My Top 5 Games of 2008: #4 Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots (PS3)

Developed: Kojima Productions
Published: Konami
Genre: Stealth/Third Person Action
Platform: PS3

Let me start this article by saying that I am a Metal Gear fanatic. I've played just about every game in the series and 2 of them are in my top 10 games of all time(I'll get to that some day). Although this isn't one of them it is still an amazing game and a fantastic end to the saga of series protagonist Solid Snake. Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots chronicles his fight against Revolver Ocelot, a man possessed by Snake's dead brother Liquid. It boasts some of the best graphics in any game to date and a globe spanning plot with some incredible action set pieces. There are a few things that I don't like about it, though, but I'll get into that in the bulk of the article. This is gonna be another long snark fest like my Final Fantasy IV article and will contain spoilers for the whole Metal Gear series so be warned.

The game opens with a random, unskippable, live action television show or commercial from the world of Metal Gear. Quite an abstract callback to the craziness of MGS2 which sets an interesting tone for the rest of the game. There are several possible scenes and you can actually change the channels and chose the one you want to watch but the one that I saw the first time I played the game was a cooking show called Bomb Shelter Buffet. It showcased strange recipes like alligator and snake, a likely reference to MGS3 where you had to eat such animals to maintain your stamina meter. It ends with a particularly shocking line when an audience member is called up and suddenly cuts a snake's head off violently while the chef says rather aggressively, "This is the last chapter in this snake's life!" After watching that, all I could think of for the whole game was, "Shit! Snake's gonna die by the end of this!"
Well that looks sanitary.
 The actually game starts with a recurring scene of Sunny, daughter of deceased MGS2 character Olga Gurlukovich, cooking eggs while singing a song of the numbers in Pi. This scene reappears before each act almost like a bookend and each time with a different scientific song showing a bit too much intelligence in a character who is supposed to be 6. More on that later. Solid Snake and his partner in world saving, the brilliant computer programmer Hal Emmerich AKA Otacon, are being briefed by Snake's former CO, Colonel Roy Campbell. He exposits about the fall of the state militaries and their replacement by private military corporations or PMCs for short. These PMCs don't discriminate who they work for and will even fight for terrorists if the money is right. The world's economy has become almost completely dependent on the profits generated by these companies, causing a state of perpetual war for no reason other than to make money.
They really prettied Otacon up for this one.
There are 5 major PMCs, all controlled by a single parent company under the command of series antagonist Revolver Ocelot who, since MGS2, has been possessed by Snake's deceased brother, Liquid Snake. This is because Ocelot, in addition to being the son of history's greatest spirit medium, also has one of Liquid's arms grafted onto his body; a replacement for his own arm, which he lost in MGS1. I. Am. Not. Making. This. Up. See, the Metal Gear series is the baby of director Hideo Kojima, who has an unconventional method of storytelling to say the least. Just wait 'til I get to MGS2. Anyway, Ocelot plans to destroy a system which monitors every PMC soldier in world through nanomachines and is capable of suppressing their emotions and even controlling their actions. Snake's mission is to assassinate Ocelot at any cost.
Our main antagonist: A 70 year old Russian cowboy possessed by the soul of a clone. It almost sounds silly on paper.
 The scene shifts to Snake in an unidentified Middle-Eastern country in the throes of civil war. Snake monologues as he rides in the back of a truck full of rebels, undercover to get behind enemy lines. He apparently disagrees with the Fallout series and states that war has changed and reiterates the briefing in saying that soldiers now have their emotions numbed by nanomacines and fight for little to no reason other than to generate profits for PMCs. He arrives in a city guarded by one such PMC and joins the rebels in their assault. Not 10 seconds pass when a bunch of robots called Gekko, based on past Metal Gears(the series titular giant robots) show up and kill almost all the rebels. Jeeze, this game wastes no time getting right to the point. Previous installments didn't reveal their Metal Gears until well into the game. Snake barely escapes, losing his rebel disguise in the process revealing his aged appearance. Though he is only 42 years old, he suffers from accelerated aging due to the fact that he is a clone designed to live only so long and appears to be about 70. No, I'm not joking. And it gets much weirder. I'm trying my best to space out the crazy.
When disarming an enemy combatant, always check the crotch. Always. I'm not kidding. That's what's happening here.
In a quick flashback from before the earlier briefing, we see Snake in a graveyard when Otacon approaches and expounds about Snake's accelerated aging and the fact that he was infected by a disease known as FOXDIE in MGS1. FOXDIE is a programmable disease that Snake was infected with(without his knowledge) for the sole purpose of eliminating several individuals when he came into contact with them. It will eventually kill him as well, at an unknown date. This shit only gets weirder later, I promise.

Back in the present, Snake and Otacon discuss the unusually high number of Gekko robots and decide that Ocelot must be nearby. Snake then meets up with a small robot of Otacon's design, the Metal Gear Mk II; a valuable tool for reconnaissance capable of eliminating lone soldiers with a built in taser. Snake moves on to a rebel base where he meets Drebin, an arms launderer who can assist Snake by removing the ID tags that all modern weapons have to prevent anyone without the proper nanomachines from using them. Otacon calls Snake up to voice concern that Drebin must have some friends in high places to do what he does. Perhaps even the Metal Gear series' mysterious shadow government, The Patriots. Waaaaay more on them later. As well as in my eventual MGS2 & 3 articles. Drebin then injects Snake with the most recent wave of nanomachines to allow him to use weapons that he, Drebin, unlocks for Snake.
By the way, Drebin likes to do magic tricks and has a hairless pet monkey named Little Gray. Wheeeeeeee!
Snake makes his way to a ruined hotel where he is to meet the team who has intel about Ocelot, Rat Pack 01. Along the way he spots a rebel soldier chasing another soldier who isn't PMC or rebel. Oh and he was taking a shit under an empty barrel. Wonderful. Scatological humor in my Metal Gear. In truth, that's been a running gag in the Metal Gear series; a soldier named Johnny who suffers from terrible incontinence. Could this be him? Yes. Welcome to the mind of Hideo Kojima.
I searched for 30 minutes for a picture of the skid marks that remain on Johnny's pants for the rest of act 1 to no avail. Here's a picture of him being stupid instead. I think you can guess which one he is.
Anyway, Snake runs into Johnny and they recreate the scene from MGS1 where Snake first meets his love interest, Meryl, and he reprimands her for not knowing how to use a gun. The afore mentioned Meryl and her comrades Ed and Jonathan, bust in before Snake can seriously hurt Johnny. Oh and Johnny is called Akiba for most of the game for whatever reason. Not enough references to Japanese geek culture I suppose. These four soldiers compose Rat Pack 01, with Meryl in command.

