Retrospective: Metal Gear Solid 4 Remembered

Posted on Features

‘Retrospective’ is a new feature that I would like to introduce to you guys that will cover video games from the past. Hopefully, I will be able to make this a weekly feature. For now, I want to concentrate on games from this current generation of consoles as new consoles will be released later this year, bringing the curtains down on the PS3 and Xbox 360 era (technically, the Wii too). Game developers seem to be enthusiastic about entering a new era for consoles, thus I really don’t expect the PS3 and Xbox 360 to receive many games after 2014. With this in mind, I’d like to look back at some games that people should have played from this current generation. They will all be good games in one way or another (keeping in mind that ‘good’ is subjective). For the first retrospective game, I’ll be covering Metal Gear Solid 4.

As an opener, I feel it necessary to state that in order to fully enjoy Metal Gear Solid 4, you would have needed to have played the other Metal Gear Solid games in the series. There’s no doubt in my mind that if you enter MGS4 without that background knowledge, not only will you be mightily confused, you might be turned off by the game’s heavy story-telling moments. Let’s face it, even some MGS fans have problems piecing together the story behind the MGS games, so you have to expect others will have a problem too. That’s not the only problem though. MGS4 relies heavily on nostalgia. To appreciate MGS4 at its finest, you kind of have had to of been there from the beginning.

Nostalgia – Metal Gear Solid 4

In that sense. while I encourage those new to the MGS universe to play the games in order before playing MGS4, that nostalgia factor will likely still be missing from those people. That’s kind of obvious, as it has taken nearly 10 years going from MGS1 to MGS4. Even longer if you take into account the original Metal Gear games on the SNES. Nostalgia like that can’t be replicated without being there from the beginning.

That said, I still feel that MGS4 is a great game. The nostalgia factor merely pushes the game higher. The whole game is divided into 5 acts. The first 2 acts are kind of standard Metal Gear Solid levels, featuring a lot of sneaking around and intruding into hostile territories. The game did provide an alternative method of simply gunning down everything in sight, but that was for the more easily frustrated amongst us. The story wasn’t that heavy in these early sections, but it was important nonetheless.

Act 3 is a mixed baggage. The first half of act 3 is probably the worst part of the game. Another ‘sneaking’ mission begins the act, but it feels much less refined and instead feels forced onto you. It was also very slowly paced. The second half though, after a major information dump with the plot occurs, is a lot more hectic and fun. It’s one of those weird moments where cinematics and gameplay come together well. I loved the motorcycle chase scene. Not only because you were shooting from a motorcycle, but also because you could change the camera to look at the chase from different perspectives. It was gold.

Best Act – Metal Gear Solid 4

Act 4 and 5 finish off the game. Act 4 is probably my personal favourite act in the game. Some major spoilers here, but this is a retrospective look at a game that came out in 2008, so this is the only warning you’ll get. Skip to the next paragraph to avoid major spoilers. Anyway, act 4 features a return to Shadow Moses, where the events of MGS1 took place. This is where the nostalgia factor strikes home real bad. I really did like MGS1, and returning to the scene of that game was immense. Doubly so when the opening sequence utilized the old animations/visuals of MGS1. I even enjoyed the gameplay of this section, as dealing with the robotic guards felt similar to how we played MGS1 all those years ago with lesser A.I.s. The boss battle that occurs in this act is one of my favourites too. It really rekindled memories of Sniper Wolf. Mounting Metal Gear Rex was also a great moment, as was Liquid’s ‘Foxdie’ ploy. Act 5 kept the pace and the intensity that act 4 brought up. You knew things were headed for a conclusion and the game really did deliver some memorable ending scenes. Old Snake struggling through a microwave-esque area whilst Meryl and Johnny fended for their lives is simply unforgettable.

We have to talk about Liquid Ocelot too. I haven’t made much mention of the bosses in Metal Gear Solid 4, but there were plenty and the majority were pretty memorable. The beauty and the beast squad have some interesting backstory too, my favourite being Laughing Octopus. Liquid Ocelot is the final boss though, and like most MGS final bosses, your battle with him is another memorable moment in MGS history. You go back and forth with Liquid in a mano-a-mano fight. Even ’til the end, Liquid is a thorn in your side.

From a storytelling perspective, I found the parts that referenced events in MGS1 (or story plots that branched out from MGS1) to be the best parts of MGS4. The story parts that referenced MGS2 were the weakest parts. Not so much stuff involving Raiden, but stuff involving the convoluted ‘The Patriots’ plot point. I never did like ‘The Patriots’ angle, although I will admit it was handled and brought together well in MGS4. On the gameplay front, I was honestly fine with what was served up. There were a lot of cinematic moments that certain people like to assume is a negative, but I’m more than happy with the final product.

Thus ends my retrospective analysis of Metal Gear Solid 4. It still remains my favourite game of this current generation of consoles. Most of that is due to the nostalgia it brings with it, but it is a great game in its own right anyway. One of the biggest impacts of MGS4 on me was that it made me love MGS1 all over again. That’s just brilliant, and I now see MGS4 as MGS1’s true sequel.

It’s not my favourite game of all time though. Maybe I’ll have a chance to cover that particular game another time. I should also mention that I realise many will miss out on MGS4 simply because it is exclusive to the PS3. This is a shame, but hopefully lowering prices for current generation consoles will tempt more people to buy a PS3 and thus, Metal Gear Solid 4.