I think it is pretty sad when a game company is expecting a Third Party Game to start selling their system. Sony does not have a franchise IP such as Microsoft’s Halo that would drive sales of their new system. Not that PS3 have no other good games: Heavenly Sword was a solid game, Resistance: Fall of Man was successful enough to get a sequel and and the new Ratchet and Clank is very good. But Ratchet and Clank, a returning game from the PS2 days, is not a Halo-level franchise. The only series that approach that level on the PlayStation format are two third party games: Final Fantasy and Metal Gear Solid. As long as these games are exclusive to Sony’s system, their fans will buy PS3 to play them.
While Final Fantasy 13 is still way off, Metal Gear Solid 4 came out last week, even coming with the new 80 GB PS3s. The MGS series has its roots back in the PSOne days (and even farther to the NES and Japan’s MSX computer for the original Metal Gear games). The series weaves a complicated plot that ran through four games (MGSs 1-3, plus Portable Ops for PSP) with elements of the original Japanese Metal Gear games and it all comes to it’s conclusion in Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots. The hero, Solid Snake, returns as Old Snake, suffering from a degeneration disease due to his origin as a imperfect clone of Metal Gear 1 and 2’s baddie (and hero of MGS3 and Portable Ops) Big Boss. He faces off a world wide conspiracy that is trying to achieve perpetual war while simultaneously trying to stop Liquid Ocelot, a Russian Cowboy wannabe formerly Revolver Ocelot, but now “possessed” by the right arm of Liquid Snake, Solid Snake’s evil twin from doing the same but taking over himself. Along the way he reunites with allies from the previously game while revealing how the characters from the prequel games are connected to the whole Patriots conspiracy and the whole MGS mythos overall.
The gameplay is very good, bring parts of the control system from the previous and improving them. The game is still a Stealth Action game, but with the addition of the Drebin Point system and a in game weapon shop accessible from the pause menu means you can play it as a run and gun, provided you have enough points to to buy the ammo and weapons you need. Gone is the cure menu from MGS3 but it improved the camo index with the addition of OctoCamo, a chameleon-like suit that blends in with the environment.
Graphically the game is beautiful. The graphic are so detailed that the in-game engine is used for the cut-scenes (and there is A LOT of them). The detail on characters and buildings, the weather effects and special effects make the game a wonder to behold. Fans of the game will take delight in exploring the ruins of the setting from the first game.
Metal Gear Solid is a story driven game. It is truly a interactive movie, but the cut scenes, while numerous and long, are well acted and contain enough info to excite fans, and not scare off newcomers too much. Anyone who knows about series creators Hideo Kojima’s penchant for long cut scene will not be surprised by this.
The only downside to this game is the load times and the constant installation. The game installs to you hard drive every time you start a chapter. Expect to wait 3 to 5 minutes between chapters as it installs and watch old Snake chain smoke with the text espousing game hints, health advice, promotes picking up litter and, on occasion, suggests you go an rest for a bit if the system clock reveals you re playing in the wee hours of the morning. And during the game, there is a 5 to 10 second load time when you go from one area to another. This can ruin the immersive experience of the game and it very unfortunate, but understandable, considering the amount of detail in game.
Overall, I can say this is an excellent game and what a way to end the series. It probably won’t win over anybody who did not like the previous games or are not familiar with the series’ 20 year history. If this is THE game that you bought your PS3 to play, you won’t be disappointed. 4/5