Reviews: Metal Gear Solid 4 Guns Of The Patriots

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Never go full Kojima!
The third out of four attempts at putting the Metal Gear saga to bed, Hideo Kojima puts everything he's got into this one, to mixed results. Every single of Kojima's creative quirks—good or bad—is dialed Up to Eleven in the PlayStation 3's first "killer app," making previous games seem positively low-key. And that about says it all, I reckon. Regardless of how I feel about the end result, I'm nothing less than impressed at the amount of leeway Kojima is given on such a prominent commercial juggernaut... the way the business is going, we will probably never see anything on this level ever again. ...And that's kinda sad.

At least some credit must be given to Kojima's brave attempts at trying to connect all the games' myriad plotlines. Clumsy, yes, but I can't really bring myself to believe anyone could have done a better job. The ending of MGS2 was, after all, just intended to be an inherently nonsensical Mind Screw to the fans from a man who had already become disillusioned with fandom expectations. And he even gets time to squeeze in his provocative societal commentary du jour alongside all the convoluted madness. Thankfully, at least the plot is grounded by Kojima's eminently lovable and complex characters, interactions, and the often bittersweet fates they will meet. As a character study, it's often a heartbreaking rollercoaster of ennui, and it's here that Kojima's skill as a writer shines the brightest, as always. On this level, it's more than a worthy Grand Finale.

As for the gameplay, I consider it a step back from previous titles. with a heavy focus on sneaking through active, noisy combat zones, it's not really my idea of ideal Tactical Espionage Action. even with little skill, you can almost play it through like any other third-person shooter, stealth bedamned. I personally don't, but the game seems a bit too tailored towards this manner of gameplay from the outset. Far be it from me to accuse Kojima of pandering to "casuals", but I can't say the idea didn't cross my mind from time to time.

Metal Gear Solid 4 is hard to truly love or even like at times, at least for me it is. It seems like Kojima makes every second game in the series one tailored to no one's full enjoyment but his own. It's unique, sure, but Kojima could really have done with some creative restraint.
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