Metal Gear Solid 4 - first look

Hideo Kojima said he would show Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots gameplay soon - and he was true to his word. At Sony Computer Entertainment's PlayStation Premiere press conference in Tokyo today, he gave a 20-minute gameplay demonstration of the title. And yes, as if you had to ask - it looks great.

First things first - it still looks like a Metal Gear Solid game. The weapon and item inventories are present on the sides of the screen as before, and the main view is a third-person, top-down perspective. Graphically, however, it's a big leap forward.

Kojima's demo was played in the same Middle-Eastern location we've seen in the trailers. The buildings are all uniquely damaged and so the environments look that much more believable. There was a conflict taking place between a military presence and civilian guerrillas and Snake is able to help either side - or neither if you prefer. We still don't know how this will affect the story - whether taking sides will produce entirely different plotlines - but it's an interesting inclusion.

There were new gameplay features demonstrated, such as Snake's new Octo-Cam sneaking suit that has chameleon-like qualities. Touch a surface by lying on it or flattening your body to it in sneak-mode, and Snake will take on the coloring and pattern. "Nowhere to hide" indeed. Snake was also able to pretend to be a statue via the "active camouflage" option - you don't have to use the chameleon effect if you don't want to.

There were new moves showcased, such as a new knock-out grip involving the enemy's crotch (ouch) and the player now has the ability to search enemies with one hand while the other hand keeps them at gunpoint - all in much more realistic fashion than before. With online multiplayer also promised, we'd love to see the crotch death grip incorporated into it. Imagine the humiliation.

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