Thursday, November 14, 2013

A Trip Down Memory Lane: Metal Gear Solid

Tonight is the night. At midnight stores across the United States will open their doors to those in wait of the PlayStation 4, and the wait will finally be over! Well, until then, let us get back to our mini series.

The year 2008 was actually a pretty good year for the PlayStation 3. It was around that time we really started to see games come out that players actually cared about, and quite a few of them were heavy hitters. The long awaited Metal Gear Solid 4 included.

When the Metal Gear series first came out, it was a hit. It was a game unlike any other at the time, and a lot of players fell in love with it. Rather than being based on guns and action, Metal Gear was a stealth game which told a deep story as well. After the success of the original 2D games, the series later on made its jump into 3D on the very first PlayStation. This title was called "Metal Gear Solid," and it took the series to a whole new level.

Just like with the early games, Metal Gear Solid was a stealth game with a strong focus on its story, but due to the PlayStation's power, the game was able to take everything much farther than before. It featured a massive open world like building to explore, there was a wide verity of tools and weapons at your disposal, and the game featured full voice acting with full cutscenes! Although it was an early PlayStation game, the game itself was as close as you could get to a movie, without actually watching a movie. The game's deep engaging story pulled players in, and it left them wanting more. Sadly, they would have a long wait.

It wasn't until many years later when the PlayStation 2 came out that fans would see a sequel; a controversial one at that. Just as one might expect, the game featured updated graphics, physics, the world was more detailed, and there was even new features such as a first person aiming mode. From the get go it became very clear that MGS2 was an improved Metal Gear Solid, but then, it happened. Less than an hour into the game fans found themselves playing as a new character named Raiden, and they were ticked. Raiden was the complete opposite of Snake in anyway. While Snake was a rough looking soldier, Raiden was a young guy with long hair, and one a lot of people mistook for a woman. He became the source of a lot of people's hate for the game, but overall, it really wasn't as bad as some people might think. In the end, Raiden actually did have an interesting story, and the game's gameplay was solid! Even so, a lot of people turned against it, and looked toward the future for home.

A few years later, that "hope" finally came. Metal Gear Solid 3 released on the PlayStation 3, and it took a step back in time. This time around players got to step into the shoes of "Big Boss" (the character that Snake from the original games was cloned from), and it also threw them into a completely new environment; the forest. The game had a strong focus on survival (you had to hunt for food, and even patch yourself up when you got hurt), it had a much larger focus on stealth, and it had a much more well refined storyline as well; one that is still considered to be one of the bests in video game history even today. Overall fans actually loved the game, but it did leave a lot of questions unanswered. So, once again the wait continued... The wait for MGS4.

When MGS4 released on the PlayStation 3, it was a huge event. The game continued the story of Solid Snake, but in a much older form. Snake had began aging rapidly, and it became very clear early on that this would be his last adventure.

Metal Gear Solid 4 was actually a major step up from the previous games in the series, but it did make a lot of changes that not all fans truly liked. This time around the game played a lot like a 3rd person shooter, with the "stealth" element being optional. If you wanted to run and gun your way through some areas you could, but by doing so it felt like you were missing out on a large section of the game. With Snake's new stealth suit, you could actually blend into almost any environment. By pressing up against a stone wall, Snake's suit would turn into stone, but it could then be reverted into a grass pattern by laying down in the grass below him. This feature really took the stealth of MGS to a whole new level, and it just felt wrong to ignore it. Then again, it also felt wrong to ignore the new gun features.

This time around guns could actually be picked up and sold for money, and in return you could spend your cash to upgrade your guns and equipment. Although it wasn't a major feature, it really was a nice that they let you pick your gun attachments, and customize Snake how you wanted him; it was a light RPG element which you just didn't see too often back then, and it was fun to play around with. Even so, if you were taking the stealth route through this adventure, it was a feature you might of had to ignore.

Besides the gameplay, Metal Gear Solid 4 had to step it up in the story as well. This game was released to tie everything from the past games together, and because of that it relied on great knowledge of them. Throughout the entire game references to the past would show up before you, and characters would bring up past events often as well. Overall the way the story carried itself was great for MGS fans, but new comers would have been completely lost. It doesn't help that most cutscenes lasted 30 minutes or longer.

In the end, Metal Gear Solid 4 was still a great game. Even though it changed a lot from previous entries, it was still a very nice conclusion to Solid Snake's adventure. Now sure, this game wasn't the end of the Metal Gear Solid series (just earlier this year Metal Gear Rising was released, and Metal Gear Solid V is due out next), but it did feel like it. Kojima didn't pull any punches, and the game went out with a bang; just like it should have.

Overall, MGS4 was just another game that made the PlayStation 3 worth owning.