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Metal Gear Solid 4

PSM3 visits Japan to finish MGS4, and give you unparalleled, spoiler-free, access to the most important next-gen game on any console [Part 1]

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One quibble: the opening 'tutorial' leaves gaps, so you'll need to visit the menu to hone your specialist skills. We blundered through the first 30 minutes with a vague feeling that we weren't 'doing it right', such is the haphazard nature of progress - in fact, it's much like the opening of MGS3, when you look back hours later and wish you knew then, what you know now. On the flip side, it provides incredible replay value.

Cool, calm, collected
When you retry the opening section alone - skills honed after completing the game -you realise the incredible depth, and emergent AI, in every scene. For example, when we were first attacked by the Gekkos in the tutorial, we ran in blind panic. Second time out, we ducked into cover, and hid - marvelling as the Gekkos engaged in real-time combat with the militia, exhibiting vicious AI.

Zoom

Even in the 'tutorial', there are multiple routes, allowing you to nab extra Rations, Ammo and Arsenal Compress items. In fact, we were emboldened enough to take on the Gekkos with a knife, succeeding in slashing the back of their organic legs and felling them, but lacking the firepower to finish them off. But - we swear it's possible, and even in that microslither of MGS4's epic sweep, it's a game in itself. Every scenario contains thousands of such moments, only with far more complex opportunities as your weapons, and the enemy, improve.

Close Quarters Combat (CQC) isn't introduced in the 'tutorial', and since this revolutionised your response to neutralising alerts in MGS3, it seems odd that MGS4 doesn't explain it properly - veterans beware, it's now on the u (shoot) button, not e. In fairness, the version we played, however polished and despite being playable to completion, is still being tweaked.

A major reason for us being allowed to finish the game, was to provide Kojima with feedback. We can't reveal the majority of our praise, or minor quibbles, to avoid spoilers - but we did recommend the opening section be made more transparent for newcomers. If the final game's an EA-style patronising debacle, then feel free to blame us.

[Check out part two of the article here, and pick up issue 100 of PSM3 for the full feature, including extra info and loads of awesome new screenshots].

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