Meryl expounds that Ocelot has been in the area for several days and that a woman who appears to be a scientist was spotted with him. She says that they are aware of Ocelot's planned insurrection, but are confident that he can't pull it off. The system that Ocelot wants to destroy is known as SOP or Sons of the Patriots(there's that name again), the system mentioned earlier that monitors PMC soldiers. Meryl believes SOP to be completely secure and explains that her Squad is a human backup overseeing the local soldiers should the automated system be unable to perform its duties.

Expect a lot of unnecessarily long exposition like this. And I'm only summarizing it. That is this game's absolute biggest problem: long-winded expository dialogue that could have been shortened in most cases. One of the biggest rules of film making is known as "enter late, leave early", meaning say what you need to say and move on. Brevity is the soul of wit.
Pictured: Too much talking happening.
Meryl loses her temper when she learns it was her estranged father, Colonel Campbell, who put Snake on this mission, but is interrupted when Ed spots a large number of enemies closing in on them. The attacking soldiers turn out to be haven troopers, Ocelot's most elite troops. Nicknamed FROGS, this all female group of soldiers are much more dangerous than any PMC troops so Snake and company desperately fight their way through them as they escape. After a bit more expository dialogue about the benefits of nanomachines from Meryl, Snake splits off from the rest of the group and heads for Ocelot's camp.

Along the way a rebel uses a bulldozer to smash barriers leading to the camp but is suddenly stopped and flipped over by a robotic wolf. The rebels are attacked by the wolf and 3 other robotic creatures: A bird raining explosives on them, an octopus with deadly tentacles and a puppet master that can control the movements of others with its strings. These 4 decimate the rebels but luckily leave without noticing Snake. This is our boss group for this game: the Beauty and the Beast Corps. See, in every Metal Gear game there's always a group of bosses established as scary badasses near the beginning of the game so you feel more intimidated when you have to actually fight them. MGS2 probably did this the best out of all of them by making Vamp and Fortune seem literally invincible, even when you fought them. Anyway, in this game's case their names are Laughing Octopus(who holds the distinction of being the only character in the MGS series to drop an F-bomb), Raging Raven, Crying Wolf, and Screaming Mantis, each named partly after villains from MGS1 and 3 with attacks similar to those of several MGS2 bosses.
Yeah, the bosses are women in robot animal suits this time. Kojima is out of ideas.
Snake spots Ocelot on a nearby balcony and as he lines up a shot, Ocelot says to "Activate it" into a radio causing a loud noise to ring out that renders all the nearby soldiers nearly helpless in pain and fear. Meryl's team is effected too except for Akiba who tries in vain to help them. Snake is effected as well and tries to endure it but is unable to make a shot as Ocelot notices him and leaves. The female scientist that Meryl mentioned appears before snake, revealing herself to be Naomi Hunter, the person responsible for Snake being infected with FOXDIE, and the disease's creator. She injects herself with a syringe that she leaves for Snake and walks away leaving Akiba to carry Snake off to safety. Thus ending act 1...Of 5. Plus a long-ass epilogue. Holy hell, this is gonna be long.

Act 2 opens with Sunny cooking more eggs. Riveting. Moving on. Snake awakens and explains what happened to Otacon to which he replies that he received a video from Naomi. In it she explains that she is being held captive in South America and is being forced by Ocelot to do nanomachine research to try and crack the SOP system. Somehow SOP is based on FOXDIE or some silly shit, I don't know, just go with it. She says that Ocelot already has a loophole in SOP's security so they don't have much time. They're certain that it's from her because the video showing her location was sent in a separate file encrypted in soliton radar data, the radar from MGS1. Apparently Sunny figured it out. She's a computer prodigy or whatever. This game is silly.

Snake arrives in South America where there is a rebellion going on just like the one in the Middle East. As Snake crawls through the jungle, he takes this opportunity to retcon the final scene of MGS2 while speaking to Campbell over the radio and says that the Patriots aren't ghosts from 100 years ago as stated in that game. Occam's razor I suppose. They discuss how Solidus, another of Snake's brothers, feared the current world climate of constant war and the subjugation of soldiers through SOP and that he was fighting to stop it from happening in MGS2. Guess we shouldn't have killed him at the end of that game then...
Your actions finally make sense, Solidus...2 games later...!
They exposit further that even if they stop Ocelot, the Patriots would still be in control and if they take down the Patriots too, the world economy would collapse because of its dependance on the constant state of war. Quite the moral quandary. Once again Snake must sneak through an armed rebellion to reach Ocelot but this time there are complications. Laughing Octopus shows up along with MGS2 villain Vamp, a seemingly immortal man who claims to be a vampire. Otacon isn't too happy to see Vamp still alive since Vamp killed his sister in MGS2. Octopus, who has advanced camouflage capabilities built into her suit, changes her face to look like Snake's before killing a bunch of rebels to get them good and pissed at him. So unlike the Middle Eastern area, Snake has no allies among the rebels here.
Here's how Vamp looked in MGS2...
In MGS4 he got a bit more, uh...hairy.
As Snake makes his way to Ocelot's base, he is contacted by Campbell who introduces his wife to Snake, who is available for counseling should he ever need it. It turns out that it's Rosemary, MGS2 protagonist Raiden's old girlfriend. Snake expresses his disapproval for the marriage and mentions Meryl's disgust for it which she voiced during act 1.

