And yet something about MGS4 remains compelling, whether it’s the slick execution of the rare playable sequences or simply the nostalgic desire to see how it all ends for these characters. Aged and enfeebled, Snake cuts a tragic figure. The return of crucial players from all the past MGS games is welcome for long-time fans. Given all the memories Kojima and his team have given gamers over the years, maybe it’s only right that they conclude the saga on their own terms. At the end, it’s clear that time has passed by old soldier Solid Snake. But it’s also passed by MGS as a video game.
No one will ever forget what a revelation the original MGS was. The depth of the narrative and the quality of the cutscenes were unlike anything in comparable action-adventure games. The state of the art has since moved on; other developers, like Valve and 2K Boston, are doing a better job of advancing story lines within the gameplay. Kojima hasn’t kept pace. Although cutscenes can be useful in a variety of ways, they’re often a crutch, particularly when they consist of little more than characters delivering extemporaneous speeches. Yes, war has changed. Games have changed too. It’s time for something new.