An ironic representation of how some fans felt after playing through Metal Gear
Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots.
In Defense of Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots
By Ravi Singh
Posted on May 13, 2010
Some of you are wondering why Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots needs a
"defense" at all. The game is one of the most critically acclaimed video games
of all times, getting perfect scores from numerous publications internationally
and winning a shit-ton of awards. The game is often considered to be one of the
best video games of all time, often appearing on lists with the likes of The Legend
of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. In terms of sales, it is currently the top selling
PlayStation 3 title. Why the fuck, you ask, am I wasting your time defending a
game that's got it all?
The rest of you are probably shocked because of the author; it's no secret that
I'm not too fond of Guns of the Patriots. My views might be contrary to the mainstream's
but it's actually far more appreciative of Guns of the Patriots than a good portion
of the fanbase is. This itself is strange as my opinion that any canon game after
Sons of Liberty shouldn't even exist has caused me to go against the grain with
nearly every fan of the series since 2004. Indeed, along with the fact that it
was an unnecessary installment to the canon, there are hundreds of other
reasons why Guns of the Patriots shouldn't have been made. That said, the game
hardly constitutes a fiasco.
METAL GEARS OF WAR HAS CHANGED?
Metal Gear has changed. While change is a natural thing there comes a point
where changes make something completely different than it once was. Despite
the numerous additions to gameplay, Sons of Liberty still felt like Metal Gear
Solid. Then Snake Eater comes, grabs Snake, puts him in a jungle and with every
installment since, it just hasn't felt the same. The removal of the Soliton
Radar might be the culprit. Maybe it's the usage of a camouflage index. Perhaps
it's the all-new and revamped START menu where you place items and weapons into
Press START. Go to the Camouflage menu. Select face paint. Select uniform.
Exit. Move a foot. Repeat. MODERN GAMING IS AWESOME!
Next to Guns of the Patriots though, Snake Eater is practically a 3D Metal
Gear 2: Solid Snake. The START menu is even more expansive,
being equipped with an iTunes-like shop for guns and ammunition. The camouflage
system is back and this time you can automatically camouflage yourself with
your surroundings like a god damn iguana. The Soliton Radar is gone, being replaced
with a radar that is a mix of the different radar-like devices in Snake Eater--if
you have the SOLID-EYE equipped.
The traditional "cinematic" camera has been removed and players are forced
to use the "modern" camera with the right-control stick. The controls have been
completely revamped to enable players to play the game like a typical third
person shooter. If the story and characters had been different, you would barely
see anything that can be identified as "Metal Gear" early in the game.
It's still a stealth game though. On most of the difficulties, including the
"Big Boss Hard" difficulty and in the earlier acts it could be considered easier
to play the game like a Gears of War title. Likewise any newcomer to the series
expecting to learn some basic sneaking tips found the Virtual Range to pretty
much be a shooting range to test out weapons and items. Still, the game does
throw a wrench in the average action game fan's experience.
WTF IS THIS GAY SHIT I FUCKIN WANNA PWN EVERYTHING ON TEH SCREEN FUCK U
When playing a third-person shooting game, you really just want to get
past waves of enemies and get to the goal. You don't want to have to be
concerned with how stressful the situation can be. Nor would you want to
be worried about how hot the beaming sun feels on your back. The
introduction of the Psyche Gauge slams
on the breaks when it comes to typical action gameplay that Guns of the
Patriots alludes to prefering over stealth gameplay.
"...as you play and you have to worry about these things, you start
to get a sense of what mental health care means on the battlefield."
Even the controls, which feel closer to a typical third-person shooter
than a traditional Metal Gear game, creates an obstacle for the trigger happy.
It was actually easier to run around throwing grenades and
running-and-gunning in the previous titles than it is in Guns of the Patriots, where throwing
grenades now requires manual aiming and shooting forces Snake to move slowly
even with AUTO-AIM on.
As for the Virtual Range, it does make sense in a plot context; why would
the legendary Solid Snake need to learn about sneaking?
