WARNING! METAL GEAR SOLID 4 SPOILERS AHEAD!
We have SPOILER TAGS. Use them.
Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns Of The Patriots is the final installment in the 21 year long series by Hideo Kojima and his team at Kojima Productions. The series is known for it's self dubbed "tactical espionage action" style of gameplay.
This... is my final mission...
What is Metal Gear?
Without sounding too much like a "fanboy", Metal Gear is at the forefront of cinematic gaming, and is the pioneer of the "stealth" genre. Featuring often "over-the-top" plots and characters, and incredibly dramatic cut-scenes, combined with tense "hide-and-seek" gameplay sections and innovative boss battles.
Well, what's the basic plot for MGS4 then?
Set in 2014, five years after Metal Gear Solid 2, MGS4 portrays a world where the restriction of military intervention on foreign soil has been eased, fueling the need for private military companies (PMCs) to fight proxy wars for business purposes. Nanotechnology has become prominent, both to enhance the capabilities and enforce the loyalty of mercenaries. The five largest of these PMCs are owned by a single mother company named Outer Heaven, which is operated by Liquid Ocelot. Amassing an army whose manpower rivals that of the United States, Liquid prepares to launch an armed insurrection. With the world once again in crisis, a rapidly aging and disillusioned Solid Snake is deployed into the Middle East by Roy Campbell to terminate Liquid. MGS4 will take place in five locations throughout the world, including the Middle East, South America and Eastern Europe.
Tell me more about the game play?
As I said, gameplay is mainly focused on Stealth, with a small hint of action, hence "Tactical Espionage Action". Basically, Metal Gear was created from the philosophy of "advance, without being seen by the enemy". If you're spotted, you'll more than likely find yourself completely surrounded, and will have to hide until things blow over. There are also many bosses scattered through-out each game.
Metal Gear Solid 4 pretty much retains the stealth element, but instead of infiltrating an enemy complex or jungle, you'll be infiltrating a battlefield, with a war raging around you. Taking the camo system from MGS3 a step further, Snake is equipped with OctoCamo which allows him to copy patterns and textures from any surface he comes into contact with. The game also features revised controls to compensate for the fact that this is set in a battlefield, making action sequences much easier. Stealth is now more of an option, rather than a necessity.
CQC, which was introduced in MGS3, is also expanded, featuring a much easier method of execution. Featuring "Gears Of War" style on screen button prompts, you can now disarm your opponent, do a full body check for extra items, and choke them unconscious. You can also perform the infamous "crotch grab".
What else is new?
The "Drebin Points" system, which is similar to that creepy merchant guy from Resident Evil 4. Basically, during gameplay, you can disarm enemies and take their weapon. You won't be able to use it though, thanks to a little something known as "ID Locks" which will lock down guns if it is being used by someone who is not authorized to use it. However thanks to our good friend Drebin, he can unlock these guns for you. Also, if you already own that weapon, it will be automatically sold to Drebin (with you keeping the ammo), and he will give you points for it. These points can then be used to unlock guns (as I just mentioned) and you can also buy new weapons and additional ammo, as well being able to purchase parts for guns you already have. For example, you can shove a grenade launcher onto the front of your rifle!
How many games are there in the series?
As far as "canon" is concerned, there are seven games in the series. However games like Metal Gear Ac!d, and Metal Gear: Ghost Babel are non-canon.
The games in the series, in chronological order, are:
Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater
Metal Gear Solid: Portable Ops
Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake
Metal Gear Solid
Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons Of Liberty
Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns Of The Patriots
However, the original Metal Gear games have pretty much been ret-conned to oblivion. You can get away with just playing MGS1, 2 & 3, but a lot of people would also recommend Portable Ops, as it does reveal some small details, which are important.
Will this game be easy on the "newbies"?
PSM3 magazine said that "roughly 70%" will fly right over the heads of newcomers. However, I have read reports of people playing this game without playing any of the other and enjoying the story very much. And since the gameplay has been pretty much revamped, there should be no worries there.
Well is there an easy way to catch up?
Yes. In America, you can purchase the "Metal Gear Solid: Essential Collection". I'm not American, so I'm not sure on prices, but I hear it's damn good value for money. It comes with Metal Gear Solid on 2 PS1 discs (meaning you'll have to pick up a PS1 Memory Card from somewhere, unless you have a PS3) and Metal Gear Solid 2 & 3 on two separate PS2 discs. Metal Gear Solid is also available on the Japanese Playstation Store and should hopefully be making it's way to the American one soon.
If you don't want to wait to play MGS4 you can always check out Gametrailer's Metal Gear Retrospective
But, I don't have a PS3... Lucky it's coming to the X-Box 360, huh?
Haha. Don't get your hopes up. Aside from the fact that Snake uses a SIXAXIS/Dualshock 3 controller in game to control Metal Gear Mk. II (his little robo-buddy), but another character is seen using a PSP and PS3 at some points. Also, Hideo Kojima himself has said that he's "fed up of being asked" about a 360 port. No PS3, No MGS4.
That's a shame... Guess I'll have to get a PS3 then...
If you really want MGS4, yes. Luckily, a bundle has been released!
What's this I hear about in-game advertising?
Yes, Metal Gear Solid 4 features a wealth of in-game advertising, including the Japanese energy drink Regain (seen above), Apple's popular iPod and Sony's own brand of Ericsson cell phones. Apple computers also appear throughout the game.
Also, in slightly related news, "Uniqlo" are creating a series of Metal Gear themed T-Shirts which are on sale now, I believe. They can be seen here.
My personal favourite is the "Kept you waiting, huh?" one.
Can I see some screenshots?
You can see some here. Be wary of spoilers
though, there's a pretty big one in there. If you've seen all the trailers though, than there's nothing to worry about.
I'm interested in Metal Gear Online. Can I talk about that in this thread?
This thread is more for Metal Gear Solid 4 as well as general Metal Gear Story discussion. However, head on over here
for the Metal Gear Online thread.
Snake... Your son will bring the world to ruin...
Your son... will save... the world.