Well, the timing of me playing Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots could not be any poorer. Giant Bomb is gearing up (pun totally intended) for their next neck-stab at Metal Gear Scanlon, and, as with previous playthroughs, I like to experience it all first and then enjoy watching Dan and Drew figure things out on their own. Unfortunately, from this point on in the series, I’ve not touched any of the subsequent games, and so it is extra imperative that I see how Old Snake fairs before anyone else. Alas, I’m about to head out of town, and I only just finished the first Act, with many more hours to go, which means I’ll have to barrel through it all as soon as possible upon my return to New Jersey.
My biggest gripe so far with Old Snake’s revenge-driven plight against Liquid/Revolver Ocelot has to do with items, specifically the number of them you pick up in Act 1 alone. It is staggering and overwhelming, and all I found myself doing was ignoring the majority of guns and non-weapon items and sticking to the tried and true arsenal of Snake’s previous adventures. Like the tranquilizer gun and cardboard box, or, in the case of the Middle East, a deadly drum can. I’m also not completely sold on the item of earning points for picking up duplicate weapons, which you can spend through Drebin 893, a black market arms dealer. So far, I bought a sniper rifle, used it once, and haven’t looked back.
Amazingly, despite the epic scope and constant what-the-eff moments in the series, I can summarize the plot of Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots in a single sentence. Here we go. Shortly after learning that he only has a year-long lifespan because of Werner’s Syndrome, Snake is given a mission by Colonel Roy Campbell to assassinate Liquid in the Middle East. Naturally, from there, things get crazy. I’ve run into some familiar characters, like Otacon and Meryl, as well as met some new, fairly untrustworthy sorts. Namely–Drebin and his monkey.
Gameplay picks up and remains constant from Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater, with players now assuming the role of an aged Solid Snake. Lovingly called Old Snake. He still uses stealth, close quarters combat, and traditional gun mechanics. Most aiming with a gun is via an over-the-shoulder angle, but thankfully there’s an optional first-person view via the toggle of a button, which I found extremely handy when aiming with the tranquilizer gun. Basically, it’s the same ol’ Metal Gear I’ve been playing this last year and change, with one big change–old bones.
Welcome to the Psyche Meter. Basically, psyche is decreased by non-lethal attacks and influenced by battlefield psychology. Stressors, such as temperature extremes, foul smells, taking damage, and being stalked by the enemy, increase Snake’s stress gauge, eventually depleting his psyche. This then affects Old Snake’s ability to aim, more frequent back pain, and a higher possibility of him passing out upon receiving damage. There are a few methods for restoring psyche–eating, drinking, smoking, reading an adult magazine, or making a Codec call to a certain someone I will not name to keep this spoiler-free. All that said, I’ve found everything pretty manageable, but please also note I’m playing on the standard difficulty, only dying a few times due to not paying attention to the health meter and equipping a ration in time.
As I expected, I have a lot of questions about Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots. Like, what’s up with Meryl and her team? In my playthrough of Metal Gear Solid 1, I was unable to endure the torture sequence and save her, but I guess the canon outcome is that she lived. Hmm. Also, um, at the start of Act II, one of the Beauty and Beasts Corps, a team of female PMC operatives in mechanized suits, took on the visage of Old Snake in a way that did not sit well with me. Lastly, how come Rat Patrol’s “Akiba” was unaffected by Liquid’s mind-controlled gas? I’m sure the answer is “because he shits his pants,” but part of me hopes there’s more to the man than that. Guess I’ll find out…in a few weeks. Until then, Old Snake and friends.