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Metal Gear is ‘solid’ once again

An outbreak is infecting men and women of all ages. A disease has spread since it was detected at midnight, June 12. Symptoms may include sore thumbs, sensitivity to light and a loss of friends.

I’m speaking, of course, of last week’s release of Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of The Patriots (MGS4), arguably the most anticipated game for the Playstation 3 (PS3) to date. The game’s gripping storyline may leave players confined to their couches, prisoners in their own dimly-lit rooms with eyes glued to HDTVs – forced to play for hours on end.

MGS4, developed by Konami and Kojima Productions, takes place in the not-so-distant future when war has become the pillar of the global economy. Military forces are privatized and anyone can be monitored through nano-machines implanted in their bodies.

A plot to exploit the system quickly unfolds and only the legendary hero Solid Snake can save the world from an old rival in another epic installment of the Metal Gear Solid series. However, Solid Snake isn’t quite himself. In MGS4, he is referred to as Old Snake because of circumstances that led to his rapid aging.

Fans will enjoy the classic Metal Gear gameplay that emphasizes stealthy infiltration over head-on combat. Snake’s new “sneaking suit” has high-tech camouflage, known as “octocamo” because of the way it changes color to adapt to his environment, much like an octopus. It also acts as a “muscle suit” to aid Snake’s aging body. All the handy gadgets and weapons from the previous games are revamped with new features to accommodate Snake’s weakened condition. In some cases, even the characters are “reVamped.” Vamp, a blood sucking “immortal” from MGS2, is one of several adversaries Snake must overcome. Many characters throughout the MGS series make appearances in MGS4, contributing to the story’s deep and interwoven plot that spans the seven-game series.

Games in the MGS franchise are known for their cinematic cut scenes and MGS4 is no exception. In MGS4, the transitions from gameplay to cut scene are seamless. Also, the cut scenes are interactive, allowing gamers to view the same scene from different points of view as well as trigger flashbacks from Snake’s memory in the form of screen shots from previous games.

The controls in MGS4 have been fine-tuned. The option of a third person over-the-shoulder aiming stance with cross hairs (similar to games like Gears of War) has greatly improved combat gameplay. It bridges the gap between third-person movement to first-person aim. Moving from sneaking modes to running and climbing positions is now one fluid motion, a great improvement over the awkward controls found in previous MGS titles. The addition of on-screen controlling guides also help with the learning curve.

MGS4 is the last mission for Snake, an old-war relic. He has gone out with a bang in one of the greatest games ever made. Some online gaming sites, such as, have given their final salute to Snake and awarded MGS4 a perfect 10.

For gamers who are not familiar with the MGS series, MGS on the original Playstation is a good place to start. They can see Solid Snake in his glory days and witness the unfolding of MGS’s complicated, yet gripping storyline.

Included with MGS4 is an online multiplayer version known as Metal Gear Online. Players can customize their online character’s appearance and skill sets and play missions ranging from tactical team-based games, such as “Team Death Match,” to strategic free-for-all missions. Like most online games for the PS3, MGO is free over the Playstation Network.

MGS4 is a must-have. Since its release last week, MGS4 sales have soared, with some online gaming sites such as reporting sales of 476,334 copies in four days in Japan alone. MGS4 has also raised PS3 sales in Japan last week from an average of 10,000 to 12,000 systems per week to an astonishing 77,208. reports that MGS4 sold 1.3 million copies worldwide on the day of its release. These numbers prove that MSG4 is helping the PS3 catch up to its successful rivals, the Nintendo Wii and the Microsoft Xbox 360.