ĎWar has changedí, Snake tells us in gravelly tones at the beginning of the final entry in Hideo Kojimaís much-revered series. ĎID-tagged soldiers carry ID-tagged weapons. War has changed.í
If anybody was in any doubt of Metal Gear Solid 4 sticking to its roots, this first cut scene will have them reassured, or disappointed. For the Metal Gear series has always been incredibly divisive among gamers; some love its sprawling cut scenes and ridiculously complex plot-lines, whereas others find it overreaching, and think the cut scenes are far too long to warrant waiting for them to end, so one can begin playing. Most reviews of MGS games contain the text Ďthis wonít change your mind if you didnít like the others,í but on this occasion, Iím not entirely sure if thatís true.
New Ways to Play
Metal Gear has been revamped. If you hated MGS3ís insane controls, you might find something you like here. If you hated MGS2ís Ďsneak or dieí attitude, you might be able to stomach this one. Because MGS4 is all about your way of playing. And this is maybe the reason itís got gamers and journalists so excited. You can play it as a First Person Shooter, a cover based Third Person Shooter, a traditional stealth action game, or you can be a ghost, moving from one area to the next unseen, leaving only a trail of unconscious soldiers as proof of your presence. The game gives you a staggering amount of freedom to simply play how you want, and itís all the better for it.
But is the gunplay good enough that youíll want to abandon sneaking forever? It certainly is. Pressing L1 in MGS4 will move the camera into an over the shoulder viewpoint, not unlike the camera angle used in Resident Evil 4. From there, youíre free to move around, zoom in, go into first person mode or prone for a better shot. Itís refreshing, and any MGS 1, 2 or 3 fan will feel as though they have been released from the shackles the previous games kept them in when it came to combat. The gunplay here is superb, and is good enough to rival many combat-focused titles.
The sneaking remains unparalleled. Itís now given even more scope for experimentation thanks to Snakeís new Octocamo; an all-purpose camouflage device that will allow you to blend into the environment around you simply by staying still. It can lead to some wonderfully intense moments, as guards round corners and face you just as you blend into the floor. Stealth is also enhanced thanks to the Metal Gear Mk. II: a remote controlled, mini Metal Gear. You can use it for reconnaissance, and it can give any guards you scout out a nasty electric shock, clearing your path further.
No Pros and Cons at this time