I just finished up Metal Gear Solid IV: Guns of the Patriots on my new PS3, and I thought I might share some of my impressions. Before I start, yes, I am now a 3-console owner. I picked up a MGSIV bundle off Amazon – they had a site preorder reminder that I used to find out when their preorder would start, then I grabbed one the second they went on sale. Overall, I have favorable impressions of the console -I don’t think it will replace the 360 as my choice machine, but I like it none the less.
Onto the game. First of all, the game plays more like an action movie and less like a traditional video game. What it does, it does perfectly. But, more than that, it was built so the gameplay has a cinematic feel to it. The in-game cinematic engine is a technically magnificent achievement. Usually when the in-game engine is used to render the cutscenes, the cutscenes suffer. However, it doesn’t feel that way in MGSIV – it feels like you get to play the game in the cinematics engine.
As far as gameplay, it’s the traditional Metal Gear Solid experience. The game itself isn’t rather long or particularly challenging, but it maximizes the time you have with it. There’s a tremendous amount of variety in the game, though it definitely emphasizes stealth over force. The boss battles are each entirely memorable and enjoyable, and many of them definitely pay homage to some other familiar fights throughout the series. The battles that lead up to endgame – Acts III, IV, and V – are all so well executed that most games would be lucky to have one such moment.
Onto the story. The story holds itself together, more or less, right up to the end of the game. Snake has taken a beating in life, and it really shows in this game. I can’t think of another game I’ve played where the main character and half of the lead cast would qualify for the Senior Citizen discount, but it was particularly fitting to the story and refreshing at the same time. One particular moment, the end of Act III, is one of those defining moments in video games – truly not to be missed. However, I was not a fan of the ending of the game/series. It reminded me of more traditional Japanese fare I’ve seen – overwrought with self-importance and far too anemic (and far, far too long). It’s a shame, really – for a game that takes such bold steps in plot development and cinematic delivery, it’s sad to see it falter at the the end.
All in all, I’d say this is an experience not to be missed, though it can certainly wait if you’re averse to paying full price for video games. There are always a few system-seller titles, and in my humble estimation, this is one of them. It’s very nature has undoubtably broken new barriers in videogaming, and I’m excited to see what Hideo Kojima has in store for us next.