All legends must end. Such was the tagline for the game in the trailers, but I think most of what was legendary ended with MGS3.
Plot To explain the plot in detail would be massive spoilers and would substitute as a college senior thesis, suffice it to say, Snake, Otacon and the Colonel are hot on the trail of Liquid after his disappearence from the Big Shell incident.
I must say, the game play is an interesting blend of MGS3 stealth, and modern FPS controls. MGS4 eschews the typical control scheme for something a little more enabled for gunplay. It programs everything quite well, and maps a lot of environmental actions to a central action key (triangle).
The Octocamo, snake's main uniform, will take the hue of those around it, which is an interesting change from dozens of different uniforms.
The arsenal arrays literally over a hundred different weapons ranging from the standard issues (M4's, M9's, Mk23's and the like) to truly unique gun geek easter eggs (like the flintlock rifle, or the affinity for the entirety of H&K's catalog)
The controls are [fairly] smooth, only suffering in some parts when you want to hug up against a wall, and forwhatever reason you are too far/close/verticle/horizontal to trigger the action toggle.
My biggest complaint is in how Konami's own hype machine boasted how new the combat would be. Each soldier supposedly has an emotional predisposition which is visited on the battlefield. Soldiers will be scared, pumped up, or depressed, and allegedly, this would make a difference in the game. Not only is it nearly impossible to affect, but it is only really featured in the first act.
Similarly, the "moral" dynamics of choosing to aide, or not aide a side of a conflict are only seen in the first two acts.
All of these things that were toted as being new and revolutionary, like the expansion card in Perfect Dark, or the Geomod from Red Faction, are actually surprisingly limited in their scope.
Sights and Sounds
A+ on weapon sounds detail. A+ on military manuevers and detail.
However, having lauded it, I have to complain about what everyone else is complaining about: the cut-scenes.
We simply do not need forty-five minute cut-scenes. MGS4 was in a hurry to tie up all of its loose ends, and did so at the sacrifice of actual time behind the controller. The only good news is that they have virtually eliminated codec conversations in their previous form, and have made them at least a little more bearable, the few that did stick around.
Perhaps it is expectation, perhaps it is precedent, but as solid (hur hur) as MGS4 was as a game, MGS3 still trumps it in my mind. MGS4 has wonderful gameplay, and a lot of Easter Eggs, but it borders on being a little bit too self-referential, especially when it does not have to be. It ties everything together in a way that seems to be convoluted for the sake of being convoluted, and goes out of its way on several occasions to tie in one more joking reference to one of the first games.
Final Verdict: 8.7/10
Would you recommend the product? Yes
Price you paid? None indicated
The Bosses are tough, the Characters Alive and All in All
a very very good buy. not only to the MGS fans, but to all.