Monday, July 7

Game: Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots Click for more info

I'm pretty lucky to play MGS4, it being a PS3 exclusive. I was actually going to buy the system just for this game alone, me being that much of a fan, but Sony's decision not to release a limited edition PS3 in this country prompted a feeling of rebellion much stronger than my want. I decided to hold off; after all I had waited three years to play MGS3 too. But I managed to get a copy of the game, and more importantly a PS3 to play it on, after all.

And as a game it's pretty ace. It looks and sounds brilliant, both in game and during the now expected cut-scenes. Not that the two can be separated - although cut scenes have always been rendered in real time in past games, in MGS4 they actually flow into a playable state. It's just another of those little bits of quality that you can't help gasping at.

Gameplay-wise, It's definitely Metal Gear - you need to sneak around as much as before, procuring weapons and items as you go along. There are differences though, some major - the game is definitely more arcadey than before with the controls now taking on more of a FPS scheme, and the consequences of Alert Status not as grave as it used to be.

Not that it's difficult not to avoid getting spotted: although enemies are smarter over all, the level design is such that there are specific set pieces or methods to get from one checkpoint to another without getting caught. Of course, those of us less patient (or unable to figure out the preplanned route) can just fight our way through. Although this flexibility has always been a requirement of the MGS gameplay, it's never been as refined as it is now. A perfectly balanced difficulty tops it all off.

Other gameplay elements I find to be a bit distracting. We still have the battery and stamina to manage although like in MGS3 they don't seem to impact the game too much if you ignore them. Quite bizarrely, there is now also a shop from which you can buy weapons and ammo. Although this is a good idea for those times when you find yourself low on bullets (hasn't happened to me yet), having to buy weapons instead of picking them up in the field as before kinda takes away from the flow of the game.

Finally you also have access to Metal Gear v2, a tiny robot that you can use for recon as well as to stun remote enemies. I've yet to use it past the initial toying around stage. The beauty of MGS however is that if you don't like a particular element then you can ignore it - the game is robust enough for you to play it however you want.

MGS4 really is a superb game. I'm only three and a half hours into it, so can't really decide whether it's the best MGS yet, but I'm already enjoying it as much as I did MGS1 and 2. I have a hunch that its real depth and enjoyment is yet to come.