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Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots (PlayStation 3) artwork

Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots (PlayStation 3) review

"After years of waiting, it's finally here. The sequel to Metal Gear Solid 3. The final chapter in the Solid Snake story. Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots, has finally arrived. How does the final chapter in the story stack up to the rest of the series, and by itself? "

After years of waiting, it's finally here. The sequel to Metal Gear Solid 3. The final chapter in the Solid Snake story. Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots, has finally arrived. How does the final chapter in the story stack up to the rest of the series, and by itself?

Metal Gear Solid 4 features the story of the series protagonist, or antagonist (depending on your point of view), on his final missions. Due to the cloning process used to create him from the genes of Big Boss, Solid Snake now appears to be severely aged. Disillusioned and bitter, Solid (now dubbed "Old Snake"), makes it his final mission to take down his clone brother and enemy, Liquid Snake, who has taken control of Revolver Ocelot's body. The game takes place in 2014, 5 years after the events in Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty. The world economy now relies on small wars to be fought in order to sustain itself. Private military companies(PMC) are hired by countries to do the fighting, and the PMCs make heavy use of nanomachine technology, such as that frequently used by the main characters in Metal Gear Solid 1 and 2. The new generation of nanomachines are known as The Sons Of the Patriots, or SOP. SOP allows soldiers to receive real time battlefield data and orders from field command. The largest of the PMCs are made of five companies, which are in turn owned by Outer Heaven, owned by Liquid Ocelot. Liquid plans to seize control of SOP and start an insurrection. With time running out, Snake is sent in to take down Liquid Ocelot.

Metal Gear Solid 4 controls very differently from previous Metal Gear Solid games. The controls are arguably designed to be more mainstream and shooter oriented then previous titles. The R1 button controls attacking, while R2 controls a secondary attack when the L1 button is held down. When the L1 button is not held down, R2 brings up the weapon inventory menu, as in previous MGS games. The L1 button is now used to aim guns or ready a knife. The button is held down to prepare Snake to attack. If the button is now held down, Snake will simply do his signature punch and kick combo. The L2 button brings up the item inventory menu. A noticeable button missing from previous MGS titles was a reload button. MGS4 takes a cue from the portable Metal Gear games, Portable Ops, and maps the Circle button as the button used to reload weapons. The X button controls Snake's position. If the button is tapped or lightly pressed, Snake will go into a crouch. If the button if held, Snake will go into a crawling position. If the button is pressed while Snake is moving, he will perform a somersault. The triangle button is now used in context with the environment. Unlike previous Metal Gear titles, Snake will not automatically press against a wall if the player runs up against it. Instead, an icon will appear on screen with the triangle button symbol above it. This is the player's cue to press triangle. If they do so, Snake will get against the wall. The triangle button is also used to climb over objects and interact with guards and objects in the environment. The square button toggles between autoaim and manual aim when used for firing a gun. The left analog stick controls movement, while the right analog stick controls the camera. Clicking down on the analog stick switches the side from which the camera is viewed when aiming. The default is behind Snake's right shoulder, while clicking down will cause aiming to be done from Snake's left shoulder point of view, ensuring that players can always have a good view of their enemy when trying to take a shot.

Metal Gear Solid 4 remains true to the series: it is still a stealth action based game. Despite the game taking place on the battlefield, MGS4's core gameplay is still extremely stealth based. The game encourages players to take the stealthy way often, as the main route is often heavily guarded. Despite it's roots, MGS4 allows players to experience the game however they want. Due to the controls being more shooter based, and weapons being more easily obtained, Metal Gear Solid 4 can be played entirely without stealthy, turning the game into a tactical shooter. The first way this was implemented was the gun laundering system. The guns that PMC enemies drop can be picked up, but they cannot be used due to nanomachines locking the guns to anyone except the owners. Snake can take these locked guns to an arms dealer known as Drebin, how can unlock these guns for Snake, at a price. Extra guns obtained by Snake can be sold to Drebin for credits, which can be used to purchase new weapons, custom parts, and items from Drebin's store. With these items, Snake can not only expand his armory, he can now customize his weapon for the mission. Weapons can be customized with scopes, silencers, flashlights, laser sights and other related attachments. Almost all of the guns in the game can be customized, ensuring that the player has many different ways to play through each section of the game.

