PlayBack: Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns Of The Patriots

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Guns of the Patriots will always have a special place in my heart. As soppy as that sounds, if there were no Metal Gear, I wouldn’t be sat here right now, hammering out words on my keyboard. Despite its many imitators, there’s just something so undeniably unique about each and every instalment in the series, Guns of the Patriots being no exception.

For many, including myself, it marked the first in a long string of much-hyped PlayStation 3 exclusives. Even among multiplatform giants such as Grand Theft Auto IV, Modern Warfare, and Assassin’s Creed, Guns of the Patriots held its own, fans certain that Kojima would deliver yet again. And he did. Holding down a stellar Metacritic average of 94, Metal Gear Solid 4 achieved universal acclaim, putting the PlayStation 3 back on the map after a shaky launch.


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Best Bit

Its success can be attributed to a whole wealth of reasons. Not only did it look absolutely stunning, it also had the refined gameplay to match. On top of that, Kojima and the team delivered a masterful albeit bloated narrative, the likes of which we haven’t seen since. If that wasn’t enough, Guns of the Patriots even served up a unique multiplayer component which in contrast to the up and coming powerhouse, Call of Duty.

What really stood out for me and many designated fans, however, was the incredible amount of fan service to be found in the game. From the multitude of easter eggs and flashbacks to smaller things like interactive cutscenes and codec conversations, Kojima never shied away when it came to delivering fan service.

The most emblematic example of this comes relatively late in the game. With his plan in motion, Liquid Ocelot retreats to a disused nuclear testing facility in order to find a weapon powerful enough to launch his warhead. The search lead both him and Snake to Shadow Moses where the original Metal Gear Solid took place.

Although the surprise was spoiled before I reached this part of the game, it still took me aback to walk the same path I had done all those years ago. With each nook and cranny drenched in nostalgia, returning to Shadow Moses is still one of the most unforgettable experiences I have witnessed in a video game.


Worst Bit

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When it comes to downsides, Metal Gear Solid 4 doesn’t have many, even six years after launch. One obvious complaint – more often bandied about by less familiar players – was the game’s story which admittedly outstayed its welcome in parts. I still remember just after launch week trying to sneak a few minutes here and then before school. This proved to be fruitless, however, when I discovered that some cutscenes stretched well over the half-hour mark.

Despite picking up the gist of what’s going on, a great deal of replaying past games and reading wiki entries is needed to get the full context. Names such as The Patriots, The Philosophers, Major Zero, Big Boss, and Les Enfants Terible get dropped regularly, especially during that final, exhausting, movie-length conclusion.

Dumbing the story down to appease more casual fans wasn’t really an option though, unless Kojima wanted to incur the wrath of his hardcore followers. Still, having some form of accessible codex in-game could have helped further players’ enjoyment of the story.


With Metal Gear Online having been put to bed, Guns of the Patriots has lost some of its value. However, as anyone who owns the game will tell you, its the cinematic single player that sells it. Even now, when compared to games such as The Last of Us, it still shapes up well and, more to the point, feels like an actual masterpiece.

17 Comments

  1. I can’t wait to get to this point in the series. After finishing MGS1 I absolutely want to play all MGS games. They story is spectacular and the gameplay was solid, the boss battles brutal.
    MGS Legacy Collection….you will be bought for my birthday in November. A present from me for myself. Selfish little devil in me.

    • Where have you been for the past 16 years??

    • How are you getting on Danny? Surely you’re almost finished, there’s a long way yet to go :)

      • I finished MGS1 last week :) It was great. The hand-to-hand battle with Liquid got to me in the end and I got really frustrated. But I got through it and I enjoyed the last part with the long cutscene. I just love the theme: nuclear war, peace, soldiers without a battle to fight. It’s just so typical of the movies I grew up with my favourite actors (Sly, Arnold, Willis etc).
        I can’t wait to see how the story continues (and how it began). I have this complex plan, to finish MGS games by the time I finish med school next year. And I would buy myself a PS4 as a graduation gift :P And to top it off I’d buy a Ground Zeros or Phantom Pain bundle.

        But forget me ! How did your 3-band wedding party go ?

    • What took you so long…..

      • I mostly played on PC since my childhood. Then 3 years ago I bought my first console a PS3. And as you can guess I have this huge backlog of games and franchises I want to play. That’s why I’m not rushing to get a PS4.

    • Been replaying the series over the summer with this and peacewalker left to go(Inc MG and MG2). The same as most Metal Gear fan’s, it showed me what games could be and it’s been great to grow up alongside the series. To think I was 13 when mgs1 released!

      • ‘What took you so long’ is a metal gear reference. I didn’t mean it literally :-)

  2. The first ever metal gear I played was sons of Liberty & I remember snake walking down the bridge & David hayter talking, man I fell in love then he starts running, throws the cig away, jacket off & jumps off the bridge turns invisible & I was there like Oooooh best game ever!!

    MGS4 was epic finally a way to send off a legend, I mean I would love it if they find (SPOILER) a cure for him. What disappointed me the most was the vamp vs raidet fight, we should have partake in that fight cause I felt like it was owed to us since we didn’t have a proper fight in MGS 2

  3. Great game indeed, definitely one of the very best of the last generation.
    It’s true those cut scenes were crazy long, but it’s part of the MGS DNA, wouldn’t be the same without them.

  4. This was the first game I bought for my then new PS3. I wanted to like it, i really did but man, the cut scenes, story etc were just too much for me. its probably because I came in at this game in the series but, I just felt overwhelmed and couldn’t get into it. Shame really cause it looked lovely.

  5. Great game, the definition of an epic. I finished it at about 1am, naively not expecting so much cutscene to follow the end, and being afraid of skipping it by accident as well as bloody tired I watched the whole thing standing up!

  6. I remember the day I got this game. It was also the day that I got my PS3. What a lovely day it was. Non stop gaming for 2 days and then It was my 20 birthday. So as a birthday present to myself I watched the ending of MGS4, it was glorious. The only other game to make me cry like the man I am in the entire generation of the PS3 is the last of us.

    My mother even asked me what movie I was watching during those days.

  7. Nice re-review!
    I’ve just finished MGS1 again (for what must be the 30th time, easily) and although it’s /probably/ny favourite in the series because of nostalgia, MGS4 nailed it well and truly for story, tying up some loose ends and making the Solid Snake saga feel complete.

    I like to play through the series every year if I can and am currently towards the back end of Peace Walker which I’ve not had the joy of playing before and I replayed Snake Eater early in the year to try and show my girlfriend how awesome it was.

    The whole series is off its tits, brilliant, ridiculous but the best series out there. Kojima constantly pushes the envelope as seen with what’s out there with Phantom Pain and with Silent Hills. The man’s vision and determination is unrivalled and the fact I’ve been waiting for a resolution to both franchises since I was 14 in 1999 days a lot. I’ve been with MGS for more than half my life time!

    Epic game. Epic series. Truly something you can’t appreciate until you’ve played it. Just make sure you bring a bucket to piss in, those cut scenes are RREAAAALLY long!

  8. Metal Gear Solid. All outings. Phenomenal.

    Hideo Kojima and his team are geniuses.

    4 was a stunner.

    • For someone who just got into the series I find your username very awesome :)

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