[Shock Value is a weekly segment which runs down inexpensive titles that are more than worth the money spent.]
Developer: Kojima Productions
Genre: Stealth Action
Release: June 2008
Platforms: PlayStation 3
Pricing: New: $20, Used: $10 (Amazon)
Rundown: Every form of media has its share of classics. Cinema is filled with triumphs such as Citizen Kane, Gone With The Wind, and Casablanca. Literature is no slouch either with books like H.G. Wells’ The Time Machine, Charles Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities, and Homer’s Odyssey. Video Games have been the newest form of media to bring modern classics to the world, and in June 2008, with the launch of Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots (MGS4) that’s exactly what Konami and legendary game director Hideo Kojima brought to us all. Metal Gear Solid 4 is gaming’s Odyssey and Kojima is our generation’s Homer.
There are two words that are synonymous with the Metal Gear Solid saga since it debuted on the PS ONE over a decade ago, they are: epic and convoluted. The thing is, Kojima-san is a precise architect when it comes to constructing his story lines, and right when you think you have it all figured out… he hits you with three more loose ends. It can, at times, be a bit much to keep up with, but if you give it the attention it deserves and play all of the games in the series, it all actually starts to make perfect sense. Addressing the issue of loose ends in the Metal Gear Solid timeline and story arch is what Kojima-san set out to do in MGS4 and that’s exactly what he achieved.
The game opens up in the near future with a much older Solid Snake. The world has changed and so has the way that countries conduct their wars. War has become a necessary evil, almost business-like as it helps to stabalize the economies of nations around the globe. They are now fought using Private Military Contractors (PMCs) with constant conflicts around the world taking place at one time. PMC’s are considered living weapons and this is because they have been outfitted with nanomachines that enhance their abilities while keeping stress levels down during battle – the perfect soldier. These same nanomachines however are part of a large network called Sons of the Patriots (SOP), and that network has the ability to control a soldier’s free will.
Early on, Snake finds himself at the center of one of these PMC conflicts in the Middle East. Except he’s not there to fight for either side, he’s there to track down Liquid Ocelet who is determined to hijack the SOP system and use all of the world’s military to hold the world hostage. At the same time, Snake himself is aging at an alarming rate from the Fox Die virus which he was injected with years prior, and he can die at any moment. It’s now a race against time to save the world from those who threaten it while he still can.
Along the journey the game becomes somewhat of a rollercoaster ride that is broken down into 5 acts. With every act you learn and uncover more and more about the story and all of the characters we’ve come to know along the way, all while tying up every single loose end. It all comes together to bring you one of the best final acts and send off for arguably one of the best characters in the history of gaming.
Although the title was released a 2 whole years ago, it’s still stands as a technical marvel of this generation. The team at Kojima Productions wanted to make sure that they harnessed as much of the power of the PS3 as possible and if you see the game you know right away that they have. Visually, MGS4 not only stands side by side but also manages to surpass any first party title released for the console to this day. Period. It holds true for the sound department as well. Not only will the game’s score stay stuck in mind for weeks or months after your play through, but the uncompressed PCM 5.1 audio is a true feast for the ears.
There so much that can be said about MGS4 but if I was told to give a quick breakdown all that would have to be said is that if you’re a fan of gaming you need to play this game. If you don’t already, this is one of the biggest reasons to own a PlayStation 3. Just like the original entry in the series a decade ago, Kojima-san has raised the bar for an interactive entertainment experience to almost unreachable heights. Solid Snake is one of the most beloved characters in the history of gaming, and this title is the ultimate homage to him. Kojima-san is our generation’s Homer, and Metal Gear Solid 4: Sons of the Patriots is his Odyssey. To put it simply, a modern classic.