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Cut Scenes of the Patriots

Posted by Kyro Sk On 2009-10-11 2 comments

Total Time: 39+ hours

Total Cutscene Time: around 15 to 16 hours, I lost track (that's an astonishing 38%)

Difficulty Setting: Naked Normal

Verdict: I really loved this game, even though in places I was bored as shit and the story really didn't make a ton of sense. I guess that's going to require some explanation, so even though I started with my verdict let's back it up and take a look at some of the details.

First off, I think there is a handful of main things you have to talk about when doing an analysis of MGS4.

Sure, you can talk about polygon counts or the use of Blu-Ray or system exclusivity, but who really gives a f*&$ about that nonsense; this is where it's at...

Tragic Story
I think MGS4 is best described as a tragedy. I absolutely loved the way this story was emotionally framed. Even though I literally "lost the plot" at a few spots (see my Q&A a bit further down), it was clear that Snake was dying and at no point did I feel assured that the power of the leading character would see him through to a victorious conclusion. This was a refreshing change of pace from the usual: good guy wins, gets the girl, walks away into the sunset (usually rich and/or powerful).

Focus on Cut Scene
More than any other game in history, MGS4 makes extensive use of the age old cut scene. It's hard to imagine, but this is a game where at some point in a cut scene you are going to say: "WTF is going on here? didn't I buy a game?", and you'll be right. That said, most of it is top notch and very engaging - except for some of the Drebin voice only sections whici I'll proudly admit I skipped right through a couple of times.

Mixed Gameplay
It's hard to say what this game is. Action? Sure it's got action. Espionage? Yes, actually there were lots of situations where stealth and avoidance produced more effective results than direct combat. Romance? Ahh.. well, sorta, it was. You don't get to play that part of the game sadly, but there are these weird romantic sub-plots all over the place. I'm not sure how you'd make that sort of thing playable without it being juvenile or cheesy. The one title tag that really feels like it has no meaning is "Tactical". Honestly, this game is no more or less tactical than hundreds of other games out there that don't have tactical in the name (try any hockey game, they are almost all more tactical by default, but don't brag about it - can you imagine? NTHL 2010? ridiculous).


Q: Why can't the storyline make more sense?

A: It's a Metal Gear game: there is a lot of lost in translation going on and a ton of game history to try to keep straight. If you want it all to make sense, go back in time 20 years and play each game in it's entirety, then go download the MGS4:Database from the Playstation Store, finish the game on one of the higher difficulties, then read all of the database.

I can't be bothered to do all of that, I finished the game on normal difficulty and missed plenty of earlier games, so I'm going to have to live with the fact that I didn't completely catch all of the weird references to Hound-Die, or Fox-Trot or Revolver Oscilloscope or whatever. So sue me. The complexity seemed more real to the game characters than to me, and I enjoyed watching them go through the drama. When the game finally ended, I felt like I had just watched an entire season of a TV Show, and at 39 hours or whatever it's basically the same length as one.

Q: Is the extensive use of cut scene a strength or a weakness of this game?
A: I hate to answer a question with a question (especially when I asked the first question) but I think the only way to figure this out is to ask yourself (once you've finished the game): would it have been a better experience without all of that in there? In my opinion, the game was made far better by the additional story background and attention given to each character's emotional state; even secondary characters were given lots of showtime.

Q: Does the world need a MGS5?
A: I don't think it does. Here's why: as I said above, the story is a mess with 2 decades of history and tons of characters. From what I can tell, this game achieves as much coherency as can be expected in such extreme circumstances. I would say they should leave this franchise with MGS4 as the crowning achievement of a very complete gaming experience. I know there is a hand held MGS of some sort that is imminently arriving on the PSP and that's fine. I doubt I'll be playing it though, I really feel like this story is concluded.

If you have a PS3, I highly recommend you go play this game when you can find 40 hours to do so. Really, just take a week off of work and play it end to end in a single week. Or play the long game - I stretched it out over 4 months (maybe that's why I had trouble with some story) and really loved it.