Friday, June 20, 2008
Metal Gear Solid 4 first impression
From the moment Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots starts I knew that this would be something special and different. Eschewing the stealth approach of previous MGS titles, MGS4 opens with aplomb throwing you right into the middle of an intense battlefield - a showcase of Hideo's new 'No Place To Hide' approach, as well as the technological showcase of what a current-gen console like the PS3 was capable of. And yes Snake is still the old man he was confirmed to be some years ago and no last minute MGS2 style switch-a-roo (at least not within the two hours when I had the opportunity to play it), and playing as an old man has many disadvantages...
The first act of MGS4 is something that is not at all unique to modern video gaming. The setting is in a typical ravaged Middle Eastern setting where war is an on-going normality. The local militias are battling one of Liquid Ocelot's PMC (Private Military Companies) made up of standard conscripts and Gekko, a new generation of Metal Gear mechas. Littered in between are Hideo Kojima's trademark excessive use of cut scenes, which in my opinion, are what made this series so compelling. I am aware that near the end the cut scenes will tread towards over-excessive but I won't lie to you - I will be looking forward to those. The transition between pre-directed sequence to real time gameplay is so seamless, much more so than God of War.
The visuals are fantastic. If there ever was a game that one should use to promote high definition, this would be it. It was crisp, and the lack of overt-aliasing was pleasing to the eyes. Something that can't be said about GTA IV (which yes, I played a little bit of that too)... The graphics on the 32" Samsung 720p telly (not mine) is so good, I am convinced. Now I can't wait to jump on the high-def bandwagon but I will have to wait for 1080p screens to drop in price first, though I have to admit it is all so tempting to just order the special edition MGS4 PS3 pack now. Combined with the cinematography, storyline and script; Guns of the Patriots is the most film-like video game since, well, Snake Eater and such a title surely deserves the best telly.
Change is good and the way MGS4 takes stealth game forward by pushing you towards a none-linear battlefield, allowing you to choose exactly how you want to proceed, is beyond anything I've ever played. There is little doubt here if the rest of the game follows the same freshness as the opening first act (from what I was told, I was only halfway through the act one), this is definitely the game of the year.