Metal Gear Solid 4

Over a month ago, Metal Gear Solid 4 was release on the Playstation and over a month ago, I played the crap out of it. I stood outside Wal*mart early in the morning and spent the $500 entry fee for a Playstation 3 and a copy of Metal Gear. I played a little bit in the evening after work, but on that Saturday afternoon, I picked up the controller, and didn't set it down until I finished it the next day. I was on my seat the whole time. I was careful, but still raced through the gameplay to watch the next cutscene. I had to see what happened next.

So far in this generation, I haven't felt anything this. Every game I have liked on the Xbox may have had a decent story, but the characters are all so flat and vacant. There's no emotional appeal what-so-ever. You kill a bunch of enemies and the story progresses, but your character never explains how he feels about it. You never show any weakness or compassion. Enemies are merely obstacles, gameplay elements, something to do until you see what happens next.. rather than seeing how your characters will react to what happens next.

The first bit of the game shows off the next gen nature of Metal Gear 4. It pulls in new concepts of the series and sets the stage and themes Hideo Kojima wants to make with his game. War is ugly and the only thing pushing War is the war economy. Nations thrive from war and it's become a way of life for some people.

The overall story in Metal Gear Solid 4 is a very human tale. Though, it does have its fair share of ridiculousness. Metal Gear Solid is quite serious in the themes it presents, but once the game drifts from it's commentary on modern warfare to the actual plot of the Metal Gear series, little bits of crazy start seeping into the frame work. Metal Gear starts off as one game and becomes another.

It becomes the absolute climax of Solid Snake's story bringing up points from Snake's past and MY own past playing Snake in the previous 3 games. Remember when you did this? It's relevant because of this. Remember this person you met? They're relevant because of this. Each game has its purpose, and although Kojima wasn't thinking about all this at the time, they all set the stage for the finale of Metal Gear Solid 4.

This is really only part of the game though.  But it's the most important part to me. The complexity of the characters and the continuous tie-ins that bleed nostalgia kept me playing for those 14 hours until the final breathe of the game.

I am completely satisfied with my $500 purchase, but that doesn't mean Metal Gear is for everyone. With Metal Gear, I wanted a linear experience. Most games try to strive away from linearity claiming it's a bad thing. If you're trying the represent reality, you must branch your story into many different directions which can splinter your focus and ultimately provide a stale experience.

In Grand Theft Auto's case, the story fails because of how inconsistent the gameplay is from the story. In the beginning, Niko is just another guy trying to make a living. However, if you play the game the way some of my friends do and try to kill as many people as possible before the cops kill you, the story falls apart fast when you get back to it and everyone is shocked when you kill a single person.

Metal Gear Solid does a bit of hand holding and several staged events that trigger when you walk to a certain point in the area. The game is also filled with hours of cutscenes. Overall, my initial experience was half-gameplay / half-cutscene. It's literally 5 3-5 hour movies in one package, with some individual cutscenes well over the hour mark.. but you can save halfway through them. You can also skip them too, except for one or two.

The story is also very much rooted in Metal Gear Solid lore.  New-comers to the Metal Gear Solid series will definitely find themselves lost in the later chapters of the game and nostalgia will just wash over them. This game is not really targeted towards new-comers at all and I don't imagine that a new-comer will actually like it either. The target market is really the gaming community at large. People that know games.. That's why the gaming press awards it with perfect scores.

Reviews

I'd imagine this makes Metal Gear rather difficult for most people to review because what do you actual focus on? The gameplay is neat. The graphics are beautiful. The story is neat. The story is brilliant to gamers. Honestly, reviews are opinions and my opinion is stated above. That is what affected me most when playing the game and that is what matters to me. Metal Gear Solid 4 is the best game of this generation, in my opinion, and I don't think they'll be another game to top it, but it is clearly not for a wide audience.

If you see a review of this game that is absolutely void of emotion and doesn't even mention characters, you'll know what kind of gamer the author is... like this fantastic gem for The Isthmus, Madison's weekly newspaper:

This is the solo-mission game to beat this summer, and it should be regarded as a great work of art. You equip yourself with submachine guns, assault rifles, sniper rifles, shotguns, a tranquilizer gun and hanguns, and you top them off with scopes, suppressors, lazer sights and rifle grips. You need all those guns, because the year is 2014, and you are an old hero soldier who must shoot through heavily populated battlefields in the Middle East, Africa and beyond in a very long action-adventure where villains and their expendable troops are rising up to conquer territory

There are serious issues to ponder in the plot, which depicts a world at constant war. Characters explore literary themes of mortality, individualism, the rise of machines and interpersonal relationships

Guns of the Patriot is pretty close to a masterpiece and contains some of the most addictive gaming of 2008. Then you go online to find the same level of artistic detail accompanying multiplayer battlefields. -Doug Elfman

This is a very stoic depiction of the game that reads like the back of the box. In this game I do this and this and this. There are guns and some type of story. Apparently it's a long game, so I'm getting my money's worth. There's also a multiplayer mode, so that'll keep me going after I beat it. This isn't a review; it's a commercial. He goes into length to describe all the types of guns without saying that each one has a distinct feel when you fire it. NOT ONCE does he mention it's a sneaking game NOR that you can choose to take sides in the war.

The two sentences of actual opinion states it as "a work of art" and a "masterpiece" without giving supporting facts to why it is a "work of art" and a "masterpiece". He knows there's something to it, but he can't quite put his finger on it.. better to talk about guns and what you do in the game rather than break the barriers of gaming and discuss it AS a work of art. You know they're there because you mention "serious issues to ponder". Does the fact they are literary make them a "masterpiece"?

I dunno.. despite how annoying this "review" is, this is really perfect for the audience of the Isthmus. I think everyone should definitely give Metal Gear a shot and see for themselves what others regard as a masterpiece. If I were writing this, Should I say that this game is not for everyone? Disclaimer: Very linear story, lots of cutscenes, and heavy references to previous 3 games. If the local paper decided to free up a tiny little portion for a game most of their audience doesn't care about.. Would you tell the audience, "this game isn't for you"?

Well, I think I would have to include that bit, but I'd also include how it made me feel and why I thinking it's the greatest thing ever.. because describing all the guns for the bulk of the article makes it sound like every other game, which Metal Gear Solid 4 is not.




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