Part 4: Guns Of the Patriots
Of all the Metal Gear Solid games this is the one that divides fans the most. To some, it’s an overly bloated, stop/start, off-putting adventure; to others, it’s a masterful blend of carefully refined gameplay and narrative that’s arguably the most cinematic a game has ever been. In the end it is utterly uncompromising in what it sets out to achieve and if you’re willing to dive in and really get to understand it, it’s one of the most rewarding gaming experiences you’ll ever have.
‘Guns Of The Patriots’ makes no qualms about being a game very much for the Metal Gear faithful and it’s so stock full of the stuff that fans of the series most adore that we can’t help but love it. Don’t like the lengthy cut-scenes of the previous games? Give this a miss because there’s almost as much cut-scene as game-play. Found the story so far unwieldy? You’re out of luck because the fourth game in the series really ramps up the twists and turns of the plot. The message is clear: if you want to get even a modicum of what this game truly has to offer, go back and play the others and fall in love with them as millions of gamers before you have already done.
If you were already on board the MGS bus you most likely spent the dozen or so hours of run time with your jaw on the floor because of the presents the game kept giving you. First, and foremost you FINALLY got to play as Solid Snake again. Yes, that’s right…i’ve been complaining about it for the last two articles in this series but Kojima finally answered gamer’s prayers and let us step behind the controls of the greatest hero in gaming one final time. Sure it was a slightly older Snake but dammit it was Solid Snake and I wasn’t going to turn my nose up at that. On top of Snake, Meryl the heroine of the series also made her return wrapping up an important loose end from the first game. In fact MGS 4 wrapped up all the loose ends from the series and as i’m sure you know, there were A LOT of them. Going into the game I thought there was no chance in hell that every confusing detail would be addressed but sure enough the game managed to do it, and in a pretty satisfying manner no less.
Of course, the greatest bit of fan service was being able to return to Shadow Moses the infamous setting of MGS 1. Trudging through the desolate snow once again, seeing the frozen bloodstains still tarnishing the ground where you defeated enemies of the past was an experience that sent chills down my spine. I just wanted to explore every inch of the place and revel in wave after wave of nostalgia. The moment where Otacon chimes into your codec and asks you to change disks at the exact place you had to swap disks in the original game was truly special, particularly as Otacon realises his mistake and marvels at the progress of technology in no longer having to do that. The level ends with you finally getting to pilot a Metal Gear yourself and a Kaiju-esque grudge match ensues: Metal Gear Rex vs Metal Gear Ray. Truly Breathtaking.
As expected MGS 4 took the systems of the previous games and iterated on them marvelously. The much lauded camo system from ‘Snake Eater’ was technologically enhanced to give player a full body, chameleon-esque suit which blended into whatever environment Snake found himself in. This combined with a plethora of other little gadgets, including a cute little stealth robot, and gave Snake a whole host of options when confronting a sneaking mission. On top of all this, the gun-play was refined to make the action sequences a lot smoother which was a refreshing addition on previous games.
The criticism that MGS 4 is too cut-scene heavy is frankly a legitimate one. I’m the biggest fan of MGS and the story-line but even I wished I could actually play the game a bit more. Rather than a flowing adventure you have consider Guns Of The Patriots as a series of big set pieces which are a complete joy of themselves and make up for the fact that the game isn’t better stitched together. From the fights with the ‘Beauty and the Beast’ Unit members, to the epic bike chase scene, to the devastating finale as a dying Snake crawls towards his final objective; the game needs a lot of exposition to set these moments up so they can deliver the proper emotional punch. Guns of the Patriots is trying to be the most filmic a game can be and it certainly achieves that goal although the manner in which it does so may not appeal to all.
So that’s it for this retrospective and hopefully it’s wet your appetite for what’s to come with ‘The Phantom Pain’. Metal Gear Solid is my favourite series in gaming to so to finally have a new entry is certainly something to get very excited about. MGS V promises to be a very different experience from what we’ve had so far but from looking back at the games in the series so far we can be confident in assuming it’ll give us moments we’ll remember forever and make us realise new and amazing things the medium of video games is capable of doing.
Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain comes out on PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, Xbox One in the United States and Europe in September 1st 2015 + in Japan September 2nd 2015