Lop half off the original $60 price tag of Konami's PS3-Exclusive Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots and you've got its newer, friendlier "Greatest Hits" sales pitch. That's right, $30 now gets you my pick for best PS3 game of 2008, and easily one of my top two or three overall.
Not that you need to take my word for it. Designer Hideo Kojima's uber-crypto-sneaker launched around this time last year to nearly universal critical acclaim (not that universal acclaim can explain my allergy to the new Star Trek movie). To be fair, it torqued off a few contrarians, who then undermined their own polemic by trying to sound smart dissing the pseudo-philosophy before half-heartedly ripping the gameplay to shreds.
Did you give it a pass when the game came out? Or maybe you just picked up a PS3? Now's a great time to remedy the gaping hole in your "gi-normous gaming milestones" collection, and yes, that's an "I will pimp for MGS4" sign hanging around my neck. I loved it. I wasn't dolling out scores when I spot-reviewed it last year, but had I been, it would've clocked an easy one-double-aught.
I'll admit that's as much due to my appreciation for the story, directing, and editing, as the sneak-and-cover gameplay itself, but that's how I've always rolled. If I want pure gameplay, I'll play Tetris, or Tic-Tac-Toe (though even those games contain ineluctable narratives). The least interesting moments in BioShock for me involved tinkering with the plasmids and hunting Little Sisters and playing peekaboo with the easily snookered artificial intelligence. I kept playing that game because I wanted to know how the generally well written story ended, not because I cared about flinging extra-super-powerful lightning bolts at the pathetically executed endgame villain.
Occasionally someone tries to foist the notion that games aren't (or shouldn't be) narratives on players. It's a wrongheaded notion, as well as a naive one. Games can be many things. Not-narratives will never be one of them. Metal Gear Solid 4 is an interactive story, and, as it happens, one of the most trenchant ever created. With its dark science-fantasy allegory of warlord-like private military contractors and chess-piece WMDs and wars fought by proxy groups without ideological liabilities to manipulate world economies, it took bigger political risks than its peers...because it took measured aim at much more than just a fantasy world.
For more gaming news and opinion, point your tweet-readers at twitter.com/game_on.