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In Metal Gear Solid 4, the player (Old Snake) must navigate the game world in order to progress, using stealth and cunning in addition to traditional combat. It uses the series' traditional third person view with full camera manipulation, but also allows the freedom to play in first-person mode, as well as an over the shoulder view which can be switched from right shoulder to left for easy corner maneuvering. The Close Quarters Combat system has been completely revamped. The player is also able to interrogate guards for information and supplies.
Several elements from previous titles return in modified forms. Players can also use a new form of camouflage called "Octocamo", which replaces the camouflage system featured in Metal Gear Solid 3. Dark blue when disabled, the Octocamo suit allows the wearer to blend in with any surface within a few seconds. A new monocular device called "Solid Eye" replaces the various binoculars and image intensifiers from previous titles, and a steel drum complements the series' traditional cardboard box disguise. It is able to deflect bullets, and can be rolled to knock enemy soldiers over, but can lead to Snake being sick should the player roll around too much.
The game is filled with cut-scenes that explain what happened in previous MGS games and how that relates to the events of MGS4. Players will be able to choose whether to view these scenes by pressing the circle button on their controller when prompted. Although informative enough to excite the hardcore fans of the series, the cut scenes will be straight forward enough for casual gamers. Players will also have the choice of watching certain cut scenes from predetermined camera angles or exploring them with the Metal Gear Mk. II.
Snake is also partnered with a robotic drone, the Metal Gear Mk. II, which allows him to communicate with other characters, in addition to the CODEC radio system from previous games. It is also capable of engaging enemies using an electric shock, as well as providing reconnaissance. This drone is reminiscent of Gillian Seed's robotic sidekick of the same name from another Hideo Kojima game Snatcher.
Due to the lack of a rumble feature (an important part in previous titles) from the PlayStation 3 during much of the development, the game had been designed with a new feature: a white "Threat Ring," that visibly vibrates when sound is made nearby. As a series known for extensive use of rumble, when Sony announced the reintroduction of a new DualShock 3, MGS4 was announced as one of the first major games to make use of the force feedback capabilities.
Snake's health plays a small factor during gameplay. If injured on the battlefield, cuts and burns will remain on his skin. However, the developers wished to avoid putting the stress of maintaining Snake's health onto the players, so he wears a muscle suit, allowing players to move in a similar fashion to previous games.
Snake has two meters that replace the stamina bar from Snake Eater. The first meter, "Stress", is based on current fighting and climate conditions. This can cause Snake to go into a "combat high", that increases his accuracy and reduces damage sustained. However this effect will eventually wear off and could cause Snake to momentarily collapse. Smoking a cigarette calms Snake down. The second meter, "Psyche", slowly drops over time reducing Snake's accuracy. Scanning the pages of a glamor magazine will increase the meter.
There is also a "Baseline Map" which is a radar map with a dynamic circle based on Snake's "presence" to the environment. Accessible through the main menu, the Virtual Range is a test facility that allows the player to access the game's library of weapons as well as practice Snake's CQC moves.
Set in 2014, five years after the "Big Shell Incident" (the events of the Plant chapter from Metal Gear Solid 2), Metal Gear Solid 4 portrays a world where the restriction of military intervention on foreign soil has been eased, fueling the need for private military companies (PMCs) to fight proxy wars for business purposes. Nanotechnology has become prominent, both to enhance the capabilities and enforce the loyalty of mercenaries. The nanos that are in the PMCs are called "Sons of the Patriots" or "SOP". The five largest of these PMCs (Praying Mantis, Otselotovaya Khvatka, Werewolf, Pieuvre Armement and Raven Sword) are owned by a single mother company named Outer Haven, which is operated by Liquid Ocelot. Amassing an army whose manpower rivals that of the United States, Liquid prepares to launch an armed insurrection by taking control of SOP. With the world once again in crisis, a rapidly aging and disillusioned Solid Snake is deployed into the Middle East by Roy Campbell to terminate Liquid. Guns of the Patriots takes place in five locations, including the Middle East, South America and Eastern Europe.
Close Quarters Combat(CQC), is something you may want to get used to early in the game, as it allows you to take out an enemy quickly without sounding an Alert. Here are some basic moves:
- Knockout Throw- You can knock an enemy out cold with this move. Sneak up behind your target, then grab him/her with R1 and move the Left Analog Stick in any direction to throw you enemy to the ground and they'll be knocked out instantly!
Note: This move can alert other enemies to you presence if done too close to them, so be careful!
- Chokehold- You can also grab and hold your enemy in a Chokehold. Just press R1 to grab your enemy and don't let go of the button. From here, there are many things you can do:
-Knockout: Hold R1 throttle your enemy until you knock them out. Continue to do so and you will kill the enemy.
-Human Shield: With a Pistol equipped, press L1 to use the enemy as a Human Shield. This is useful in combat situations, as enemies will stop firing for fear of hitting their ally, giving you a clear shot.
-Finish Off: Press TRIANGLE to slit the enemy's throat with your Knife. If you have the Syringe or Scanning Plug equipped, you'll use that instead.
-Drag: Move the Left Analog Stick to drag your enemy with you as you move.
- Hold Up- Technically, this isn't CQC, but it's still good to know. To Hold Up an enemy, sneak up behind them, and aim your weapon at them. Snake will say "Hands Up!" or "Freeze", and the enemy will drop their weapon and put their hands up. You can then perform a body search. Get up close to the enemy and press TRIANGLE when the icon appears on-screen to search the enemy for Items and Ammo.
Note: Pressing TRIANGLE at the right time will cause Snake to knock out the enemy.
The PMC Soldiers will be fighting Militia and Rebel Guerrilla Fighters in the first two chapters of the game. Whenever a battle between the PMC Soldiers and Resistance is being fought you can have an impact on the battle, you have two choices: 1. Try to slip through the chaos unseen, or, 2. Help the Resistance fight the PMC Soldiers. If you choose #1, it may be a good idea to check your map for routes around the battle zone instead of through it. And be sure you have some Smoke Grenades, they don't last long, but they can give you enough time to slip past a squad of PMC Soldiers. Option #2 is a lot more fun, but also a lot more risky. For one, the PMC Soldiers will be shooting at you if you get discovered, and Second the PMC Soldiers will go into the ALERT PHASE instantly! Utilize Grenades for taking out PMC Soldiers behind sandbags or in trenches, and Machine Guns for taking down enemies quickly. You can also try to find a good vantage point and snipe PMC Soldiers, but make sure that your weapon has a Silencer so that the PMC Soldiers won't see your muzzle flash. Make your choice and get moving!