Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots
A truly excellent game
- One of the greatest games ever created, satisfies in almost every way possible
- 'Stress' concept is a bit confusing at first, a quick tutorial mode would have been handy
Absolutely brilliant. Buy it. Buy it now!
Price$ 119.95 (AUD)
Who's the boss?
Of course, no Metal Gear game would be complete without an array of memorable boss battles, and even here MGS4 surpasses the loftiest expectations. The chief villain is Solid Snake's brother, Liquid Snake, who is residing in the body of another classic foe, Revolver Ocelot. But the most prominent boss battles are between Snake and The Beauty & The Beast Unit, a squad of grotesque cyborg abominations who are more than they first seem. You'll need more than raw firepower to take out these metal-clad monsters, and each battle plays out in entirely unique, unexpected ways; thankfully, the element of frustration that plagued past MGS boss fights has been eliminated. And by the end of the game, the boss battles become so epic and so shocking that you'll literally be pumping your fist in the air, wide-eyed and delighted by the spectacle. These are the moments that will have Hollywood directors like Michael Bay shifting uncomfortably in their seats. Why watch the latest big-budget action movie when you can play a game as powerful as this?
If the core shooting and sneaking is the steak of MGS4, then the weapon customisation is the gravy. Kojima is a Pokemon addict who has reportedly collected every Pokemon in every game ever, and you can see that influence extend to MGS4's extensive suite of weapons. You can find over 70 guns in the game, from non-lethal tranquilizer pistols to grenade launchers and double-barrel shotguns. Some guns are literally handed to you, others are hidden, and still more are scooped off enemies or unlocked at the end of the game. Shopping is convenient, too, after you meet a weapons launderer who will supply Snake with high-end firearms and ammo — for a price, of course.
In order to purchase these exotic weapons, you'll need to scoop up the fallen guns of enemies and allies and cash them in for 'Drebin Points'. But it doesn't end with weapons. You can buy dozens of modifications, from laser sights and flashlights to under-barrel grenade launchers and recoil-control grips. This weapon customisation system is brilliant for two reasons. First, it allows you to convert sub-par firearms into more specialized weapons, such as adding a rifle scope and silencer to a stock carbine to create a silent sniper rifle. Second, it encourages you to replay the game again and again — not that you need to be encouraged — in order to unlock the highest-end weapons that cost literally millions of Drebin Points. Even scooping weapons off of fallen enemies is addictive, and it's often tempting to dart out of safety to grab nearby guns.
Raising hell with Cell
But as impressive as MGS4 is on a gameplay level, it also amazes on a technical level. MGS4 is one of the most visually striking games ever released, and also the first game to show off the hidden power of the PlayStation 3. Technically speaking, the game is a marvel of production. Artistically speaking, it's a triumph.
You won't need an HD TV to appreciate the game, either. Kojima has always famously downplayed the importance of hi-def visuals, once telling me that he wasn't interested in HD because he prefers a "dirty" look, which he feels gives his games a livelier atmosphere. This is probably why MGS4 goes in the complete opposite direction of other new-gen games whose graphics look almost too clean and clinical. The world of MGS4 is smeared with dust, soot, and grime, giving the game a rich, tactile texture that plays well on even standard definition TVs. Colour is also used to great effect, with post-production filters that saturate the game in deep greys, greens, and golds. This is a visually striking game, even if you're stuck with a standard-def TV.
But if you have access to an HD TV, MGS4 will show you the bleeding edge of video game graphics. Leveraging the power of the PlayStation 3's octopus-like Cell processor, MGS4 renders some absolutely phenomenal environments. The first act takes place in the dusty slums of the Middle East, and the second act moves to the sweltering jungles of South America. Visual variety is a hallmark here, and thanks to Snake's globe-trotting journey, the game never repeats the same look twice. The environments are not only shockingly detailed, but also massive in scope: when you see the soaring peaks of South America, you'll swear you're watching archival film footage. MGS4 has that effect on players, effectively blurring, if not erasing, the line that divides games and cinema. It's absolutely remarkable.
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