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Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots Review

Metal Gear Solid 4 is a tough game to review for a few reasons:
1. I am a huge MGS fan so my expectations are very high
2. MGS4 is split over 5 distinct and different acts
3. MGS4's action and gameplay peaks early at about act 3

Please take a look at all my metal gear solid coverage and impressions to get a better idea of the gameplay elements, graphics, etc. that went into this review.

Gameplay: 10/10
Pros: The gameplay of Metal Gear Solid has always been impeccable and this latest version updates the controls and amps up the action. Gameplay drastically changes with each act introducing something new (from Mech Arcade action to motorcycle getaways). The new "combat zone" sneaking missions are extremely fun, flexible, and multifaceted. Metal Gear Online is a great addition that adds a ton of replayability, longevity and value to the product.
Cons: As a long time Metal Gear fan, I wish that there was one act that focused solely on sneaking into a military installation against human guards. I think this could've easily been achieved in Act 4 to give long time fans what they wanted. The final acts are also extremely short with a story I did not find as engaging as previous titles. Without MGO, Gameplay would certainly be docked some points.

Graphics: 10/10
Pros: The Graphics are hands down the best looking visuals of any video game out there and truly show off the Playstation 3's power. What is even more impressive is the excellent animation, high framerates, in-game cutscenes, and diversity of level visuals. A true Technical achievement likely to be unsurpassed for a few years.

Sound/Music: 10/10
Pros: The Music is stellar and the game includes a large selection of tracks that encompass the whole Metal Gear Series. The sound is also impeccable and features dolby digital surround sound that truly makes you feel like you are on the battlefield. The Voice Acting is also very strong...especially David Hayter and Quinton Flynn.

Cons: There is some lame scripting and bad voice acting / cutscenes that are just too dramatic or poorly executed.

Lasting Appeal: 10/10

Pros: Immediately after finishing the game, I wanted to play the campaign all over again. This speaks very highly of the incredibly enjoyable Acts 1-3 not to mention the ranks you earn and items you unlock. The campaign clocks in around 20 hours and you'll want to finish the story and see what lies next throughout the single player. There is also the fantastic addition of Metal Gear Online which is a much improved and graphically stunning update to the Metal Gear Multiplayer found in Metal Gear 3: Subsistence.

Cons: The story just didn't capture me as much as Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater. Furthermore, I felt the boss battles (and bosses themselves) were superior in MGS3 all around with a few of the other best battles being in MGS2 and MGS1. Maybe it is not fair to compare a fantastic game to all of its previous fantastic iterations, but in many ways MGS4 is the most unlike all the other games in the series and that is not always a good thing.

Average: 100%

Tilt: -1.00%

It may be unfair to expect the same from each Metal Gear game, but at the same time Metal Gear Solid 4 is just short of perfect. While each successive metal gear game improved on aspects of the previous title, Metal Gear Solid 4 is the first title to improve aspects of the game while making some missteps along the way. I would rank the story 3rd out of the 4 games in the series (Snake Eater, MGS1, MGS4, MGS2) and probably 3rd or 4th in Boss Battles. At the same time, Acts 1 and 2 offer some of the greatest innovations the series has seen and create some incredible moments...even if it feels a little un-Metal Gear. That's really the only flaw with Metal Gear Solid 4... it peaks too early...and as the game slows down in Act 4 it misses an opportunity to pay homage to fans of the sneaking, tranqing and trickery found in MGS1-3. Act 5 is pretty much a movie, which ends the whole thing on a sour note. All the negativity aside, Metal Gear Solid 4 is a gaming masterpiece. It is a graphical powerhouse and evolves the gameplay of Metal Gear immensely and opens it up more to the Western Market. While it has its shortcomings, It definitely makes you want to pop in the previous games into your playstation 3 and play them all over again...if only there was a graphically updated MGS1: Twin Snakes for Playstation...oh well, I'll just start with Metal Gear 2.

Verdict: 99%

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Metal Gear Solid 4 Impressions - Act 5


Well, a huge ship crashing into Raiden didn't kill him after all. He returns in Act 5 without arms to help out Snake once again. Act 5 is definitely the shortest (gameplay wise) and most disappointing act so far. Again, MGS4 misses its opportunity to create a "classic" sneaking mission on the arsenal gear ship. Basically if you tranq any Frog soldiers....caution mode insues... and if you get alert phase, it's just an all out war. The act really only consists of sneaking to one door, fighting a bunch of Frogs, fighting Screaming Mantis, crawling to the GW AI, and a culminates in a Brawl with Liquid.

