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300 Word Review – Metal Gear Solid 4:
Guns of the Patriots

Let’s clear one thing up: Hideo Kojima does not make games.

Kojima makes media products that incorporate games. They also incorporate animated movies, as well as motion graphic novels, as well as radio dramas. Calling them ‘interactive movies’ though would be like calling film ‘recorded dramatics’.

With that settled:

As a game, Metal Gear Solid 4 is an improvement over its predecessors. By making the game more of an action game the developers give the player a more tangible decision in how they’re going to navigate the battlefield: peacefully, violently, or a creative mix. This makes it a little easier to avoid ‘playing the game wrong’ than in previous installments. Unfortunately, the game still isn’t as snappy as it should be by now and learning the controls is tantamount to learning the oboe.

The long and frequent cutscenes, while beautiful and tasteful, feel archaic and prove once and for all that they will soon be a thing of the past. Metal Gear Solid 4 is probably about 50% slight- to non-interactive cinematic. This dooms Guns of the Patriots to be a monument to its past, as well as old video game motifs, rather than a signpost pointing the way forward.

All this being said, I loved Metal Gear Solid 4. Having followed the series from the beginning, this game gave me something that I hadn’t felt in a long while: closure.

I’ve often been disappointed when games have been given ambivalent endings in order to leave an opening for the inevitable, and interminable, sequels, or simply didn’t live up to the drama of their gameplay. For all its flaws Metal Gear Solid 4 succeeds at drawing the convoluted, often ridiculous, storyline to a close. Which means a lot to those if us who have been following it this whole time.

2 Comments

  1. Laura wrote:

    NYtimes article touching on the meaning behind Metal Gear Solid and the use of cut scenes:

    Link

    Sunday, June 22, 2008 at 9:38 pm | Permalink
  2. Charles Joseph wrote:

    Thanks for the link!

    It’s interesting to see the mainstream press taking the complicated question of non-interactivity in a video game a little more seriously than some enthusiast outlets are.

    Monday, June 23, 2008 at 4:45 pm | Permalink

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