Snake runs into Drebin again and asks if he works for the Patriots, which he denies and goes on to further explain how SOP works. This shit was complicated enough, Kojima. Stop making it more incomprehensible already. Drebin also explains a bit about the Beauty and the Beast corps. That they were traumatized soldiers who live only to fight and that they have been convinced that killing Snake will ease their suffering. That can't turn out well.

Moving on, Snake is contacted by Raiden, the afore mentioned protagonist of MGS2, who tells Snake that he is nearby looking for a resistance leader named Big Mama, who supposedly has the corpse of Big Boss, the man that Snake and his brothers were cloned from. Yep, you just read that; you haven't lost your mind yet...I hope. Rosemary contacts Snake afterward, explaining what happened between her and Raiden; That their relationship soured after Raiden recover repressed memories of being a child soldier and that he eventually disappeared altogether. She was also pregnant with his child at the time. Hurray broken households!

Snake reaches Naomi's lab and sees that she is having a seizure of some sort that calms after she injects herself with something. She explains what happened in the Middle East when Ocelot caused all the soldiers to go insane, saying that it's what happens when soldiers lose the emotional control that SOP provides. Snake asks about his accelerated aging and Naomi explains that he has about 6 months to live. However this is not because of the rapid aging, but its effect on FOXDIE, which Snake has been infected with for 9 years. FOXDIE only kills who it was programmed to kill but his rapid aging has caused it to mutate, possibly to the point where it could eventually exterminate the human race. She estimates only 3 months until it mutates to that point and tells him that she also found a new strain of FOXDIE in his blood that she can't identify. She gives Snake a syringe that will suppress his nanomachines whenever he uses it, which she hopes will help his condition when it gets worse.

Naomi begins to explain that Ocelot has changed his plans. Rather than destroy SOP, he now plans to take over it so he can control all the world's soldiers and overthrow the Patriots. He calls this plan "Guns of the Patriots". Woohoo, name drop! They are interrupted by a flashbang grenade and a bunch of soldiers crashing in through the windows. They take Naomi and several Haven Troopers arrive who Snake quickly dispatches.

Laughing Octopus shows up who Snake fights until she gets out of her robot armor and vomits up a bunch of black stuff. Don't ask me why, I just recap this shit. Her suit appears to be covered in an oily substance as she starts to freak out but soon calms and slowly advances on Snake unarmed. This happens after every B&B Corps boss fight. They get out of their robot suit, freak out, then slowly advance on Snake and attack him by hugging him which somehow causes damage. Snake kills her but before she dies more weirdness occurs when she is surrounded by blue fire, then flower petals. Then she falls in to the ground in a fetal position and her suit seems to turn to stone before she finally dies. If these scenes are supposed to have some deep meaning then it goes right over my head.
More dumb shit about the beauty portion of each B&B boss: If you wait long enough the whole world goes white and the bosses will pose for you if you aim your camera item at them. Kojima is way too horny.
Drebin calls Snake and gives him Laughing Octopus' disturbing backstory of how she was forced by an insane cult to laugh as she killed her friends and family. Snake accuses Drebin of injecting him with the unknown strain of FOXDIE that Naomi detected but Drebin denies it, saying that it would be bad for business. After some advice on tracking from Raiden, Snake begins to follow the trail of the soldiers who took Naomi.

He arrives at a helipad where Vamp is escorting Naomi to a helicopter. Snake shoots Vamp in the forehead which seems to barely phase him. Vamp tells some nearby guards to use their syringes before passing out, when suddenly the same sound from Ocelot's camp rings out, causing the same effect on Snake and the guards as before. The shots the soldiers took were apparently a failed test to resist the effects of losing the SOP emotion control. Snake uses the syringe that Naomi gave him which seems to lessen the effect, just as several Gekko arrive and fire on Snake. Drebin shows up and knocks over the Gekko with his APC, and Naomi jumps out of the helicopter and she and Snake enter the vehicle.
I won't explain this picture because it's just too funny out of context.
As they drive off, they are assaulted by hordes of Gekko and PMC soldiers who have been reduced to a zombie like state by Ocelot's test. They arrive at a market where Drebin's APC flips and they are assailed by a seemingly unbeatable number of Gekko. Suddenly Raiden shows up, looking significantly more badass than in MGS2, with cybernetic enhancements covering his body. He effortlessly dispatches the Gekko with a freaking sword in a segment that I wish so badly was gameplay.
I bet you wish you could play as Raiden now, ya whiny bastards.
Drebin stays behind to tend to his vehicle while Snake and Naomi run to a nearby clearing where Otacon is waiting in a helicopter to save them. They arrive and quickly get in as Otacon and Naomi share a foreshadowing glance. They take off, leaving Raiden to fight more arriving Gekko. They manage to bind him with cables as Vamp shows up, having fully recovered from being shot in the head. He stabs Raiden several times when Snake suddenly shoots the cords binding Raiden, who has a short fight with Vamp. After they both suffer absurd injuries Vamp finally collapses and Raiden joins the rest of the group in the helicopter.

As they fly away Vamp awakens and calls Ocelot. He tells him that the PMC troops suffered brain damage who replies that they will need a pure sample of Big Boss' DNA to make their plans work. My brain is starting to hurt from typing all of this. Back in the helicopter, Naomi explains that Vamp's immortality is due to his nanomachines, which she created. Just before Raiden passes out from his injuries, he tells Snake to go to Europe and meet the resistance leader there: Big Mama. Thus ends act 2.

At the start of act 3 we see Naomi teaching Sunny to properly cook eggs. Moving on. Later we find Otacon, Naomi, and Sunny all working at computers. Naomi expounds that the 2 incidents of soldiers freaking out were tests performed by Ocelot, the first using Liquid Snake's DNA, the second using Solid Snake's and reiterates what Ocelot said at the end of act 2; that they need Big Boss' DNA. In a rather confusing explanation, Naomi tells them that SOP records the DNA of anyone who accesses it's system and if they don't match up with anyone who is authorized to use it, they are locked out forever. Big Boss' DNA is somehow the solution to this. Dear lord, this game's story is gonna make my head explode.
Not pictured: Anything that makes sense or advances the plot.
Anyway, they discuss Raiden's condition next, saying that if he doesn't get more of the artificial blood that his cyborg body uses, he will die. Raiden speaks up telling them that the equipment that can save him just so happens to be located in the same area of Europe where Liquid is searching for Big Boss. Plot convenience, away!