The boss fight with Screaming Mantis is original and different than other boss fights which is nice, and Metal Gear throws completely new gameplay at your with a one-on-one street fight boss with Liquid. I have to admit that as the game began to come to a close, I started recollecting on past Metal Gear Boss fights, story arcs, and gameplay. It's a shame that this game starts with a bang and fizzles out. It doesn't help that MGS3: Snake Eater has a better & more involved plot either. I'm not going to critique the use of cinematics, since I watched them all and have always liked the stories and movies in the Metal Gear games. It's just surprising how drastically the gameplay in this game changes from locale to locale. That certainly wasn't the case with Metal Gear Solid 1, 2, & 3. On the one hand, it's really impressive that Kojima & friends spent the time to code this sections so expertly without feeling tacked on....on the other hand, I was left without a chapter that truly paid homage to the gameplay found in MGS1-3. So with Act 5, I am left with some disappointment...though I still have the Epilogue (probably all cinemas) to go. Look for a Review on Monday.

Metal Gear Solid 4 Impressions - Act 4

Well the new locales and diversity of graphics continue. Gameplay changes once again as well and focuses on sneaking and fighting mechanized opponents.

Act 4 takes us back to Metal Gear Solid 1 to Shadow Moses in pursuit of Metal Gear Rex. Act 4 has a lot of nostalgic moments, but the best was definitely when an old song from MGS1 kicks in as you journey through the snow to infiltrate the Shadow Moses Facility. I really enjoyed the music and atmosphere of this level and the snow effects are incredible. The cold frosts the screen, snowflakes stick to the camera, and winds kick up snow that greatly reduces your vision. As always the graphics are incredible.

Gameplay wise, this act was the most up and down for me. The boss battle with Crying Wolf is definitely the best Beauty and the Beast fight yet, but sneaking around the Shadow Moses facility would have been a lot better with a more traditional human security detail. I would've really liked an act that focused on the gameplay found in Metal Gear Solid 1 or 2 where you can sneak up behind troops and choke, tranq, or kill them. Instead, Shadow Moses is filled with Gekkos and Mantis 3 armed machines....It was a missed opportunity to give Metal Gear fans an act (in the same locale as the first MGS) with gameplay from the older titles.

The act does close with a battle against Vamp which had an interesting way towards victor.
Injecting Vamp with the NanoMachine Syringe stops his healing ability and leads to Raiden finally finishing him off. Act 4's deaths don't end there as Naomi and Raiden bite the dust before Liquid escapes on his Outer Haven Battleship/Sub. The gameplay does mix things up and keep things fresh by introducing a mech battle with Rex vs. Ray at the end of the chapter. The mech controls/battle is actually pretty damn fun and another highlight of the act.

Metal Gear Solid 4 Impressions- Act 3

-------SPOILER ALERT----
So Act 3 definitely takes MGS4 into both another unrevealed locale and featured practically no cutscenes featured in any of the trailers (minus the shot of Big Mama in the church) so beware of spoilers.

--------SPOILERS START HERE--------

So after finishing off Laughing Octopus in Act 2 and a daring escape w/ Drebin, Raiden, and Naomi, Snake departs for Eastern Europe in search of Big Mama who has the body of Big Boss who is the key to Liquid's plan. Eastern Europe pretty much looks like it was modeled after London. It even includes a dreary night time atmospheric. With each new act, Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots knocks your socks off with new graphical touches and effects.

Gameplay changed significantly for this act. It was a lot more similar to older Metal Gear Solid titles but still offered a new objectives. Your mission is to tail resistance soldiers to Big Mama's location. You help the Resistance Soldier along the way by taking out PMC troops searching for people breaking curfew. The level was actually a lot easier than others I thought. The level culminates with a Motorcycle getaway and a battle with Raging Raven. That's 2 Beauty and the Beasts down and 2 to go.

Metal Gear Solid 4 Impressions - Act 2

Well Act I pretty much closed with Liquid driving all the soldiers crazy as seen in another trailer. This led to the next mission briefing which featured a scared Naomi Hunter on a handheld camera.

Act 2 takes us to South America in search of Naomi Hunter. This locale is very reminiscent of MGS3: Snake Eater since it takes place in a jungle setting with facility outposts along the way. The highlight of this act definitely takes place during a rebel army and PMC shootout surrounding a Mansion. Stepping inside the mansion really shows off this games graphics once again. I have still found myself allying myself with the rebels/militia so that I only have to sneak past half of the baddies on screen. There were some great sniping spots coming up the mountain as well. Eventually, I found Naomi (and Drebin along the way) and she has divulged some more information on Snake's advanced aging and conducted some tests. How many acts does this game have? I hope quite a few. I am really impressed with the diversity of graphics and locales and have only played up to Act 2: Solid Sun. Gameplay just barely feels like Metal Gear, but I'm told that near the end it becomes more "classic" Metal Gear sneaking, which I'm looking forward to.

