Tuesday, June 22

Movie review - Metal Gear Solid 4

     After four straight weeks of Land Before Time, I just needed a break from bad movies and games. So today I'm reviewing one of the best movies I've seen in a while, Metal Gear Solid 4!

    MGS4 is an epic, action packed CGI movie. For some weird reason, this movie is only compatible with the PlayStation 3, but if you have that you shouldn't miss it. It's loaded with deep, memorable characters, plot twists, and well choreographed action sequences. The movie includes themes of age and death, a changing world, and machines controlling too much. The story can get a little too complicated at times, and it helps if you've seen the previous movies, but MGS4 does a good job at explaining itself.

     The movie starts with a monologue by the main character, a war-torn old man named Solid Snake, who talks about how war has changed. War is now more controlled than ever before, and a computer program has pretty much taken over. While he is monologing, he is riding a jeep with a bunch of rebel soldiers resisting this movement. They are soon ambushed by a bunch of giant leg creatures with guns mounted on their heads...I don't know, they're just awesome. They take out a bunch of the other rebels and...wait, you gain control of Solid Snake? I thought this was a movie! Oh, so this is why it only works on the PS3, it's actually a game for the PS3.

     Actually, Metal Gear is a series of games, but MGS4 has more movie time than it has gameplay time. Don't get me wrong, the movie parts are very well produced, and the story is one of the deepest I've ever been told, but it's also very complicated and full of plot twists like I mentioned earlier. Some of the movie scenes are pretty long, but if for some reason you don't want to watch them and just want to play, you can easily skip them.

     Gameplay wise, it's a action-stealth game. This means that the game strongly encourages you to sneak around and avoid enemies whenever possible, however you can choose to shoot your way through everything if you'd rather. There are tons of weapons available on the battlefield and most of them are customizable. Throughout the first two acts of the game, you are in the middle of a war zone, either trying to avoid both sides, or fighting alongside one side when that will help you complete your mission. Telling you anything about the rest of the game would spoil something, trust me.

     You play as Solid Snake throughout the whole game. He is aging at an advanced rate, for reasons that are explained part way through the game. Despite his early old age, he can still move around and hold his own in battle. Your goal is to stop Liquid Ocelot, who is legitimately trying to take over the world. Yeah, I know that kind of sounds cliche, but in this game he only has to take over a computer system which kind of already does control the world. They have a long history of rivalry together (since some time before the first Metal Gear Solid game.) There are so many other important characters that it's not even worth mentioning the rest, but most of them have interesting connections, and they all have their own little story within the main story. It doesn't feel like a scrambled mess however, which makes them all feel real one way or another.

     Graphically, this game is very strong (some of the best available this generation). The environments look very impressive at times, the whether effects are convincing, and the animation is top-notch. Facial animations and expressions are pretty much perfect, although in this day and age that's not overly difficult to accomplish. Overall, this is a well produced title.

     Alongside the strong graphics is the sound, which is nearly perfect in it's own right. The sound effects for the various weapons and machines make you feel like your really on the battlefield. The voice acting is amongst the best there is, and makes you feel what's really going on. And then there's the soundtrack. When your sneaking around, there usually isn't any music playing, however one of your items is an I-pod, which you can use to listen to any songs you find around the battlefield. I never used this feature, so I can't comment on it. What I do know is that the music that accompanies the more intense moments in the game compliments them well, whether it's a mix of rock and middle-eastern, or taking the older themes from the series and giving them an epic remix...it all just works.

     That's not to say there isn't anything I don't like in this game though. The thing that bothered me the most is the close quarters combat controls. Cramming all attacks onto one button hampers close quarters combat significantly. Another thing is that even when there are so many long cutscenes, there doesn't seem to be a menu where you can watch all of them...you can only watch the mission briefing scenes at the beginning of each act. Since many of cutscenes contain important story elements, having the ability to re-watch them would be handy. Otherwise, I can't think of much to complain about.

    Overall this is a very impressive title. The production value is amazing, the story - while overly complicated at times - is amazing, the gameplay is satisfying...everything about this game is impressive. It certainly doesn't hurt that it's not The Land Before Time related. There is a free demo on the Sony Network, so you can also try out this interactive movie for yourself.

Two word review -  Epic win

    So why did I review this game instead of the new "Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker?" Simply put, I don't have it...yet.

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