Most of MGS4 revolves around sneaking from one end of a large area to another. Snake will encounter personnel from multiple sides involved in fighting wars, as well as a number of vehicles. Snake can choose how to deal with these problems according to each player's style of approach. The stealth in MGS4 has been expanded with the new camouflage system. Similar to Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater, where players could use camouflage to blend into the environment, Snake can now use his sneaking suit to obtain camouflage. If the player remains still for a short period of time against a surface, Snake's suit will copy that texture onto the suit, allowing Snake to blend into the area as long as he remain against the same object he blended into. The suit captures color and texture, allowing Snake to elude guards searching for him, or to launch attacks on enemies without them seeing him in the open. The camo index featured in MGS3 returns. The camo index is a small number on the top right hand corner of the screen that indicates how well Snake is hidden. The higher the number is, the more well hidden Snake is. The number goes higher depending on Snake's position. Being on the ground will increase the index, while standing up has the lowest index. Moving also decreases the number. This is used to help the player realize how well hidden they are from the enemy. The stamina system from Metal Gear Solid 2 and 3 have been replaced with a stress meter. Instead of Snake being too hungry and losing all of his stamina, he will now get stressed when placed in dangerous situations, such as exposing himself out into the path of enemy fire, or standing on an exposed rooftop. The higher this stress is, the harder time Snake will have dealing with combat situations, as it will through off his accuracy. With all of this in mind, the player has a choice whether to carefully move through the battlefields or to rush through with force.

Metal Gear Solid 4 has to be the finest looking game currently on the market. It is definitely an achievement even for the Playstation 3. Textures used often throughout the game look very realistic in HD, so much that it would appear that players are watching a movie when they are looking into the distance or watching a cutscene. Textures in clothing, skin and guns are extremely detailed and impressive even for a next generation game on a new game console. Lighting effects have been used to their maximum potential in the game, creating shaded spots, glare, and flashlight effects that immerse the player into the environment. The constant gunshots mean that Snake will often have bullets pelting the ground near him, which creates an impressive pillar of dust, which adds urgency to the player's situation. The camouflage system is impressive, showcasing the PS3's power in mimicing textures from any part of the environment. Metal Gear Solid 4 is a graphical achievement milestone for gaming.

Metal Gear Solid has always been known for having top notch sound effects and fantastic soundtracks, and MGS4 takes this to the next level. With literally tons of uncompressed audio, the quality of the sound effects is sharp and high quality. The constant sounds off nearby war will often be heard in the background due to the locations the game is based in. The background music is extremely well done and fits excellently into the game. The Theme of Love is used throughout the game, and is effectively used in story telling sequences to create a dramatic effect. As with most MGS games, key moments in the game have a unique audio track that fits the mood of the situation. In addition to the standard background music and sound effects, players have the option of collection soundtrack files from various other Metal Gear games and playing them on an iPod Snake carries in his inventory. These tracks include a variety of songs from many of the previous Metal Gear games, and are sure to satisfy Metal Gear audio fans.

As if the single player wasn't quite enough (and that certainly isn't the case), Metal Gear Solid 4 features the new Metal Gear Online game. Originally seen in Metal Gear Solid 3, MGS4's online gameplay has been changed and is now based on the Metal Gear Solid 4 system and gameplay. This means that the Online mode is now akin to a squad based tactical shooter. The online mode plays much like the single player mode, with a variety of game modes such as deathmatch, team deathmatch, the sneaking mission, where one player plays as Solid Snake, and the capture mission, which is similar to a standard capture the flag game type from other multiplayer games. Like single player, players can purchase weapons for use in each round every time they die, and can vary their gameplay according to how other people are playing. Metal Gear Online has been rumored to be expanded for up to ten years through downloadable content.

For Metal Gear fans, PS3 owners, or just any self respecting gamer, Metal Gear Solid 4 represents the very best in gaming. With the new game play style, a large amount of inside jokes for fans, hidden content and Metal Gear Online, Metal Gear Solid 4 is, and will be one of the greatest games to be released in years.

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Community review by Probester (August 14, 2008)

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