Metal Gear Solid 4 Impressions - Act I

I have fought the Frogs and lived to tell about it. That's about as far as I have made it into Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots campaign, so don't worry there will be no spoilers. In fact, I don't think I have seen a cutscene yet that hasn't been included in one of the trailers.

Let me start off by the negatives that immediately gave me a pang of doubt in MGS4. First is that the game must be installed on your system. This is a very big annoyance when you've been waiting for this game, but ultimately it doesn't take that long...but I have to nitpick. The real WTF moment for me has nothing to do with the game or its cutscenes. I have seen 3 (so far) live action pieces / cutscenes that should not have been put on the disc. 2 came up as I started my new game. 1 was a "Who wants to be a Millionaire" spoof where the answer to the questions were about the war economy. The other one was some weird ad with women shooting harpoons and being entangled by an octopus with a skull....WTF exactly. The other live action piece was much more digestable and just a simple scene of a frying pan, little girl's voice (possibly Sunny), and 2 eggs cracked and cooked. This scene popped up right as the "Act I" text came up.

My only complaint about the gameplay / cutscenes so far is that the jokes about Johnny "Akiba" of rat patrol go way too far. It's typical Kojima humor but it's a little too in the face (you'll see what I mean).

As far as gameplay and the rest of the game! MGS4 feels a lot different than it's predecessors and the scale/size of the maps are staggering. I have had to refer to my map several times and even gotten lost in the winding tunnels of a militia outpost. The warzone setting is incredible exciting and the Militia vs. PMC battle where I allied myself with the Militia and participated in their war has been a highlight that culminated in a PMC airstrike. Is this even Metal Gear? Yes it is and it's better than ever, because this immediately followed with the first "boss' battle against the Frogs. In typical, Metal Gear Solid Fashion, the battle with the Frogs is very similar to early boss battles that are just forced action/fight sequences (such as MGS gunfight with Meryl along your side). It's made even easier because you have Rat Patrol (Meryl again) gunning away with you.

...I'm on my way to find Liquid's camp now...more to come later.

Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots Released Tomorrow

Finally, the PS3 killer app is released tomorrow. Metal Gear Solid 4 is currently at 93/100 on Metacritic. Many of the reviewers are european magazines/websites, so hopefully when the US publications start reviewing it, the score will be pushed up some more. Needless to say, I'll be picking up my copy on Thursday and will be playing it fanatically until I beat it. I'll send some previews/impressions along my way and give a full review when I've sunk my teeth into it enough. I can't wait to shoot at some of the Beauty & Beast bosses above!

5 reasons why I returned Quake Wars Enemy Territory after ~30minutes

5. Graphics were bad...some original xbox games look better
4. Training taught to fail the first mission
3. I never was a Quake fan...and apparently never will be.
2. Clunky Controls
1. Gameplay sucked...there are sooo many FPS and all are better choices. Even if you like class based soldiers go with Team Fortress 2 over this dud.

Retro Review: Super Punch-Out!

I was not lucky enough to have played Super Punch-Out back in the early 90s when it was released. The reason I had no interest with the Punch-Out series was because:
1. I played the original Mike Tyson's Punch Out for NES and it was way too difficult for me at such a young age
2. It was not 2-player
Therefore I cannot really accurately give a score for how I remember the game to be. However based on some internet research, the average gaming press review at the time of release was about 83.5%

Back Then: 84%

Super Punch-Out is the last game of the series (one can only hope for a Wii/VC release) and definitely the best. It takes everything from the original Mike Tyson's Punch-Out! but improves on it: Better graphics, sound, controls...and gets rid of Mike Tyson. I discovered this game about 5 years ago in college and definitely was not an immediate fan. Punch-Out! has a relatively steep learning curve and plays differently than any other fighting boxing game that you may have played. The Player's character is extremely weak compared to the opponents and the game emphasizes memorization and timing. This initial difficulty is what kept me away from the series at a young age, but now it keeps drawing me back in. In the past couple weeks, I have found myself booting up Super Punch-Out! nearly every day for at least 1-2 bouts. In these days of Halo 3, GTA IV, etc., I think that says a lot about this older game. The game is extremely unique and different than any of the other games out there and offers a challenge without the player ever getting frustrated and giving up. It's an incredibly addicting game and the graphics, sound, etc. are all top-notch 16-bit pixel art so it stands the test of time well. The negatives are that there is no multiplayer of any kind and that you cannot choose different fighters, but it came before the age of online multiplayer so one can only hope that some one takes the time to revive this franchise and do it right.

Verdict Now: 91%