Playback: Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns Of The Patriots

Metal Gear Solid 4 was the first, and so far only, Metal Gear game I have played. This will be rectified shortly when the Metal Gear Solid collection hits PlayStation Vita.

I purchased MGS4 on day one, plopped it in the drive, skipped the cut-scenes and played it for half an hour before returning it to the shelf for over a year. Then during a quiet Christmas I decided to give it another go and began to play it again. I played some more, and some more – in fact I did little else for three days solid.


You cannot rush MGS4, you have to sit back and savour every last morsel and that’s what I intend to do whilst writing the Playback.

Many criticised Kojima for his movie length cut scenes and spending years getting every last detail perfect but the end result is so gobsmackingly awesome it’s practically a work of art.

An eight minute installation prefaces the first play, during which Snake puffs on a number of cigarettes and the humour of the game immediately shines through when Snake taps the end of his fag on to the floor. ‘Always use an ashtray for cigarette ash and butts’ pops up on the screen and later an anti-smoking message appears as Snake lights up his third ciggie in succession.

[drop2]Then the game begins and I admit I was struck by the same sense of bewilderment I had when I first played the game as David Hayter (the chap who plays Snake) appears in a live action film in which he is interviewed in a talk show.

A press of the X button reveals that is not one live action movie but eight, a fitness show, a game show, even a cookery program all of which are extremely glossy and packed full of CGI; it must have taken months just to create this small section.

All of the programs relate to something in the game, one advertising the health pick-up, Hayter himself talks about the eye patch he is wearing, the same Snake has in game. Is there any point to these programmes, did they need to be in the game? Absolutely not, they are frivolous and unnecessary but they are also wonderful and enriching.

And so the game begins – except it doesn’t. The next twenty minutes or so are the credits sequence in which you play for about 30 seconds before sitting back and watching five minutes of movie before another 30 seconds of gameplay.

Whilst this may sound boring it’s not because the cut scenes are movies. The production rivals that of a big budget blockbuster with a cast of hundreds, an epic soundtrack and many little touches, such as grime on the camera lens, that add to the movie feel.

During my first playthrough all those years ago I used to pause the game when I knew a cutscene was coming up and my flatmate used to come in with some fresh popcorn and we used to sit and munch away and watch the films. He didn’t care for playing the game and enjoyed watching Metal Gear Solid 4 as a movie.

It’s not the just the big plot heavy cutscenes that are long, I have just timed from the start of Act II until I get to actually play the game and it’s taken twenty three minutes before I get hands-on – it really is more of a movie than a game.

From start to finish Act III has taken me just over three hours to play through of which about fifteen minutes were sneaking through Europe, a ten minute motorcycle chase and a ten minute boss battle which leaves over an hour and half of cut scenes – have that popcorn on standby!

“Be warned if you need to ask who these people are: this is not a game for Metal Gear outsiders,” said Edge magazine in their review – but I beg to differ. As I said I had no knowledge of the series before playing it but you can play MGS4 as a standalone game, especially if you have a Metal Gear Wiki on hand.

The plot is quite simple as Liquid Snake hunts for the still living (but,er, not) Big Boss.

[drop]The game is not afraid to tackle mature topics, specifically child soldiers and there is some thought provoking dialogue when Big Mama suggest kids of today are trained from FPS games. There is also rather a lot of sexual imagery such as the Beauties from the boss battles, a fair majority of the enemies are female.

Graphically the game holds up well compared to today’s titles although there is little in the way of visual effects, facial animation is rather stiff as well despite the character models being top notch. Each Act is set in a different area of the world which keeps things interesting, starting in the duty war zones of the Middle East, to the jungles of South America and then onto a foggy city in Eastern Europe.

Sound design is particularly good, notably the battle with Screaming Octopus which can be as nerve jangling as any sequence in Dead Space.

You have probably noticed that I haven’t mentioned the gameplay much and I’m not going to, you know how a third person stealth shooter works. Multiple solutions to problems, lots of weapons, occasional on-rails sections, everything you would expect. During my first play through I chose a stealthy approach which lengthens the game considerably, set the game to easy and run through all guns blazing and the levels can be completed in minutes.

Metal Gear Solid 4 is a genuine classic and can be found for less than three quid pre owned. Grab the popcorn, sit back and immerse yourself in the world of Metal Gear and watch the biggest movie on PlayStation 3.



  1. This game was just legendary, the best part for me was *******SPOILER****** but if you still ain’t played it wtf are you on, you not a fan lol anyway is when snake & ocelot finally have their fight that fight was old school like Atari lol.

    This game made sneaking the best thing ever, the outfit that blends in with evenronment & the best ending to a legend story was sweet. Hideo Kojima masterpiece

  2. I bought MGS4 a few years back, slowly got through it until I hit the ***(spoiler?)*** outer haven level, THAT was incredibly sticky. But after I finally tried to complete that level last month, I couldn’t stop playing until the end. However, I really wasn’t expecting the last cutscene to be over an hour long! Still an incredible game, and even though I’ve got 2&3 lying around somewhere on PS2, I think I’ll get the HD collection and plat them then.

    • Thats a pretty difficult Plat to achieve, once you do platinum them you’ll be very satisfied. I was.

      • Oops! I meant “play”. I’ve never platinumed a game yet!

  3. This is probably my favourite series of games now.

    TC, you should think about trying MGS1 before playing the rest, unless you plan to play the old Metal Gear games that are within MGS3 in the HD collection first. You’ll definitely enjoy the winding and complex plot that seems to permeate all the ‘solid’ games, the understanding of which helped me enjoy MGS4 a lot more.

    • Agreed. The issues you talk mention here are explored more in other games, especially that of child soldiers in MGS2.