Later, we find Snake and Sunny are asleep while Otacon and Naomi continue to work. They discuss Sunny's past, how she was raised by the Patriots to be a computer hacker until Raiden rescued her. They flirt with each other endlessly to the point where I wanna shake Kojima by the shoulders and yell at him to shorten his scenes. They end up sleeping together for god knows what reason; I guess Kojima is a shipper.

The next day Snake is in disguise as he sneaks through an unknown European city where, you guessed it, there's a rebellion going on. Campbell tells Snake by radio that he'll have to track down Big Mama and her resistance group, as they are the ones in possession of Big Boss' corpse. Snake reaches a security checkpoint where everyone must have their nanomachines scanned if they want to pass. Just before he gets scanned he is pulled aside by Meryl who takes him to a room to talk. She tells him that the US government has put her in command of a huge battalion of soldiers and are prepared to strike Ocelot's troops. She pleads with him to give up his assassination mission and assures him that she has everything under control. After Snake replies that he'll just have to find Ocelot first, Meryl berates him, calling him old Snake, and leaves in anger.

Snake leaves and begins to make his way through the city. Otacon tells him that he'll have to tail one of the resistance members if he wants to find their hideout and that Raiden is on his way to receive treatment. Snake does just that and eventually finds himself in a church. He's forced to knock out a few of the resistance members before a woman appears before him saying that he must be Snake. The woman, Big Mama, reveals that she is Snake's mother, much to his shock, saying that she carried the cloned embryos of Solid and Liquid Snake in her womb. She then goes on probably the most long-winded explanation of all time. I'll try to condense it.

She explains that Big Boss and his supporting team from MGS3, along with Ocelot, were the founding members of the patriots. Eva, as Big Mama was once known, soon joined them as well. Zero, the leader of the Patriots, wanted to use the organization to control the United States. Big Boss disagreed with this and split off from the patriots, which lead to the creation of Solid and Liquid Snake. Solid Snake ended up killing Big Boss, unknowingly working for the Patriots himself. Big Mama and Ocelot began to work together to take down the other Patriots and succeeded in killing 2. As zero aged, he had 5 AIs created to take over for him. One of the AIs was destroyed during the events of MGS2 but the other 4 are still in control. They control everything: the world economy, war, politics, culture, and of course, the SOP system.

Ocelot eventually went off on his own, leaving Big Mama to search for Big Boss' remains. She was approached by Raiden, who had information about the Patriots after the events of MGS2. They were eventually able to recover Big Boss, who was kept alive in a vegetative state, and rescue Sunny as well. Big Mama takes snake to a van and shows him Big Boss, a charred husk kept barely alive by nanomachines.

Otacon calls Snake up and tells him that Naomi disappeared after they brought Raiden back. Snake wonders if she betrayed them and went back to Ocelot. Otacon also mentions that Raiden is doing better and will make a full recovery in 48 hours. A trench coat wearing figure appears in the church suddenly which reveals itself to be a stack of several spherical robots, known as scarabs, who attack the rebels. Big Mama shows her skill with a pistol by taking them all out in a matter of moments, remarking that they have to go because Ocelot knows where they are. Otacon confirms this saying that the PMC troops are on their way.
Big Mama: queen of exposition...and cleavage...
Big Mama then takes the opportunity to talk about the high number of child soldiers used by PMCs and says that first person shooters games are tools made by PMCs to indoctrinate children. Really, Kojima? Saying that war video games indoctrinate a war video game. I really don't know what to say about that one. Anyway, they speed off in a motorcycle, with Snake in back as gunner. They are relentlessly assaulted by the PMC soldiers as they flee and are eventually attacked by Raging Raven. As they regroup with the van carrying Big Boss, they are knocked off the bike by one of Raven's missiles and crash into a nearby tower.

In a scene mirroring one in MGS3, Big Mama is badly injured, with a sharp piece of metal stabbed through her abdomen. She pulls herself away from the wall containing the sharp spike, and asks how the resistance members in the van are doing. Snake checks on them, and sees that they are dead. Big Mama tells Snake that Raging Raven will soon come for them so he heads up to the top of the tower to face her.

After defeating Raging Raven, a particularly badly acted scene occurs, similar to the one after Snake defeated Laughing Octopus. Raven is engulfed with black feathers, which turn white, and gets out of her robot suit. Her suit takes on a magma like texture while she hallucinates that she is being eaten alive by birds but eventually calms and advances on Snake the same way Octopus did. Snake is forced to dispatch her and she is engulfed in feathers again, this time white, as well as purple flames which soon subside as, just like Octopus, she lays down in a fetal position and her suit turns to stone. I still don't get it Kojima. Better do that exact same scene two more times to make it really sink in.

Snake retrieves Raven's grenade launcher and receives another creepy call from Drebin describing Raven's past where she was used as a child prostitute by soldiers until one day they left her and the other children they had captive behind to be eaten by birds. She managed to get free and under cover of night she killed all the soldiers who had abused her. Kojima really likes telling messed up stories. Snake heads back downstairs to check on Big Mama who tells him that the van outside was actually a decoy and the real one is floating down the nearby river.

They soon arrive at the river and find Ocelot sitting and enjoying a smoke, seemingly without a care in the world. He points towards a burning boat in the river, which causes Big Mama to collapse in anguish. Soldiers surround them and Vamp appears, escorting Naomi. Ocelot says that Naomi told him everything and that he finally has Big Boss. With surprising agility, Ocelot advances on Snake and quickly disarms him, stabbing him in the shoulder. Ocelot tells Snake that he has the Patriot AI that was supposedly destroyed in MGS2 and says that he has already snuck it into the Patriots' network. He plans to destroy the main AI with a nuclear strike and take over the others so he can create his own haven for soldiers, just as Big Boss once dreamed of doing. Ocelot continues to abuse the helpless Snake as he exposits about how they are freaks who should have never existed and other dumb shit that I'll skip.

