Game of the year for 2008.
Running around going stealth all whacked on the nano snacks
First, let's get the so-called 'bad' out of the way. For any reviewer, who is a reviewer, who is a gamer, who calls themselves a gamer, who complains about the 8 minute load time at the beginning (and a few more throughout) the game, you're not getting the picture. Raise your hand if you think the 80gb hard drive was put in the PS3 to save 50-100kb files. What? No one? Great, now you know why they put that hard drive in the system. I would rather wait 8 minutes of my life to see a portion of the Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots game loaded into the system then have horrendous load times throughout the game. Anyone who does not appreciate or get that concept fully... is an idiot. Sorry, that's what you are. Reviewers sometimes look for things to gripe about rather than appreciate what was made. In this case, there is no argument. Metal Gear Solid 4 is a beast of a game, that has been known for some time now. Without this option of loading information/material into the hard drive, the game might have been miserable. To Kojima Production's credit, they did what they did to make the game pleasurable. Again, for any reviewer who doesn't get this, you're an idiot.
Now, on to the second gripe that some reviewers had, the cutscenes. Every Metal Gear, since the PSOne days, has had cutscenes. Granted, they may not have been lengthy as MGS 4, but nonetheless they were there. Personally, being a story/movie lover, I found it seamless and worth the wait. It added to the story, it made the gameplay deeper in a way. It gave you a cause to fight for as Solid Snake. It built everything around you. It could have been a movie by itself and one day I hope they do go that route. For anyone complaining about this, you've got no concept of story or set-up. The cutscenes, while long, brought it all together and I would prefer it no other way. As much as I would love to get straight into the action and the belly of the game, I preferred a purpose and we certainly got one. No complaints from me, it's completely appropriate.
With that said, let's talk about gameplay.
The controls in MGS 4 are outstanding. They take the concept from the original three (sorry, not counting the NES days) and tweak them ever so slightly. You've got your multi-purpose triangle button that allows you to stand/kneel/crawl, which is fantastic. You now have the ability to roll on your back under heavy gunfire and roll back over. This is especially useful when you're shielding yourself behind a rock and you need to roll out to fire quickly and then return to cover. It's a great addition to an already great system. Overall, the controls in the game seem a lot tighter, more adapt to the newer version of the game and just well-done.
Let's talk about weapons now. During the game you can pick up various weapons, much like you could in the previous titles. The variety of weapons seems to have grown on a massive scale. Each serving its own purpose, and sometimes complete overkill (no pun intended). There is a new weapon system intact though, where you have such a wide variety of weapons and you have an arms dealer named Drebin who controls the going and coming of weaponry. During the game, when you dispose of an enemy soldier, you can obtain their weapons. You pick ammo and whatnot, which gives you points. You can redeem these points for unlocking weapons, which are ID locked (meaning, the weapons in the future match the ID of the person carrying them -- part of the story). It's a neat feature in the game, something that makes it a bit deeper and drives you to take out soldiers when the opportunity is the best. This brings us to the other aspect of the game.
Much like previous MGSs, you have to know when to take someone out and when not too. The game has always revolved around this method, thus the silly stealth reference in the headline for this section. In MGS 4, you get a bit more freedom to take some troops out. The PMCs are the ultimate enemy, fighting for Solid's twin brother Liquid, who are also fighting against the rebels (which are kind of on your side). You have so many different opportunities to actually unleash hell on these poor souls (the PMCs), moreso than in past versions of MGS. That helps so much, here's the reason why: What's the last game that you played that was out of this world good? More than likely it was a first-person shooter (Call of Duty 4 for me). Transitioning between an all-out war fest like CoD4 into an MGS stealth-esque type game is jarring to the senses. This time around, you can whip out your gun and start taking people out, of course you want to make sure you've got the ammo and the positioning for it. The AI in MGS 4 is good, not great, but they're good enough to call in back-up on a consistent basis. Thankfully, there is a limit to PMCs, where their command center tells them they aren't allowed to have anymore troops, which is cool. Much improved part of the game, gives MGS a bit more action than fans of the series are use to.
Fighting the cell processor and winning
As for the environments, everything is alive. If the demos over the last year or so didn't give you a good feel for the different areas or the different styles of environments, prepare yourself. Flying debris, explosions and gunfire, if you have speakers (5.1) that fit the bill for the PS3, then you will experience it all. It immerses you into the game, gives you a sense of shell-shock to an extent and forces you to be a part of the storyline. You will be blown away by how beautiful and horrifying this scarred land is in MGS 4. You will certainly understand how truly (expletive) up all of these individuals in the game have become thanks to a war-torn land. Again, just absolutely immersive, but horrifying at the same time.
As for the graphics, you will be hard-pressed to find anything more detailed and beautiful than what you will get in MGS 4. The octoCamo is outrageous. Anywhere you go, and you lie still, Snake will camouflage into that environment. For example, in the story you raid a mansion (not telling you the reason), but there is a rug on the floor that leads up the stairs. When you lie on the rug, your octcoCamo takes the form of the rug pattern. Amazing, simply amazing. You can do this with any object in any environment. That's just the start. You get to see facial expressions, you've got detailed shadowing, the water effects are accurate and believable. What more could you possibly ask for graphically in a game? The character models move fluently, taking care to not skip a frame. Foot patterns on dirt embed on dusty roads. The smoke effects from explosions fade with the wind, everything just looks sweet. Again, pure eye candy.
Drebin would sell this game, that's how good it is
As for the storyline itself, I've been debating on whether to give anything away or not and I've decided not too. The story is so damn good, you've got to experience. I don't want to be that annoying guy who tries to explain what happens during a movie and give away the plot. Just know that this game has some familiar faces, some scary new faces and some great plot twists. If Indiana Jones had been this well written it would have been the summer hit. This story is more like The Dark Knight. Very defined characters, a methodically crafted story that punches you in the gut at the end. I'll leave you with that.
Now, the online play has been catching some flak for some reason. I'm not completely sure why, but here are the modes you get with the online play:
This game was not intended to be Halo 3, but Kojima's group wanted an additional experience to an already legendary game. The online mode is quite good, so you shouldn't be disappointed, but if you're looking for an online FPS, you're going to be out of luck.
So is the game worth it? Hell yes it's worth it! If you were looking for a reason to purchase a Playstation 3 (if Resistance didn't do it for you), you now have the reason. It's the best game of this year. It's got action, it's got story, it's got a good online mode that isn't as inspiring as the game itself, but nonetheless really well-done. You have all of these things that make the game great, a full package, and it's only $59.99? Amazing price for what you get, absolutely amazing.
Purchase this game. Period.