  4. Seeing as you’re a bit of a noob to MGS I’m going to forgive you, but there are some mistakes here. Third paragraph from the end, you either mean Screaming Mantis or Laughing Octopus. And more importantly, the plot of the game is about Liquid Ocelot taking down the Patriots AI. Liquid Snake wants the body of Big Boss in the first Metal Gear Solid.

    I do agree that you can make sense of the game without playing the others first. MGS4 was my first played in the series. Obviously you get more from it by playing the others first, but it’s not a must.

    • Regarding the sexuality, there is a certain element across the series, some interesting and some seemingly pointless, though arguably down to a difference in culture. I would argue that simply because the FROGs are all female doesn’t make it a sexual thing; they’re not particularly sexually dressed. The Beauty and The Beast Squad are interesting too, but the ability to take photos of them whilst they pose suggestingly for you is quite ridiculous and unnecessary I think.

      Ugh, I want to write more, but I should be working :P

    • Screaming Mantis, Liquid Octopus, Melted Tiger Shark, Mildly Irritated Lemur, whatevs :)

      • Melted Tiger shark needs to become a character in the next one, break into konami and get him in!

      • Just leave him oozing all over Hideo Kojima’s desk, he’ll get the message.

      • It sounds like the kind of ‘message’ the Japanese Mafia would send :S

  5. wake me when they add trophies

    • They already did it? buy it now! erm… or something, *runs*

    • You really dont know what your missing then, if a game is only worth that little ping in the top corner, what did you do before trophies/acheivements were the norm.
      This is one of the greatest story driven series of all time, trophies are irrelevant in comparison to the enjoyment of playing this game.
      Honestly, give it a play through and you wont regret it.

    • So true, trophies doesn’t really add to the game just stats really. Evne in 2008 that wasn’t much of a issue…

  6. Love for MGS4 is something I could never get enough of. Great article Tuffcub.
    There’s a few moments I don’t like to much in this one but overall its one of the stand out games on PS3 for me

  7. MGS does things differently. Coming from somebody who has over 10 years totally submerged in MGS. It’s more than just a game, so many hidden messages and interesting comments on society. On the surface it’s a good game series, legendary infact. It’s when you look underneath you find its true meaning. Either way, I have to admit I had concerns when it was announced, it was a long time ago that Snake Eater had arrived and I was doubting how a modern market might recieve a game riddled with Cutscene’s and also how new gamers might fair with this, the writer of the article said he put it on the shelf for months before picking it up again. That was my worry. Too many references and reflections on the past series, it had to being them all togther (MGS1,2,3) for it to really work but it did. In a way I can only describe as artistry. The cutscenes are emaculate, the gameplay nerve twisting and the story brilliantly connects the whole series together for us. It’s not my favourite MGS though, it moved away from the camera style that helped distinguish the series as well as other components to the gameplay like pressing snakes back to the wall and looking over his shoulder as well as the revamp of the codec. All in all, it did exactly what we all wanted, we lost some old comforts along the way and the game did move closer to a FPS than a sneaking game but still had enough of the old to feel worthy of the series.

    • I completely agree with this. It is a fantastic game and a fantastic end to the ‘Solid’ even with PW. It’s not my favourite, mainly because of some changes (like back to the wall) but it did still feel like an MGS game. And those later acts are mond blowing, especially of you’ve played through from number 1.
      Good to see this featured.

  8. I may be coming off as a complete fanboy here [and I’m fine with that, by the way] But I get so irritated by the complaint that ‘MGS is more of a movie than a game… yes, your point is? I’ve been hooked on MGS since the second game, ironically the one that started the movie like trend amongs the games after playing the first some years previously and deeming it too hard with it going to sit on my shelf for 2 years. I love it now, of course. But, like others have said; the cutscenes in the game are immaculate and MGS4 ups the ante somewhat by being the first game not to have prolonged exposition via codec conversation. Yes, the game can be completed quickly, but that is true of nearly any mainstream game these days. If you play the game as it is meant to be played you can get a good 10 hours out of it, maybe more. Every game has an angle. FPS games can be completed in 4 hours but have multiplayer which ‘redeems the short single player campeign’. MGS has its finely crafted and perfectly exocuted story and characters to compensate and I feel much happier dropping 40 quid on an MGS installment knowing I’m getting a game and a pretty decent movie when I’m spending the same amount of money of the same, or less gameplay with less care put into the story. What is more, let’s not forget, the cutscenesa are, at least, skippable. I’m glad MGS, the main installments at least, have not conformed to today’s market of lazy casual gamers. MGS is a connoiseuer’s game. It does things a little differently, and does it amazingly.

    • Your totally right with everything you say here. I think MGS is just one of those games, you either get it or you dont. You either love it or hate it. Although I find it hard to take on board that somebody couldn’t atleast appreciate the sheer class and entertainment the series gives. MGS elevates this to a new level as I mentioned before.

      • Slight typo, last sentence should read:
        ‘MGS4 elevates this to a new level as I mentioned before’

        Pretty relevant to my point so felt it needed correcting.

  9. I brought MGS4 about 6 months after it came out and it sat on my shelf until last summer. I’ve never played anything but the MGS2 demo and thought this was amazing as a stand alone game, although, I’m sure the greatness of the game would’ve been heightened had I played the other games.

    I put off playing it for so long as my friend warned me of the long cut scenes but once I decided to go for it the cut scenes didn’t put me off at all, they infact added to the experience for me. The best cut scene for me was Raiden vs Vamp that alone stands up as one of the best fight sequences ever, be it film or animation. Unfortunately, I ran out of time before finishing it and I was in Europe, not too sure how much of the game I have left but maybe with the bank holidays coming up I might just finish it off!

  10. Nice read, it truly is a work of art.
    I highly recommend dloading the MGS Database from PSstore. The amount of details it covers is astounding.

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