My gaming pick of 2008 is none other than Hideo Kojima’s Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots (PS3). If you’ve read my contributions on the blog, you’d know that I’m a huge fan of the series and that this choice should come as no surprise to anyone. It had a lot of competition from games like Fallout 3, Grand Theft Auto IV, Gears of War 2, and Left 4 Dead, but in the end I thought MGS4 presented the most complete gaming package. MGS4 delivered on the massive amount of hype and was a worthy conclusion to Snake’s saga.
The game hits on all levels from the story, gameplay, graphics, music, voice acting, to the included Metal Gear Online. Furthermore, each act of the game played differently with Act IV standing as the single greatest example of fan service in videogame history. I’m not going to spoil it here, but no other level has hit me in a game like Act IV. Act III’s gameplay got a bit frustrating, but the story reveal at the end of it more than made up for the lacking gameplay.
To get ready for the game, I went back and played Metal Gear Solid 1 through 3 and had the story fresh in my mind going into MGS4. The thing that really stood out to me was that the story was actually emotional. I felt bad for the characters that died and happy for the characters that got their happy ending.
The game also offers a great amount of replayability, not only with different difficulty settings and countless ways to approach each fight, but with a solid online component that effectively translates Metal Gear Solid’s unique gameplay into a multiplayer arena, even with its convoluted account setup issues.
The First 15 Minutes of Metal Gear Solid 4
The game addressed many of the series’ problems by Westernizing the controls and minimizing lengthy codec conversations (except the ones with Drebin). Throw in the new and improved weapon system that has you buying and unlocking guns and the game gets more cohesive and better paced. Gone are the days of retreating from Sniper Wolf back to the first area of Metal Gear Solid to get the sniper rifle.
Yes, some of the cutscenes are long, but that’s what I love about Metal Gear Solid. It’s one of the few non-RPG franchises left that isn’t throwing everything toward immersive cutscenes that play out if you choose to look at them or a story that only unfolds if you read in-game emails that give backstory.
There were a few high profile games this year that just didn’t live up to the hype like Spore and LittleBigPlanet, but MGS4 delivered.