Starting from Act 3 though, even those who are not deterred by the Psyche
Gauge into running a shooting spree will realize that to be unnoticed is perhaps
the best means of strategy. The meat of Act 3 is the trailing of the resistance
member, Act 4 involves a lot of Gekkos and obnoxious Dwarf Gekkos (which
can be easily bypassed with Chaff Grenades... which Drebin interestingly
doesn't stock) and the minor gameplay in the beginning of Act 5 could be considered one of the most challenging, fun
Metal Gear-like parts of the game. Add The Boss Extreme Mode and you got
something for those of us who want to play a fucking Metal Gear game.
PATRIOTS OF THE GUNS
So why Drebin? What kind of a game where non-confrontation is key would
have you having to pick from an arsenal of weapons and purchase ammunition
on-demand? One that is meant to. That sounds a little simple but that's
what it all comes down to. One of the major themes of the game is the war
economy and the farce of privatization. We got several private military
contractors duking it out with militias around the world. People got scared
and as a result either pushed for some sort of government regulation to
make the battlefield more progressive.
Why bother with on-site procurement when you can have Drebin deliver everything
to you instantly for a small fee?
"The norms the Patriots had crafted for their unified state quickly
became dependent on a single business... the war economy. Meanwhile,
the political cause of creating a "cleaner, safer battlefield" provided
a convenient catalyst."
- Big Boss, MGS4 Epilogue
The Patriots introduce the SOP system which is seemingly done to control
the "excess" of PMCs by creating an ID system. Of course, as a result the
Patriot supported PMC monopoly, Liquid Ocelot's Outer Heaven, pretty much
got stronger as a result as did the war economy. Yet as with any sort of
regulation, people get away with not complying for huge profits. Sometimes
there is even secret support by the government such as the United States
supporting cocaine dealers in the 1980's during the Iran-Contra scandal.
In the case of Guns of the Patriots, the DREBINS were specifically created
by The Patriots to allow those who otherwise would not be able to acquire
weapons, fight or have access to nanomachines in general. They have to--otherwise
there wouldn't be much for Outer Heaven's PMCs to do besides fight other
"I sell ID guns to the PMCs and state armies... And naked guns
to to terrorist groups and paramilitaries. And these ID guns can't be
sold on the black market. System's practically a license for us arms
dealers to print money."
- Drebin, MGS4 Act I
"...the Patriots picked me up and brought me into the family business.
I was Drebin 893. There's a whole lotta pawns like me all over the world.
How you suppose I laundered guns like I did? 'Cause they let me."
- Drebin, MGS4 Act V
When you think about it, wasn't Solid Snake fine with just his Operator
and AK 102? In the original Metal Gear Solid he mostly relied on his SOCOM
and FA-MAS. However things have changed in the nine years
between the Shadow Moses incident and Liquid Ocelot's Insurrection.
This itself might explain why Snake, who believes his body condition
is decelerating due to a virus that was transmitted to him by needle,
is seemingly okay with a complete stranger injecting him with nanomachines
with a simple line as "Relax, it won't hurt. You scared of needles
It's okay, this guy seems legit.
Without DREBIN, Snake would have to do what was done before and scavenger
the site for unlocked weapons. With the way the system is set-up though,
finding such weapons through legitimate means is as easy as
soliciting for sex at a day care center. Snake has
to go underground with DREBIN in order to be up to date with how things
work. Thus Drebin's Shop is a means to immerse the player into the war
economy depicted in the game.
The connection between the Drebin Points
is obvious but there's also the change in how the player reacts to running
out of ammunition or even acquiring weapons. Most players will buy
ammo when they need it rather than conserve it like they would have
earlier. Guns of the Patriots is
also the only Metal Gear game where you can simply purchase special unlockables such as Stealth Camouflage and
Bandana (face paint in MGS3) if you don't want to bother with earning
it. On the other hand, the only way to obtain the Tanegashima Gun is
through Drebin's Shop. War has changed, indeed.
THE MEN IN SNAKE'S MUSTACHE
If you were to say that Uncharted: Drake's Fortune is a better looking
game than Guns of the Patriots, you might be subjectively correct. However
if you were to claim that Uncharted is graphically superior to Guns
of the Patriots, I might disagree. Let's get two things out
there. First, Uncharted is an amazing-looking video game. Second, like
any other Metal Gear game, Guns of the Patriots can otherwise look amazing...
until you go into first person and realize how blurry and undetailed
the textures look. In this case they were actually quite detailed,
but there was a lack of bump mapping.
