It’s not a secret that the Metal Gear Solid series is one of my favorites videogame series, I’ve even mentioned it here, in this blog a few times.
Recently, Konami and Kojima released worldwide the fourth (actually there’re are a few side stories / games in the series, but this is the 4th in the canon of MGS) and probably the most expected and desired game in the series. This is the first MGS for a new generation console, in this case, an exclusive for the PS3.
Kojima had been teasing us for the past two years with trailers and screenshots of MGS4, and even last month the question among gamers still was “Is it as good as it looks?”. Well, the answer is: it’s even better! If you’re not a fan or know the series, this is not a regular game where you’re presented to a universe and play along. MGS4 is the final chapter of an epic story and it demands that you know all that’s behind. You get to know old characters and new ones as well, you can play the entire game without knowing who Solid Snake is, but MGS4 is like a movie that’s part of a trilogy, if you didn’t watch the other episodes you won’t enjoy it properly. You get some very well placed flashbacks during the game to help understand the plot, but prior knowledge of the series is advised.
That said, let me tell you that MGS4 is definitely the game of the year for the PS3. The graphics are superb, the full Dolby Digital sound is breathtaking and the plot, well… as I said, it’s the best this game can offer. The gameplay is good but with a high learning curve, still, while this is still a sneaking undercover game, you can pick a different path of action and start dumping ammo on your enemy. I advise you to master both methods because the game will demand both at certain stages.
I could write a full review of this game, but that’s not the point of this post. You can get very well written reviews on IGN or Gamespot. I want to point out a few coolness points on MGS that I wasn’t expecting.
This first is the branding effort you’ll see during the game. Kojima’s team designed some clever brands that are placed in the game, either for products / services (you’ll understand when you play the game) but perhaps what will get your attention at first, is the heavy product placement.
Besides advertising and to give a more realistic feeling to the game, certain brands and product will be available for you to interact, like the Re-Gain powerdrink you can use to get some energy boost for Snake or a Playboy Magazine that you use to lure and distract enemies (and take a peek at the centerfolds yourself).
Still, the big champion of product placement in MGS4 is… Apple! You’ll notice quite in the beginning of the game, when you’re being contacted by Otacon, his office is crammed with Apple hardware, from Cinema Displays to Mac Pro’s, you’ll spot them in a glimpse. Though this could be just a nod to Apple, the most screaming product placement ever in a game is the iPod that Snake has in his personal items, that can be used during the missions like a real iPod. You can control it like you would control an iPod in the real life, through an interface on the screen. The iPod comes loaded with podcasts and the soundtracks from previous Metal Gear Solid games, and you can find more tracks during the game as well as download more tracks from the Internet.
Metal Gear Solid 4 is a great game, no doubt about that, but it uses a kind of in game marketing that the videogame industry is eager to explore for some time now. I don’t care for in game ads and product placement, as long as it’s done tastefully and with some brains. Let me tell you that playing MGS4 while listening to a podcast via Snake’s iPod is a different but pleasant experience
Closing down this long post: Metal Gear Solid 4 – Recommended! Even with all the product placement and virtual iPods in the mix