Sunday, December 9

Metal Gear Solid 4 Guns of the Patriots Review

Available on: PS3
The price I paid: £1.50
I played on: PS3
Notes: N/A

Metal Gear Solid is a strange, brilliant and weird series that goes from talking about child soldiers one minute to having to fight a man that controls bees the next. The way it blends serious issues into a bonkers world with a tin foil hat conspiracy connecting all the games together has endeared itself to lots of fans. Metal Gear Solid 4 is the ending to all of this, the ending of the Patriots, Big Boss, Eva, Solid Snake and everyone else. I find due to that it’s instantly a game only fans of the series can understand on any level. If you’re new to the series pick up MGS 1 or 3 and start there. There is no introduction to the characters here, you are expected to know them all already.

The gameplay is an improved style of earlier games, you play in 3rd person unless aiming down the iron sights on your gun and you’re able to crawl, crouch and run around the levels. The main idea is to avoid being seen and the levels offer lots of different pathways and a little height so how you play is really up to you. I love this, the controls feel so good. My biggest issue is that it’s far too easy to just run in all guns blazing and win. Health items are more common as is ammo and your access to larger and more powerful weapons. You find an RPG less than halfway through the first mission which really says a lot about this games focus when compared to the other games. This is more of an action game than previously and stealth becomes secondary. Saying that, the action is good, you will often be able to help out one side of the battle and it starts to feel like you’re in the middle of an actual battlefield with lots of explosions, gunfire and screams. The biggest issue the gameplay has is how little of it there is as around 40-50% of this game is pure cutscenes. This was unavoidable with all of the tangled plots it had to unravel and end but it still makes it a bore to revisit and as such it’s one of my least played Metal Gear Solid games.

The story told through these cutscenes is a complex one, it’s a mess that any Metal Gear Solid fan will love for how it connects so much of the background lore but it’s not simple to follow. I think it’s very telling that this game launched alongside the Metal Gear Solid database app on PS3 because to understand everything you will need to go through this as well. So much is happening all the time that even for diehard fans it’s easy to miss something. This leads to lots of possible plot-holes such as how did Raiden become a cyborg, where did Sunny come from and what happens to Snake at the end of the game? If you really dig into the game and pay lots of attention these are answered but it’s not obvious. I also hate everything about the character Johnny otherwise known as Akiba. In Metal Gear Solid 1 and 2 he’s an Easter Egg you can find, never considered canon but a fun little joke. In this game, he becomes a romantic interest for one of the series best female characters Meryl from MGS 1. This is stupid and undersells Meryl so much, it’s mindless and nothing about his character makes any sense. On the flip side of Akiba is Octacon who is one of the best and most underrated male characters in all of gaming. He is not a soldier, he is not brave but he is as important to the series as Solid Snake himself. Octacon will fall in love easily and gets hurt a lot because of this, he will often cry openly but no one ever tells him it’s bad. It’s so good to see a soft, loving man next to all the action heroes.

The graphics are amazing, even today next to Metal Gear Solid V they hold up, in fact, the only thing better than the visuals is the audio design. This game blows me away with the talent of the voice actors involved with it. David Hayter sells Solid Snake in an amazing way and everyone else keeps up with him so well. The action scenes have the right tension, the emotional moments have heart and everything is just so well done. I can’t play the mission in Europe without crying at the end, I don’t want to say why but if you’ve played the game you know why. The soundtrack is never the centre of attention but when it’s needed it will perfectly add to it, never enough to distract you but enough to push the scene forward.

Time to talk about this games biggest problem, the Beauty and the Beast core. The 4 main bosses you will be fighting are beautiful women who have been broken by war and reformed as monsters. The idea is pretty good on paper but it fails because it’s framed that the only way to help these women with serious mental health issues such as PTSD, Psychosis and more is to kill them. While you learn these stories and watch these women suffer the camera objectifies them by lingering around their bottoms and breasts as much as possible. You’re watching these women suffer horribly from their past trauma all while the camera is acting like it’s setting up a porno. When this is finished you’re forced to kill them while they walk towards you in a sexy motion hips moving from side to side as much as possible. If they catch you all they will do is hug you. You can argue that you can easily use the tranquillizer gun to knock them out but the cutscenes after all act like their dead and so does the plot. In the series canon they die and so I will act like you have to kill them even though I never do. This is a horrible way to treat both people with mental health disorders and women in general and besides that, it’s just not nice to see. I find the B&B Corps the most off-putting and gross part of Metal Gear Solid 4 and it really was the start of my understanding that Hideo Kojima has some real issues with women he needs to work on. The more control he gains over the series the worse it gets for these problems until we get the torture porn found in MGS V Ground Zeroes.

Metal Gear Solid 4 is a real mixed bag, the gameplay is amazing, the plot although complex and silly is fun and rewarding for fans of the series but the long cutscenes and disgusting B&B Corps take away so much. If you’re a fan of the series then pick this one up, it’s not as bad as Ground Zeroes which I honestly would avoid. I love this game while also hating certain parts of it. I want to hate it and give a low score like I did Ground Zeroes but then I think back to revisiting Shadow Moses or the fight between Solid and Liquid or the mid-credits scene and so many more brilliant moments in this game and I can’t hate it. It’s a mess and a distant call from the first 3 games but still fun if off-putting at times.

Recommendation Rating: 7 out of 10.

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