Presentation – 10
Everything in this game has a real nice polish to it, and the presentation is no different. The cinematics are front and center once again but this time they mean business with the story line as this is supposed to be the last in the MGS series. The story starts you out 5 years after the events of Sons of the Patriots in the middle east where it’s a raging battlefield. Otacon is once again supporting you and he has a little Metal Gear Mark II that he controls. You learn that you’re mission is to find an operative to give you a location to find your enemy. As the story progresses you learn that your operative was FOX-HOUND led by Meryl and that the main enemy is Liquid that you must kill. From here on out it’s a crazy chase around 5 different locations including Shadow Moses from the first PS1 game.
Kojima promised us that this will be the last Metal Gear Solid game and that all the crazy storylines will by answered by the end of this game. Well he wasn’t lying not only does this manage to tie all the loose ends but it’s a thrill ride all the way through.
To anyone who’s never liked the over the top story and outlandish characters, they will probably not change their minds about it. It’s pretty much the same as the other ones, but that’s not a bad thing at all. The cut-scenes are long, the voice-acting is superb and it’s a visual masterpiece.
The in-game HUD resembles the one in MGS3 but has the same functionality seen in the other titles. The radar is noise based and made possible with the Snake Eye. The weapons and items selector is still the clicking wheels in the lower side corners. You get a wind-direction arrow and compass in the top right corner.
The main menu looks great and features Snake in the background at a funeral. There’s 4 different difficulties to choose from when you’re first playing, Liquid Easy, Naked Normal, Solid Normal and Big Boss Hard although The Boss Extreme gets added when you complete the campaign. I chose Solid Normal on my first play through, there’s 5 acts to complete and you can expect to spend 15-20 hours finishing MGS4.
If you’ve played any of the other MGS games, it’ll be a big plus for you as a bunch of things happen that are totally fan services. You’ll already be familiar with the characters, you’ll know more about the back-story and act 4 is totally for us MGS1 fans. The 4 Beauty and the Beast bosses are throwbacks to the old cast present in the first and second titles. Let’s not forget the final boss is totally what needed to happen for MGS fans, best story ever from beginning to end!
Graphics – 10
These are the best graphics on a console game period. This is not the first time Metal Gear has accomplished this, they were always amongst the best looking games for their time periods. Saying this though we always have to points out some negatives which are minor. Some textures look lower-res in spots of the game, the frame rate does drop at some moments but they don’t occur often enough to really notice it.
The cut-scenes are all in-engine so you can expect to watch a long cinematic and not have to load up after. These cut-scenes look as good, if not better then pre-rendered ones. Lip syncing is top-notch and facial expressions are fantastic. I would pay to watch this as a movie in the theaters, it’s that nice to look at.
The actual in-game graphics also are stunning. Guns have nice muzzle flashes, the stun grenade’s effect looks great and pretty much every weapon has an outstanding graphical flare to them, not to mention the extraordinary explosions.
Snake’s animations are fluid and realistic, they tie together nicely. The facial details are extremely well done, no character looks worst then the other. The hair flows in the wind, as does clothing, making the game look even more fantastic. The snow effects look amazing, it actually gets stuck on Old Snake.
Sound – 10
The sound excels in MGS4. The returning cast has their voice-actors reprising their roles, David Hayter, Snake’s voice is of course still here and thank god!
Let’s talk about the voice-acting first of all, there’s a bunch of it for starters. Otacon is back giving you instructions along the way, which is fantastic, and Colonel Campbell is back as well. If you’ve ever played any of the other Metal Gears, you’ll know already that having these characters return pretty much guarantees pure gold in terms of acting.
It’s like watching a theatrical movie release although it’s a PS3 video game. Not only are the cinematics a joy to listen to, but you also have your codec that allows you to communicate in-game with Otacon, Rose and Drebin. They give you hints as to what to do, but they also have alot of funny stuff to tell you like when you call them from inside a cardboard box.
The visual flair from all the weapons are also equally represented in audio, the rifles sound spectacular, the pistols well done and explosions are epic.
The menu cues and sounds are exactly the same as the other games, which is totally nostalgic at this point and there’s nothing wrong with that, if anything it’s awesome that those are still here.
The soundtrack truly is epic, and mixes in with the emotion perfectly, sometimes the music alone will get you pumped up or calm you down.
Gameplay – 10
The gameplay was always second pony to the outlandish story line, but that is not the case for this title. As for how crazy the story actually is in this game, it’s matched by the gameplay.
Controls have been simplified since Snake Eater and not much requires you to press 2 buttons, outside from aiming and shooting and changing from first person view to over the shoulder view. So in that sense it’s much improved over the 3rd in the series.
Another major change in the game is the fact that it’s more open for you to choose how to play the game. It’s still mostly focused on stealth as it gives you bonus Drebin points (the game’s currency, used for buying guns and accessories) at every ending of acts for killing less enemies and being spotted less. But you can still run and gun in this game which the other games didn’t encourage.
The gun play in this game is very visceral and satisfying, the kickback feels intense and the Dual Shock 3 support actually helps it. There’s less emphasis on close quarters combat this time around, it’s in there but you only really need it once in the entire game, which can lead to confusion once you’re actually there.
The boss fights are exciting to say the least, while they aren’t exactly the hardest in the series, they are action packed and can last for a while. They’re all completely different from each other and some of them require puzzle element skills. The best act for gameplay and bosses has to be the fourth, so once you’re there, get ready for some action packed sequences and crazy boss battles.
Fun Factor – 10
The fun factor is superb, even if you’ve never played the others in the series, the main story-line is not totally disconnected from the other games but explains itself in a matter that doesn’t need past experience.
The controls like stated earlier have been refined and tuned to perfection. There’s some re-playability here but not much, the story and gameplay paths are pretty linear as far as branching off goes.
Another thing that adds to the fun for me is to see what classic Metal Gear references were in there, every time I saw something I either laughed, cried or jumped for joy.
The online is functional but not too exciting, you get to customize your character, weapons and stats. Saying this it’s kind of limited to what you get to do, for example you only get a set number of faces to chose from, set limit of voices and so on. It seems this was just developed by Konami to suck more money from you as it seems you’ll be able to buy new items and characters later on.
The online is there for whomever enjoys it, personally I always thought the online in MGS games was sub-par compared to the campaign although this time around it’s definitely more enjoyable.
Overall – 10
Metal Gear Solid 4 is an amazing looking game with a unmatched story, epic cinematics and superb gameplay. This game is unlike anything we’ve ever seen.