Guns of the Patriots takes players into the furthest chapter of Solid lore, and provides concrete endings to nearly every major character.
Coming into the PlayStation 3, Sony had some early struggles dealing with the console’s price and a lack of innovation compared to their competitors. On top of that, there just weren’t many exclusive titles to bring people over. Nintendo had Zelda and Wii Sports while Microsoft had a lower price point and way more exclusives, not to mention achievements and a growing online sector. Help came in 2008 when Uncharted was a hit, Little Big Planet came on strong, and both came in the wake of Metal Gear Solid 4 as a well-scored exclusive that turned heads back to Sony. Continue on with some crazy spoiler warnings to see what all the fuss was about in…
Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots (2008)
For all of the splendidly awesome revelations and innovations this entry hands us, this is probably one of the least accessible games in the industry’s history. Newcomers and series vets alike were turned away by cutscenes that averaged somewhere in the 20-minute area in length with plenty of medical, military and series jargon thrown in for good measure. Kojima and his team do keep you engaged in most scenes with memory and first-person prompts, the using of which rewards you at the end of chapters, but this is ultimately the Metal Gear franchise at its thickest and least newcomer friendly.
That said, the story itself is a culmination of so many storylines and plot threads, both obtrusive and left implied, that series fanatics had to pay attention. From the mid-point of chapter three on, there’s no turning away from the cutscenes no matter the length; just one moment of Liquid Ocelot taking control of the entire world’s military, placing two, gun-shaped fingers to his head with a “Bang!” sealed the deal. There’s no denying the intended weight of that entire scene as what was impregnable finally comes down, but on the side that would see the nearly-limitless tools of The Patriots used to kill and maim for new, horrifying reasons – the worst of all possible worlds.
The series’ gameplay is both at its strongest and weakest in Guns of the Patriots. Solid Snake is given new maneuvers and a camouflage that can literally take on the look of any surface, much to the dismay of enemy soldiers. The new worm-crawl ability can slowly edge you through warring forces unseen with Snake’s Solid Eye relaying plenty of on-screen information in a simple form. On the other hand, of the 12-15 hours a new player would take to see credits, only about half of that time is spent in actual gameplay. There are other interactive moments, such as roaming the plane with the M.K., but actually controlling Snake in an environment feels like a sparse occasion. This is also perhaps the least stealthy title in the series depending on how you allocate funds to Drebin and his lovable monkey.
The boss troupe here is among the more tragic, and well crafted, in the series. Laughing Octopus and Raging Raven seem to stand well above the other two in creativity and challenge with both testing Snake in different, changing ways. All four have themselves a sadly tragic backstory that is meant to highlight the atrocities of wartime crimes, their tales being enough to send each of them into a spiraling psychosis of war and death. The Ray vs. Rex fight feels awesome to longtime fans while the evolving fist fight with Liquid on top of Arsenal Gear at the end goes through quite the array of emotions. You might feel like a badass as the changing life bars remind you of past titles, but the final few moments seem to take you to another mindset all together with melancholy music backing these aging, nearly-dead warriors.
The Phantom Pain is an essential cog to the context of the ending in Guns of the Patriots. After the credits roll, Big Boss is seen with an aged, brain-dead Cipher at the grave of The Boss where Solid Snake just averted his own suicide attempt. Not only is this the first time Zero has made an appearance since Snake Eater, but Big Boss says some fairly monumental and revealing words that will no doubt have further context after Metal Gear Solid V is finished. This end for Big Boss, Major Zero and Solid Snake is rolled into one of the best scenes in Guns of the Patriots, revealing how two of those three resolved to a relatively peaceful end while the other died in blissful, helpless ignorance.
A few cute pieces of Kojima-isms also pop up around this scene. First of all, he lists himself in the credits as “Voice of God,” and he also uses the same song from the end credits as the opening Camp Omega scene in Ground Zeroes. The song of Nicola and Bart, officially called “Here’s to you,” is paced to a slower tune during these credits though with the quickness of the Ground Zeroes version probably signaling a pick-up in the pace of action and sacrifice. Oh Kojima.
Anyways, Guns of the Patriots has been called many negative things since its release for one reason or another but it’s exactly the end chapter so many of these characters deserve. Meryl, Eva and even Solid Snake himself are given chances to break down and stand back up, which is the kind of weight the circumstances of this series have built to from the beginning. There are plenty of pieces to dislike or like as you see fit, but calling this game anything less than a worthy entry in the series seems folly.
One more to go in the Metal Gear main lore with possibly the most important plot line to date coming out of Peace Walker and making up the whole premise of Metal Gear Solid V. What are your thoughts on Guns of the Patriots?