These screenshots can hardly be considered an accurate representative
of how both games look in action at an ideal resolution, but they
do reveal that while Uncharted certainly excelled in bump mapping
and environmental textures, Guns of the Patriots is better that
lighting effects and is more detailed with items and enemies.
While the environments might not look amazing, there is one thing that
shines and that's the models they used. Different painstaking methods
were used to create 3D models of everything from the Triumph Bonneville
T100 motorcycle to the character models. Snake looks amazing, as do
the Beauties; what is more impressive though is how detailed
everyone from PMC soldiers, to militia men and even the seemingly
unimportant civilians at the end of Act 2 are in
Guns of the Patriots compared to the likes of Uncharted, where the
main characters are detailed while everyone else are lacking. Not
only is the detail for every single model used in Guns of the
Patriots including those that
were only used in cutscenes brilliant, but so were the animations. That's
the difference between Guns of the Patriots and most current generation
video games that may look better--the amount of detail given to things
that are otherwise not considered.
"The polygon amount for Snake's mustache is the same as one
enemy soldier in MGS3.... only in the mustache!"
- Yoji Shinkiwa, TGS 2005
One more thing that Guns of the Patriots shines in terms of graphics
but is often overlooked is it's dedication to those who have not adopted
HD yet. Often forgotten, those of us who are still playing on
older television sets that run 480i-576p
find themselves not able to read subtitles or HUD data. While there
are a few minor details missing in a 480i setting, effort was put
into making sure the game looked great even on an old television set.
To this day developers of high-definition games have issues with unreadable
"tiny text" being displayed at standard resolution and
either release patches that address the issue such as Rare did
with Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts and Bolts or simply turn their backs on
consumers as Capcom did with Dead Rising, leaving them with a
Both of these screenshots were taken from a 480i source. Only
one of them can be considered eye-rape.
Just this year BioWare actually announced that the tiny text in Mass Effect
2 cannot be fixed, leaving those with standard definition television
sets to either deal with it, splurge on an HDTV or just play another
fucking game. BioWare, despite being somewhat apologetic, dismissed
the issue as only occurring in "a small portion of SDTV owners" despite
consumer research revealing that only 46% of households in the United
States have at least one HDTV (LRG,
2009). Kojima Productions, on the other hand, had Guns of the
Patriots ready for SD from launch.
DISSOLVING THE NANOMACHINES: SENSE AND WILL
Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty is without a doubt the most
misunderstood Metal Gear game in the series. It is still often
criticized for being what it was meant to be--one of which was
a means to an end. This is why it's successor which was also meant
to be an end to the series, Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater, was
a prequel. Nonetheless even after Snake Eater, the misunderstood Sons of Liberty caused many
to beg for a direct sequel.
The identities of the members of The Patriots were not established
in 2001. 2004's Snake Eater discussed The Philosopher's Wisemen's
Committee but apparently it wasn't enough. Guns of the
Patriots reveals the entire support team of Snake Eater
including Ocelot and Big Boss as The Patriots, but this was
just to answer a question that never had an answer.
"Once again I'd intended for MGS3 to wrap up the series,
but so many people wanted to know what happened after "2".
Things like the identity of the Patriots and so forth. I had
planned on leaving those mysteries as mysteries, but people
weren't convinced that the series was wrapped up. So ultimately
we ended up making "4"."
With these "mysteries" being solved by Kojima pulling
"answers" out of his ass, the question I have for anyone who was shocked at the end
product is this: what the fuck were you expecting? The series
was supposed to end in 2001. Snake Eater was still pushing it
despite taking place decades before any of the other Metal
Gear titles. Anyone who was expecting another Sons of Liberty
was simply setting themselves
to be let down. Much like the wave that pushed Kojima into making
a direct sequel to Sons of Liberty, Hideo Kojima is pretty much
going to keep things simple when it comes to Metal Gear plots.
"I thought I needed to make the story [for MGS2] more
complex. I guess I made it too complicated... that's one of
my regrets with MGS2. [...] For the story of MGS3, I decided
to take a very simple, clean approach. I focused on the relationship
between Snake and The Boss. The reaction to this approach
was very positive, which I'm happy about."