Ocelot hears the approaching soldiers that Meryl mentioned and gets into his boat. As he drives off, his boat is surrounded by others, stopping him in the middle of the river. Hundreds of soldiers surround Ocelot, in the air, in the water, on the shores, and on a nearby bridge. As Snake boards Meryl's boat with Big Mama, Meryl commands Ocelot to surrender. Ocelot raises a hand in the air, and just as Meryl gives the order to fire, Ocelot points his other hand forward causing all the lights on the boats to shut off and the soldiers' guns to jam.

In probably the coolest scene in the game Ocelot proclaims that his Guns of the Patriots plan was successful and proceeds to point at each helicopter with his hand in a gun shape and yell, "Bang!" The helicopters shut down and crash and Ocelot focuses on Meryl's boat next. He points a hand, again in a gun shape, and does shooting motions which his soldiers match perfectly with real gunfire. Ed and Jonathan are both shot several times but Snake, Big Mama, Akiba, and Meryl are unharmed. Ocelot points his hand at his head this time, yelling "bang" again, which causes all the soldiers in the area, save for his own, to panic just as they did in the Middle East and South America. Akiba is unaffected, just like in act 1, and rushes to Meryl's aid. Ocelot once again has his soldiers fire, this time upon all the soldiers on the shores, killing most of them.

He then fires his boat's main cannon at Meryl's boat knocking everyone but Snake and Big Mama overboard. He cruises next to them and has Vamp toss Big Boss onto their boat, saying that they don't need him anymore. Big Boss lands in a patch of fire and comes aflame. Eva attempts to help him but bursts into flames as well, and as Snake runs to aid her Ocelot takes aim and shoots at one of the boat's fuel tanks, which explodes, knocking Snake and Big Mama away and killing Big Boss. As Ocelot drives off, Snake, whose face is now severally burned on one side, calls out for Otacon who quickly drives the Metal Gear Mk II onto Ocelot's boat to track them.

Here's the scene itself, courtesy of YouTube user Aloyalgamer:

The scene switches to Akiba, who removes his mask to perform CPR on Meryl and holy crap! He's probably the most attractive guy in the whole series. Anyway, Meryl comes to and is so thankful she kisses him. We rejoin Snake and Big Mama, who is near death. Just before she passes, she leaves Snake with some cryptic parting words about light and shadows and extinguishing the light...make sense already Kojima. Drebin arrives to aid Snake as act 3 ends.
I honestly can't think of a caption for this. Just enjoy.
Act 4 starts with Sunny cooking eg-OH, PISS OFF! Damn annoying children... Snake and Otacon are watching footage from Metal Gear Mk II in which Ocelot discusses their ability to launch a nuke. The lead Patriot AI, JD, is still in control of the world's nuclear weapons, so they need another way to fire one. Once they destroy JD, the AI that they planted in the Patriots' system will take over and they will be in control of everything. Vamp notices the Mk II at this point and destroys it, ending the video.

Campbell calls Snake and Otacon up and gives a rundown of the situation. Ocelot is currently in control of SOP, which controls soldiers, firearms, and small military vehicles. The war economy has ground to a halt because of this and countries are already on the verge of collapse. They decide that Ocelot plans to use Metal Gear Rex, a pre-SOP Metal Gear with the capability to launch a stealth nuclear weapon.

Snake goes to wake Raiden but is blocked by Sunny who says he isn't ready to fight yet. Raiden assures her that he is and she gives up trying to reason with them. Snake and Raiden then argue about who has less to live for before being interrupted by another transmission. This time it's Mei Ling, another old friend of Snake and Otacon. She confirms their suspicions, saying that she tracked Ocelot to Shadow Moses(the setting for MGS1) island where Metal Gear Rex is located. She will be backing them up from the battleship that she is in command of, the Missouri, the only battleship left that isn't under SOP control.

Snake has a nightmare about MGS1 in which an early area from the game is exactly replicated, crappy PS1 graphics and all. He soon wakes just as they arrive at Shadow Moses. Otacon gives him a replacement robot, the MK III, as Snake exits the helicopter and warns him that there are unmanned sentries around. Snake soon arrives at the base where Rex is stored and the game goes into all out nostalgia mode playing the theme song from MGS1. The first time I played this part, I just stood there at the base's entrance and listened to the whole 5 minute song. Ah, the good old days of angry twin clones and flamboyant psychics...
Snake enters the dilapidated facility through it's tank hanger and finds the security system offline, preventing him from advancing. He heads for Otacon's old office downstairs and reboots the system, revealing a recent security recording of Vamp and Naomi heading for Rex. Snake and Otacon reminisce about the day they met when Snake saved Otacon from Naomi's rampaging older brother, Frank. They wonder if Frank's death while saving Snake during the events of MGS1 caused any hate for Snake in Naomi. As Snake makes his way back upstairs, a Gekko bursts in through the ceiling, which Snake dispatches by activating the room's electrical floor security system. Back at ground level, Otacon uses the Mk III to break a security lock when several Gekko suddenly attack. Snake fights them back and quickly escapes through the door once it opens.

As Snake makes his way through a large, snow covered field, Crying Wolf suddenly appears, firing her rail gun at Snake who dodges at the last second. As he prepares to counterattack, several Haven Troopers show up as well. He dispatches them and then Wolf in a tense, long range battle. You know the drill by now: Wolf gets out of her robot, freaks out, and hallucinates some wolves while her suit takes on a meat like texture. Snake kills her and she is surrounded by blue fire and finally falls into the fetal position as her suit turns to stone. Variation, Kojima, use it.

Snake takes Wolf's rail gun which by all logic he shouldn't be able to haul around for the rest of the game but whatever this is a Metal Gear game. Drebin calls with another spooky story. How does he know all this shit? Crying Wolf's backstory is particularly disturbing so I'll spare you the details. As a child she lost most of her family in a civil war, save for her baby brother who she killed by mistake while trying to stifle his cries as they hid from enemy soldiers. She then went insane and killed all the children in a refugee camp. Kojima...what the hell?

