Konami Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots

A truly excellent game

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Konami Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots
  • Konami Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots
  • Konami Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots
  • Konami Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots

Pros

  • One of the greatest games ever created, satisfies in almost every way possible

Cons

  • 'Stress' concept is a bit confusing at first, a quick tutorial mode would have been handy

Bottom Line

Absolutely brilliant. Buy it. Buy it now!

Would you buy this?

  • Buy now (Selling at 16 stores)

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Full motion video

Even more impressive are the game's characters, which are modelled after real-life actors and animated by motion-capture techniques for an intensely realistic look. The facial expressions are particularly extraordinary because they manage to convey meaningful emotions beyond just rage and fear. Seeing MGS4's characters in action, you'll be struck by how empty, soulless, and one-dimensional most game characters really are. If you want to know exactly what the game looks like, head to GamePro.com, or any other gaming site, and watch some of the trailer videos. Kojima has fooled us again: These aren't pre-rendered movies, as many had assumed, but in-game assets running in real time. The game just looks sensational.

Another new PlayStation 3 technology, Blu-ray disc, has proven to be an enormous asset in MGS4. The massive 50GB of data storage means that the developers were free to create as much content as they wanted without any compromise in quality. This storage advantage is particularly evident in the game's striking use of audio. Mastered by Skywalker Sound, the experts behind George Lucas' Star Wars films, the in-game audio is endlessly varied: it paints a rich sonic palette that heightens the intensity of the action and the emotional resonance of the storyline. Gunshots sound eerily realistic, explosions rumble with low-frequency reverberations, and wildlife chitters nervously in the background. It's a feast for the ears and, like so much of MGS4, a new high water mark.

The soundtrack deserves special mention. From the opening title screen to the end credits, MGS4's masterful score represents another soaring success. MGS4's soundtrack stirs up your emotions with ease, from passion to excitement to regret. The spine-tingly mournful "Love Theme" is a particular standout here, but everything from the battle anthems to the cinematic score is simple phenomenal. This is one soundtrack you won't forget — here's hoping it ends up on iTunes sooner rather than later.

Battle fatigue?

There are a few blemishes. A new feature called 'Stress' isn't explained quite clearly enough. Here's how Stress works: intense combat or extreme conditions will raise Snake's Stress level, which negatively affects his 'Psyche' meter, which in turn reduces his healing rate and weapon accuracy. The confusion regarding Stress and Psyche is a minor issue, though, and their relationship becomes apparent as you progress through the game. And in the end, Stress and Psyche are effective ways to help you bond with Snake's emotional condition in any given scenario. Another small shortcoming is that MGS4 doesn't include a true tutorial or training mission, which might have been a wise choice given that Snake has a large repertoire of manoeuvres. First-time players will want to pull up the 'Briefing' menu to get acquainted with the controls, though the basic shooting and moving is self-explanatory. You'll also spend a good deal of time poking through your inventory in the middle of boss battles and protracted firefights, which can occasionally disrupt the dramatic flow. These are tiny, almost inconsequential quibbles, however, in an otherwise flawless game.

Welcome to the next level

There's not much left to say. Metal Gear Solid 4 is a brilliant, moving, exciting, intense action game that succeeds hugely at everything it sets out to do. It sets new standards for graphics, sound, gameplay, and storytelling, and it may be years before it is equalled, let alone surpassed. You will not play a better game this year-maybe even this decade. If you own a PS3, buy this game immediately. And if you don't own a PS3, well, it's time to start saving those nickels and dimes.

In the end, everyone's a winner. The PlayStation 3 finally gets its "saviour", Kojima gets his masterpiece, and gamers get one of the best games of all time. And they all lived happily ever after.

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