid series. Metal Gear Solid 4 easily trumps all the previous games combined with an absolutely insane cache of weapons available to be found and used in the game, and most can be customized too. Add to this the entry of Drebin’s shop and Drebin Points which is a new comer to the series. Drebin is a sleek black market arms dealer with a pet monkey which essentially translates to a weapons shop available at all times through the game’s menu. There you can buy weapons and ammo in real time, so you will never be left wanting of either.

The weapons available this time are also incredibly overpowered too; some of the more powerful weapons available can take down vehicles, attack helicopters and even the ever intimidating Gekkos with a single shot. Unfortunately the availability of such weapons makes Snake a force to be reckoned with while at the same time reducing the dread and threat level of super cool enemies such as the Gekkos down to almost nothing. Sure, one always has the option to not using said weapons by trying to take on such threats using only ones skills for being stealthy, but having alternative options available makes such a choice somewhat artificial and voluntary.

The weapons don’t come free though, and some of them are actually quite expensive while some weapons are not even available in the shop at all but have to found, hidden somewhere in the game. This adds a fun collector’s aspect to the game where one, getting to keep everything one managed to sweep up on a previous run through tries to find the remaining ones in a subsequent play thorough. There are a variety of different ways to earn Drebin points to be spent in the shops and the most effective is just picking up the weapons of fallen soldiers which are then automatically sold to Drebin in exchange for credit to be used in his shop. You also earn points for destroying certain threats and for doing well according to a given set of criteria in a chapter which is then counted up and awarded to you when you finish said chapter.

So, Boss Battles. This is a Japanese game after all and so you can expect there to be boss fights, and the Metal Gear Solid series has always excelled in exceptionally well executed boss fights that unlike shooters don’t just require you to point and continue shooting at an overpowered ordinary enemy until it topples over. I don’t know how Kojima Productions does it, but each Metal Gear Solid game has managed to have plenty of boss battles with each of them somehow feeling completely different. Each battle breaks up the game conventions and mixes things up by introducing you to a new side of the game you have never seen.

While the collective efforts – or lack there of – from western shooter developers have never managed to produce even a single compelling boss fight Kojima Productions has managed to create several in each Metal Gear Solid game that each feel like their own unique sub game. The boss battles of Metal Gear Solid 4 certainly do not disappoint, they are as epic, enjoyable and different as ever.

Metal Gear Solid 4 is also the master of keeping things fresh because unlike most games that are just the continuation of their first few hours until they end Metal Gear Solid 4 seems like it wants to try to be a different game every few hours, just for the heck of it and to show off. It is amazing to play a game that keeps surprising you until the every end, bravo Kojima Productions. One minute you are sneaking around, another you are fighting on the battle field, another you have become a tracker, then another you have become a stalker then in yet then another you find yourself in a high tension chasing scene.

When I played the Metal Gear Online Beta a few months back I impudently complained about the graphics not living up to what I was expecting from Kojima Productions and I bitched and moaned to no end about how I hated the monochromatic colour scheme I though Metal Gear Solid was using, just like every other western game made for brain damaged colour blind gamers. Kojima-sama, say the word and I will cut out my own tongue and present it to you on a napkin in shame as a punishment for being such a stupid little twat. In the 2 years that I’ve had my 42” plasma I never realized that it could display such heavenly imagery or such an amazing spectrum of colours. Every single moment spent staring at Metal Gear Solid 4 is a moment where its unreal visuals make sweet, sweet love to your retinas.

While most games these days, for some unknown reason, have been made using a very limited palette of colours all the way through the game which bores my eyes to such a degree that they try to kill themselves Metal Gear Solid manages to change its look, style, palette everything with each chapter as Snake is running around a different part of the globe. Yes, a game that actually changes its look completely several times through, unbelievable.

This game is a final and concluding collective fuck you to all western game developers and their huge budgets and single minded obsession with visuals and technology. Here is a game that puts everything else ever made to suicidal shame and hammers the railroad spike of Japanese superiority in all fronts of gaming through the forehead of the industry once and for all. Take note you western chimps, here is a Japanese developer that not only gives your technological aspirations a teeth shattering punch in the face but at the same time manages to also bring to table the Japanese exclusive of amazing and incredibly varied gameplay as well. Now go back to your cubicle cages and continue flinging your poo at the each other, or what you call game development, you useless gits.

Story has always been a big part of the Metal Gear Solid experience with Kojima-sama’s expert skill for delivering an thrilling, interesting story that you actually care about complete with a healthy sprinkling of plenty of plot twists and loveable larger than life personalities. Metal Gear Solid 4 delivers in this category in spades and somehow manages to tie up all the loose ends of that the strange and wonderful story of Metal Gear Solid 2 left with its conclusion. The story telling technique employed in this Metal Gear Solid is much more down to earth than the other games and it somehow manages to provide logical explanations for all the seemingly super natural happenings in its predecessors.

Kojima-sama knows that this is the last Metal Gear Solid game helmed by him, although there is a strong hint in the game that this is definitely not the last Metal Gear Solid game. So the story, presentation and everything about the game feels like it is the ultimate tribute to Metal Gear Solid series and the magnum opus of Snake which is no doubt, the creator’s way of saying goodbye to him and seeing him off with absolute style.

When the game box of Metal Gear Solid 4 mentions cinematic experience it does not mean cinematic in an 8mm B-movie kind of way which all other games do. Kojima-sama is a movie director at heart and so it comes as no surprise that the greatest action movie director is not some talentless cocksuker over at Hollywood having made a carrier of converting millions of dollars into garbage. No, sir, the greatest action movie director lives in Japan, his name is Hideo Kojima and the greatest action movie ever made is the one you get for free with the purchase of Metal Gear Solid 4.

Kojima-sama is not content with having a talent hung like a friggin whale by just performing the miracle of creating the most
compelling action movie ever made and the most amazing game ever made at the same time, no, that is not at all enough for him. He has to go out and add the third miracle of doing all of this real-time using the game engine without using even a second of pre-rendered footage. You heard that right, except for the well crafted live action commercials at the beginning of the game and the footage of eggs being cooked every single second of the game is being rendered in real-time.

Don’t take my word for it, during any of the cut scenes simply just push up on the digital pad and move the right stick around. Or even better, go on and try to put a different face on snake using Snake Octo Camo suit options and he will have that face during cut scenes, truly mind blowing. This of course becomes no less amazing by the fact that Kojima has somehow managed to do exactly this since the first Metal Gear Solid game on the PSOne whose hardware was designed in the early 90’s. The enormous technical challenges that this requires are unknown to most but let it just be said that doing the cut scenes this way instead of just choosing to pussy out and using pre-rendered videos is like choosing to cross the Atlantic using a rowboat as opposed to taking a plane. Our collective hats off to you Kojima-sama and Kojima Productions, you are truly gods among men.

Reviews like this are reserved for ordinary games. To review such a game as Metal Gear Solid 4 is like commissioning a blind man to share his opinion on a beautiful oil painting painted by a true artist, it just wouldn’t work. The nature of Metal Gear Solid 4 lifts it above such conventional ways of judgement. But alas, the nature of the industry makes it necessary for even such a game to be subjected to such an insulting judicial process. For you see, this game is available for purchase to all, even the lowest forms of humanity who should deservedly combust and be reduced to ashes in the divine presence of it.

Note: our reviewer originally wanted to score this game infinity/10. Sadly, the limits of our database system meant this had to be truncated to a 10/10.

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