Drebin warns Snake that the last member of the B&B Corps, Screaming Mantis, was in control of the other 3, making her the most dangerous. The game then decides to shatter the fourth wall as violently as possible by having Otacon tell Snake to swap to disc 2, then remembering that they have Blu-Ray technology now so it's not necessary. Subtle. This actually was the exact spot where you swapped to disc 2 in MGS1 but still... As Snake makes his way though the now inactive blast furnace, he is flooded with memories of Naomi's betrayal during the events of MGS1. She vowed revenge on him for her brother's death back then, so why should she change now?

Snake makes it to the hanger and finds that Rex's rail gun has already been taken. Vamp appears, along with Naomi. Snake and Vamp fight but despite his best efforts, Vamp seems to be truly invincible. Snake remembers that it's Vamp's nanomachines that are the source of his immortality, so he injects him with the nanomachine suppressor. Many Gekko suddenly burst in and advance on Snake, but Raiden shows up just in time and destroys them. Raiden and Vamp fight atop Rex as Snake holds back more Gekko. Raiden is finally able to defeat Vamp, just as Otacon get Rex up and running.
I just love Vamp's dull expression here compared to how pissed Raiden looks.
Naomi reappears who Vamp feebly reaches out to for help. She pulls out a syringe that she says will deactivate his nanomachines completely, allowing him to die. He eagerly grabs it and injects himself, finally able to be at peace. Naomi tells Snake that Ocelot has taken the Patriots' ultimate weapon, an enormous battleship called Outer Haven. She injects herself with the same syringe as Vamp, saying that she is the same as him, kept alive only by her nanomachines. She expounds that she is infected with terminal cancer that should have killed her years ago and continues to inject herself until she passes, as the others watch in horror. Cancer doesn't work that way but whatever. As Otacon mourns, Raiden snaps him out of it saying that more Gekko are coming.

The 3 of them get into Rex and use the massive robot to fight their way out of the facility. Raiden jumps out of the cockpit as they exit to fight off the remaining Gekko and is apparently crushed by debris. Ocelot arrives in his own Metal Gear, Metal Gear Ray, a Metal Gear designed to destroy other Metal Gears. Wow I just used the term Metal Gear 4 times in that sentence. I need to work on my writing. Anyway, despite being at a serious disadvantage, Snake manages to disable Ray, though Rex is also disabled in the process. Haven suddenly emerges from the water and Ocelot quickly makes his escape.
Haven begins to ram the island, which Raiden, still alive but trapped under rubble, notices. He's forced to cut his own arm off to get free and quickly dashes to Snake's defense, using his cyborg strength to hold the enormous vessel back. Raiden is unable to hold the ship back for long though and is crushed under it as flashbacks to a conversation he had with Rosemary play out. The scene cuts to Mei Ling ordering the Missouri to fire upon Outer Haven, which forces it to flee. Snake frantically searches for Raiden before falling into unconsciousness, ending act 4.

Act 5 opens with Sunny-Oh wait...It actually doesn't this time. We actually open with Mei Ling briefing Snake, Otacon, Meryl and Akiba, along with her crew. Outer Haven will reach the closest point to JD, which is housed in a satellite, in a little over 15 hours. They wont be able to destroy the immense warship so they plan to infiltrate it and deactivate its computer core. Snake asks how they know so much and Mei Ling replies that all their information came from Naomi, who entrusted it to Sunny. Good idea. Leave the world saving information with a 6 year old.

Later, Snake and Otacon are discussing Raiden, saying that he's alive but in no condition to fight. Snake remarks that the only soldiers he can rely on now with SOP down are Meryl and Akiba. Drebin suddenly appears, who chimes in saying that he provided all the weapons for this mission, since his laundered guns are the only ones that work now outside of Ocelot's army. Man, he really gets around.

They soon reach Outer Haven, and exchange fire with it as the strike team is launched aboard. Akiba hits the side of the ship and falls in the ocean as Snake lands on the deck. As Snake makes his way into the ship's hold he finds Meryl unconscious and has to defend her from waves of Haven troopers. After dispatching them Meryl suddenly rises off the floor as if controlled by a puppeteer. Meryl aims one gun at Snake and the other at her own head. Suddenly a shot rings out and the strings controlling her are cut by Akiba who apparently found a way into the massive ship. Two dead Haven troopers rise from the grave and shoot at Meryl, who is shielded by Akiba. He takes a few shots but isn't killed. Snake re-kills the troopers and is taunted by Screaming Mantis, who finally makes her appearance. She tells Snake that "it's been a long time" and when he looks up at her, he sees the Ghost of MGS1 boss Psycho Mantis floating behind her. I won't even try...

Screaming Mantis is able to use her 2 dolls, one of Psycho Mantis and the other of MGS3 boss the Sorrow, to control the bodies of the living and the dead using their nanomachines. She fires blasts of energy at Meryl and Akiba and while Meryl comes under Mantis' control again, Akiba is unaffected. Annoyed by this, Mantis fires many more shots at the surrounding Haven trooper corpses, taking control of them too. As Snake battles Mantis, he manages to knock her dolls out of her grip and picks them up. He gives her a taste of her own puppetry and takes control of her, shaking her in midair until she is subdued. Yep, that's how you beat her. Same shit as always next, Mantis gets out of her robot and stumbles around for a minute while her suit takes a strange striped pattern. Snake is again forced to kill her and before she dies she is surrounded by blue flames and strings. Just as the others she collapses into a fetal position as her suit turns to stone. I still don't get it.
Screaming Mantis is a master of the deadliest weapon of them all: Puppets.
The game breaks the fourth wall again when Mantis' robot suit reassembles itself and the ghost of Psycho Mantis reappears. He redoes his skit from MGS1 and attempts to read you memory card which he is unable to find since PS3 doesn't use them. As he does this an image of a PS1 flashes onscreen. Next he moves the controller with his mind(he makes it rumble) and screams, "Vibration is back!", a reference to the fact that PS3 launched without vibration and that MGS4 was one of the first games to utilize the controller that reintroduced it to the console. He then disappears leaving Snake, and us, dumbfounded. To top it all off, the Sorrow appears for a moment as well, telling Snake, "The spirit of the warrior will always be with you." Wheeeeeee!
Yep, he's back. And campier than ever.
Drebin calls to punctuate that lighthearted scene with another horror story. He tells of Screaming Mantis' childhood, growing up in a civil war torn country in South America. One day she was forced to hide from militants in a building that turned out to be a torture chamber. She got locked in for weeks and had to listen to the screaming victims all day and night. I'll end it there. Kojima seems to be exhibiting some serious mental health warning signs with these stories.