- Hideo Kojima, 20 Years of Metal Gear
(The Making of MGS4)
Happy indeed. So really, nobody is justified for having high expectations
for the plot of Guns of the Patriots,
especially with the release of Portable Ops. That's not to say
that the hate for the story is not based on legitimate arguments.
There's plenty that can be said.
It would be an incorrect assumption to make, however, to claim
that all of the critics who disliked the plot have a uniform code
of what, exactly, made the plot unappealing compared to previous
Some people who are overall critical about Guns of the Patriots
loved the return to Shadow Moses. Others viewed it negatively
as a way for Kojima to give fan service. Then there are specific
objections such as the REX vs RAY battle or the fact that
most of the enemies are Dwarf Gekkos. What could Kojima Productions
have done to stop everyone from bitching?
This is because everyone had their own idea on how a sequel
to a game that was never supposed to have a sequel will be like.
Everyone who criticizes Guns of the Patriots' plot tend to like
certain things and would keep them while changing other things
and thus create their own perfect version of the game's plot
that may be disputed among others much like the actual official
David Hayter, the English voice actor for Old Snake seems to
like Guns of the Patriots but he did voice a complaint at the
2008 Anime Expo. Snake pussies out of shooting himself to prevent
the FOX-DIE in his body into mutating in such a way that it
would kill everyone. At least that's what he believed and despite
being able to kill a good number of people in his life, he simply
could not do it. Hayter actually begged Kojima Productions to
"I didn't buy it at all. I think it's weak for Snake
to be killing other people and then not be able to kill
himself when it's time. If he knows it's time, then it's
It's a justifiable argument, but there is a valid counter-argument
as well. Such is the case in a vast majority of the issues fans
including myself had with the plot. If there's one thing many
can agree on though, it's probably that the concept of nanomachines
was so overused. But one cannot dismiss the fact that nanomachines
played a huge part in the plot for Guns of the Patriots.
Certainly doesn't excuse the fact that it was continuously
thrown at you at every chance but this could be chalked up
to Kojima fearing that the audience just wouldn't get it.
The reaction to Sons of Liberty has clearly scared the shit
out of him.
Ironically despite his efforts, Guns of the Patriots is the
new Sons of Liberty. Not in story presentation or complexity
or any other good reason, but in that it's also misunderstood
to some degree. The themes just flew over some people to the
point where their very presentation became the reason for complaints
from the likes of Jessica Chobot from IGN:
"I wasn't too keen on the [Threat Ring] aspect. There
I am, standing perfectly still and crouched down, against
a corner and in a shadow. Not making any noise or anything.
My suit has managed to morph itself into the wall. I am
UNTIL, one of those fodder-troops happens to step into my
"ring" and all of a sudden becomes keenly aware of my presence!
Keep in mind that in [a] cut scene, I was doing the same
thing while hiding from the gekkos. In fact, they were so
close to me, they actually threw my lit cigarette back in
my face. Gekkos that have thermal imagery detection and
hyper-sensitivity couldn't find me but the hired chode that's
randomly wandering around managed to "see" me through a
wall. Did the opposing forces hire nothing but psychics
that can randomly sense my old-ass presence?"
- Jessica Chobot,
Ms. Chobot was probably too busy licking PSPs for attention
to realize a few things. For starters, the "threat ring"
is more of a visual indicator than an actual physical thing
in the game that enemies can detect. The Octocamo manages
to allow Snake to avoid being detected by "thermal imagery
detection" so that's not an issue either. Could it be that
despite all the advances in technology within the series'
universe, these unmanned weapons lack the human ability
to detect certain things? The Gekko didn't feel a draft.
The human? Most certainly. So while nanotechnology will
make a man less human, there is still elements of human
nature that is desired over that which is machine.
In no way am I saying that the criticism of the game is
from ditzy observations such as Chobot's--otherwise I'd
be calling myself ditzy--but often there really is more
than meets the eye with Guns of the Patriots. Big Boss'
appearance in the end seemed like an obnoxious way to let
Naked Snake fans orgasm over an unnecessary conclusion.
