So I've had a 80 GB MGS 4 PS3 Bundle since it was released and I still haven't quite finished the game. When it comes to beating games, I have a terrible track record. To put insult to injury, I've never beaten a Metal Gear Solid game despite owning all 4 of them.
Now that everyone has tossed their tomatoes at the screen, I am going to proceed with a brief review of the first 3 acts of the game. I realize the game has been out for a while now, but be warned there might be SPOILERS.
--------- SPOILER WARNING -------------- SPOILER WARNING -------------------- Act I
: Compared to other MGS games, the controls are improved but still not easy to learn and quite hard-core. After recently listening to a 1-Up Yours podcast in which one of the American producers on the game stressed on how this game was made to ease players into how to play a Metal Gear game, I think they have truly failed in this respect. The controls are still kind of confusing and while the graphic still images reminding one how to do context-sensitive actions such as hopping over ledges or dangling from ledges help, I would argue things could have started with a VR tutorial. The Middle East setting reminds me too much of Call of Duty 4, although the MGS humor and plot start to pick up a bit towards the end of the Act. The Gecko Mechs remind me a lot of ED-209 from Robocop in their stumbling movements and deep grunts. Act 2
: So far, this has been the most fun of the game for me. The initial area has a sizeable chunk of gameplay (sizeable gameplay being 30 minutes!) and the boss fight with Laughing Octopus scared the crap out of me... There was something about the synthized voice, echoing laughter, and the music that made me break out into a cold sweat. Drebin's post boss fight origin stories remind me a bit of the short text stories in Lost Odyssey, although they are not nearly as verbose. Much like the Gecko sequence in Act I, there are several parts in cut-scenes that look awesome that could have been really fun to play, but instead are non-interactive. I know this is a staple of the franchise, but given the lack of gameplay later in the game, a more balanced cut-scene to game ratio would have been preferable. Act 3
: After a brief cut-scene setting up the scenario, things get quite hard in a stealth section that has players tracking an undercover rebellion member on the run in a European city. You have to be so precise with the controls to not alert your target and knock out enemy soldiers that it gets frustrating in the same way a Splinter Cell game does. The boss sequence this time around is not as memorable, but fighting in a destructible environment is a sound concept. The cut-scene at the end is very dramatic and leaves things on a cliffhanger.
Mission Briefings: The mission briefing sequences are way too long. I understand some of them have character development between Otacon, Snake, Naomi, and whomever else they may be talking to, but Kojima uses 2000 words where 20 would do. My view on Metal Gear is similar to that of the Xenosaga franchise--all too brief moments of fun gameplay sandwiched inbetween long cut-scenes that tell a story that gets more compelling as the game goes on.
In other words? The Metal Gear Solid franchise is an interactive anime
. There's nothing wrong with that, but I struggle with the concept of how enjoyable the game parts are considering their brief length. I enjoy the game and am glad to have a PS3, but it's not going to win newcomers over to the series.