Snake helps Meryl up and takes her over to the door leading to the CPU core of Outer Haven. They have little time to talk though as more Haven troopers begin to attack. Snake proceeds into the corridor leading to the core, leaving Meryl to deal with the troopers. She soon runs out of ammunition and just as the soldiers close in on her, she is saved by Akiba, who gives her some extra ammo. She asks how he resisted Mantis' control and why he isn't affected by the lack of SOP control to which he replies that he has no nanomachines. At first she's impressed by his foresight, but he admits it's just because he hates needles.

Akiba then professes his love for Meryl and proposes in the heat of battle. She turns him down but immediately asserts herself and tells Akiba to marry HER. Girl power! Back with Snake, he fights his way through an army of scarab robots and is eventually surrounded by Haven troopers. He collapses in pain from his various afflictions and as the troopers set upon him, Raiden appears. He is missing both arms and now has lightning powers somehow. Maybe its just his malfunctioning cybernetic parts giving off electricity. Whatever. He volunteers to move on to the CPU core himself but Snake insists that he must do it. Raiden stays behind to fight the troopers, holding his sword in his mouth, as Snake moves on to the final, microwave filled corridor leading to the core.

In what has to be the most dramatic scene in the game, Snake slowly makes his way through the corridor, slowly getting weaker and weaker from the radiation. In a split-screen we see various shots of Snake's allies fighting with all their might. Meryl, Akiba, and raiden in their fights against Haven troopers, and the Missouri as it is assailed by Metal Gear Rays. As Snake reaches the end of the corridor, he is almost completely out of strength. He eventually is only able to pull himself forward by his arms. Outside, we see Outer Haven's rail gun powering up, nearly ready to destroy JD. Snake finally reaches the end of the corridor and exits to the CPU core and in the split screen, we see that Sunny is finally able to cook eggs correctly on her own. Praise the lord. Snake collapses and vomits, his body steaming from the heat of the microwaves. The room they are in is full of server arranged like a graveyard, complete with holographic flowers in front of each server. Otacon pilots the Mk III to the core and begins to upload the virus they designed to destroy it. Just as Snake limps over to the Mk III, a swarm of scarab robots attacks.
I think they just ran out of wacky ways to abuse Snake at this point. "Lets make him get in a microwave!"
We see scenes of Snake, Meryl and Akiba, Raiden, and the Missouri all in grave danger as the virus continues to upload. When it finishes, the robots attacking Snake deactivate, the Haven troopers all drop their weapons and begin to panic, and the Metal Gears assaulting the Missouri shut off. The virus doesn't stop at Outer Haven's CPU though; it infects JD too and we see a video from Naomi. She explains that she and Sunny altered the virus, naming it FOXALIVE, to erase not only Outer Haven's core, but JD and the other Patriot AIs as well. She felt a moral obligation to put an end to the Patriots' control before it got any more harsh. She goes on to apologize to Otacon for using him and ends her message telling Snake that he has earned his rest. Snake collapses and stops breathing as the scene fades.

Snake awakens on the deck of Outer Haven. Otacon tells him that he's going to get a medic and Snake falls back and loses consciousness just as Ocelot appears in front of him. He again awakens on the highest point on Outer Haven and is greeted by Ocelot. Snake asks why he didn't stop them, clearly convinced that Ocelot didn't do all he could to kill them. He replies that Snake did exactly what he wanted: to destroy the Patriots. He recalls the events of past MGS games, telling of the founding of the Patriots, Big Boss' attempt to create a nation where soldiers could be free, Liquid's attempt to free them from control by their genes, and Solidus' attempt to destroy the Patriots. Ocelot says that everything is over, except for the score that has yet to be settled between them.

They battle in a grueling fist fight, beating each other into near unconsciousness. Their blows soon slow and they start to trade punches one after the other, until Snake manages to find some final hidden strength to deliver a devastating punch that drops Ocelot on his back. He gloats some more about how his plans succeeded and how the world will descend into chaos, with real wars fought by real soldiers under no one's control. Just before he passes away, he states, "I am Liquid's doppelganger. And you are his. Just like your father. You're pretty good."
The ultimate battle: a dying clone vs. a 70 year old man.
Later Otacon explains to Snake that Sunny altered the virus to leave critical infrastructure elements alive while still removing the Patriots' control. Thus ends act 5 leaving only the long, long epilogue left to cover.

The epilogue begins with Sunn-nah, it begins with Akiba and Meryl's wedding. Yeah they actually are getting married. I wasn't joking earlier. Anyway, Meryl seems to have forgiven Campbell and has him walk her down the aisle. Ed oversees the ceremony. Otacon and Drebin watch as Mei Ling asks where Snake is. Otacon claims to not know, saying, "That guy always keeps you waiting."

We now join Raiden, who is recovering in a hospital after having all his cybernetic parts replaced by real ones. Rosemary arrives with a young boy who Raiden assumes is Campbell and Rosemary's son. She tells Raiden that he is his son which he doesn't believe because she told him that she had a miscarriage. She only pretended to be Campbell's wife to hide from the Patriots. Raiden slowly accepts it and speaks to the boy, asking if he's scared of his disfigured appearance. The boy, John, says that he thinks Raiden looks cool, like a super hero, which seems to soften Raiden up, who vows to stay by their side forever.