But was it really that unnecessary? I can argue that it
was. But what's important is what he says, specifically
regarding why he became a completely insane military dictator--The
Boss' "will." Well so was Zero, wasn't he? All of this was
already known from the conversation between Snake and Big
Momma. It's just that it wasn't completely covered back then.
Solid Snake and Rose's appearances at the end of Sons
of Liberty were very similar to Big Boss and Zero's
appearances at the end of Guns of the Patriots despite
the former being more plausible and less loquacious.
Solid Snake's appearance in the end of Sons of Liberty,
seemingly unharmed by jumping into the Atlantic to follow
Metal Gear RAY wasn't as farcical as Eva somehow performing
skin transfer to Big Boss. Rose being a real person isn't
as goofy as Zero still being alive at over a hundred
years of age. Nonetheless these endings both served the
same purpose; it wasn't until the end that a
character's whereabouts are known and the main theme
of the game is expressed.
While both Zero and Big Boss
had an idea of what The Boss' will was, they totally fucked
up and Big Boss just figured it out after something as
absurd as his fucking resurrection. The Boss influenced
a great number of people but by leaving the world, her
ideas led to an on-going war that led to events such as
the Zanzibar Land Uprising. Zero was getting old and decided
to pass his sense to the JD AI and it created the entire
war economy which itself led to the events of such as
The Big Shell Incident. All of this ends with an old man
walking through microwaves, beating the shit out of another
old man and--oh, just reviving some guy you killed twice
already. It's okay though, he'll kill Zero once and for
all and just by being there he will get a heart
Big Boss was unfortunately given the impractical task
of making sure the series closed with nothing left
to answer--by bringing everything to zero and dying.
Well fuck, what the hell was the point of the rest
of the game? The optimism Kojima had during the development
of Sons of Liberty was expressed in his belief that
people would grasp the messages of Sons of Liberty was
proven to be unfounded and his sense of the game was
picked up only by a minority.
So in this aspect, Kojima
simply wanted to take it slow.
After making two titles
that were apparently not adequate as a proper end to
fans, he answered everything. What couldn't be answered
through the game he had Big Boss answer instead. So
Big Boss spewed out things
like explanations of things that could have still been
left open in the game. Someone had to do it. Afterall, wasn't the reasoning
behind making a sequel to Sons of Liberty essentially
tying everything up?
IT'S RISING AGAIN
Despite the assassination of any ambiguity left in the series,
Kojima left the ending open... by changing it last-minute.
"Instead of "Snake, Hal, they're ready!"
I wanted it to be, "Come quick! They're ready!"
That way the player is left to imagine who's there.
It might be Snake, it might be Raiden, it might
be someone completely different. The end is left
to each player's imagination."
- Hideo Kojima, Hideo Kojima's
(The Making of MGS4)
It might be a set up for a sequel. Makes sense as
Sunny later talks about how her shitty eggs look
"sorta like the sun" and that "it's rising again."
Or maybe Metal Gear Solid: Rising has nothing to do
with this and Kojima just wanted to leave something
open to our imaginations. Let's be honest though,
Rising will probably be a canon game, and even if
not, we already got Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker
which is being touted as spiritually being "Metal
Gear Solid 5." Ideally, the series should end it's
canon as soon as possible but nothing has happened
that suggest this will happen.
Perhaps Guns of the Patriots brought everything to
zero much like Big Boss. With little left to
question, new Metal Gear games can esentially reboot
the series while still remaining canon. The
explanation for Vamp's faux immortality was stupid,
but at least we know we won't see him in a future
title. The Patriots being the cast of Snake Eater is
laughable but throughout the series they've died
one-by-one and their AIs have been destroyed. I'm
not expecting anything phenomenal in the future, but
Guns of the Patriots does give the series canon the
semi-blank state it needs to be creative. At least
enough to let them be better than Guns of the
Patriots in plot.
Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots is by no means
the worst video game ever... or even the worst Metal
Gear game ever for that matter.
However I must say it does feel forced in both plot
and presentation, making the game seem almost like a
mainstream politician: an entity made to appeal to anyone
who can vote, or in this case, anyone who could afford
a PlayStation 3 and a copy of this game. Still,
for a game that shouldn't have been made at all, it's
fun, it looks great and within the mess of a storyline
there are some good points made. It might even
benefit future titles. That's pretty impressive for