The scene changes to Snake at a graveyard. He expounds that his fight is over, but there is one more mission he must complete. He must end his life to protect humanity from his mutated strain of FOXDIE. He slowly drops to his knees, pulls out a pistol, puts it in his mouth, and pulls back the hammer before the scene fades to black. A shot rings out during the black screen and we fade back to the wedding.

Otacon and Drebin discuss the effects of the SOP system going down and Drebin explains his past. He was a child soldier who was rescued by the Patriots and made a gun launderer by them. He further explains that Rat Patrol 01 was also under the Patriots' control without their knowledge. The Patriots hoped that Snake and friends could take down Ocelot, but it didn't turn out quite like they wanted. He also discusses the collapse of the world economy without any PMCs and thinks that there could be a new world order soon. Sunny, who is apparently outside during the daytime for the first time, comes over and tells Otacon about her first friend who she just met. She asks where Snake is and Otacon tells her that he is sick and that they can't follow him where he's going.

The credits begin to roll, showing all the voice actors. The last one on the list is Big Boss, a character who had no lines in the whole game. The scene than cuts back to Snake who apparently didn't shoot himself. Big Boss appears, alive and well, with all his limbs intact and no horrible burns. What the hell...
What is this I don't even...
He and Snake have a long, long, long discussion. He tells Snake that the body that was burned in Europe was actually Solidus and that he was a perfect enough clone to fool everyone. Big Boss was in a state of suspended animation before Big Mama found him and rebuilt him using parts from Liquid and Solidus. It turns out that Ocelot was not possessed by Liquid, rather he hypnotized himself to become Liquid at a psychological level.

That right there is the thing I hate most about this game's plot. Why establish Ocelot as the son of history's greatest spirit medium, the Sorrow, and have him replace his own arm with Liquid's if you're just gonna say it was hypnosis all along? If it's supposed to be some kind of huge twist, it's a pretty stupid one.

We then see Zero, the final member of the Patriots, and a vegetable of a man who Big Boss finally tracked down. Big Boss goes on to reiterate the earlier point that Zero created the Patriot AIs to control the world in his place, but they changed to a form beyond anyone's control: to the despotic ruler that used the war economy to control the world. He turns off Zero's life support and embraces his old friend as he dies. He then tells Snake that his FOXDIE infection is what killed Big Mama and Ocelot, and it is programmed to kill him, Big Boss, as well and that it's already starting to take effect.

He collapses and Snake helps him to his feet and takes him over to the grave of his mentor, The Boss. Big Boss tells Snake that the newer FOXDIE strain that he was infected with has stopped the mutation of the old one and he will likely not cause a pandemic during his lifetime. He stands up on his own a salutes his mentor's grave before collapsing in front of it. Snake lights a final cigar for Big Boss to smoke, who tells him to live his life, not for any nation or government, but for himself. Before he dies Big Boss utters one final, rhetorical question: "This is good...isn't it?"

After the credits, Snake and Otacon discuss their plans, saying that they plan to stick together, so that Otacon can tell Snake's story to the end once he's passed on. In one final scene we see Sunny cooking more eg-DAMN YOU, KOJIMA!

So, Metal Gear Solid 4. Despite its convoluted, and sometimes silly plot, the game is near perfect in every other area. I enjoyed the plot overall but it's hard to overlook many of the problems that I pointed out in my "summary". The worst, of course, being the whole Ocelot hypnotism twist. What was the damn point?

Graphically, the game is still one of the most beautiful ones out there and at the time of its release I considered it to have the best graphics around. Every texture looks crisp and clean. Not a single character was done lazily, down to the most basic background characters. MGS4 shows what a console exclusive is truly capable of.

The gameplay is stellar, taking the complicated control scheme of past Metal Gear games and simplifying it to be closer to a game like Gears of War. The many action set pieces are an absolute thrill to play through, although there are a few cutscenes that I wish were gameplay rather than non-interactive videos. Like any time Raiden fights. Damn I wish I could play those parts. Thanks a lot, MGS2 haters... The one gripe I have about the gameplay is the stupid "beauty" fights where you have to kill the boss you just killed again, and its the same damn fight for every B&B corps member. Other than those, the bosses are really fun and nicely varied in terms of gameplay.

The music, sound effects, and voice acting are incredible, as is standard for the series. The Love Theme that plays as Snake arrives in the Middle East and again during the microwave corridor, is an utterly chilling song that gives me goosebumps every time I hear it. The other songs range from the somber Old Snake, to the heart pumping Breakthrough. Sound design is spot on as always. Ever since MGS1 the Metal Gear series has always impressed me with its amazing sound effects. The iconic alert sound it present as always, as is the ding of an item being picked up. The voice acting is the one area of the sound that is lacking at all. The returning cast and most of the new cast are all fantastic, but a few bad apples stick out, like Raging Raven's voice actress who hams it up way too much. Overall though, the game retains its Hollywood caliber presentation that we've loved since MGS1.

MGS4 also contains the kinds of elements that you don't find in any other series. Little touches like the title screen. It shows the scene from the game's ending where Snake puts the gun in his mouth, albeit from a different, far away angle. From far behind we see Snake approach the grave, drop to his knees, and put the gun in his mouth just as in the game's ending, but from there the camera pans up and waits until you press start. When you do, you hear the gunshot and the screen goes dark. Holy shit, I just killed Solid Snake. I've never seen another game's title screen with anywhere near this impact.

Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots is a fantastic, if flawed game that any fan of action games who can tolerate some long, long cutscenes should experience. It's a great end to a fantastic gaming saga with some of the best action set pieces I've experienced in any game.

Number 3 in my top 5 games of 2008!
A crossover party fighting game that perfects its series' formula.

I'll leave you with 2 songs this time 'cause I can't chose just one. The first is Love Theme, the absolutely haunting song that plays during Snake's monologue in act 1. The second is Breakthrough, the frantic song that accompanies the chase scene in act 2. Both courtesy of YouTube user JesusDosier:
Many screens in this article are courtesy of MGS True Fans, CVG, LP Archive, and others that I can't remember, sorry. :(

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