Metal Gear Solid 4. Looks like it's going to be good, doesn't it? But just how good, exactly? Just "Hmmm, this is fun, I'm glad I did buy a PS3 now" good? Or perhaps "There you go Hideo. My first-born child in recompense for this audio-visual wonder you have kindly bestowed upon my life" good?
One man knows the answer to that. His name is Paul Fitzpatrick and he's written the world's first review of the game for the UK's Official PlayStation Magazine. And he very happily gave it a none-better 10/10 score. The review will be in issue 19, which goes on sale on Friday 16th of May, but you don't have to wait that long. We have you see, spoken to Paul and found out exactly how he feels about the biggest game on the PS3 this year. Want to know? Of course you do.
One word of warning though. We've tried to keep this interview as spoiler-free as possible, but if you absolutely, positively don't want to even read a single hint of a seed of a scrap of a possibility of a plot point that you could extrapolate to work out the truth by the time the game comes out, click away now. In fact if that's the sort of person you are, why the hell are you reading this story anyway? Be off with you!
GamesRadar: First things first. This is the epic resolution to an epic saga and it comes on a Blu-ray disc. Just what sort of percentage of the playing time do the cut-scenes take up?
Paul Fitzpatrick: Hard to say. I didn't time the cut-scenes, but I completed MGS4 in just over 29 hours, and at a guess I'd say it was two thirds playing to one third watching. But that is a guess…
GR: How long did you spend finishing MGS4 for the review? What was your play schedule like and how how complete a look at the game do you feel you got? Anything you would have liked to take some extra time over?
PF: 29 hours and six minutes was my exact play-through time, and I saw everything I felt I needed to see to really get the measure of the game. I'd love to go back and play through with all the cool weapons and items unlocked of course. There are some beauties. Oh, and the play through didn't take in Metal Gear Online, which is being reviewed separately.
GR: The gameplay formula seems to have made the biggest single-game evolution we've ever seen in the MGS series. Does it still feel like a Metal Gear game despite that? If so, how have Konami maintained that essence, and if not, how have things changed?
PF: It totally feels like Metal Gear. The faction dynamic isn't over-used and when it is available is only ever an option, supplementing stealth. It was a bit of classic Kojima misdirection to suggest that everything would be tied to that. The characters, themes and to a lesser extent, the core controls and abilities are where MGS really resides, and they have remained the same, even if what you do with them has altered.
GR: The game seems to be made of a wider spread of game styles and mechanics this time. Is it still as focused an overall experience as we expect from Metal Gear?
PF: Yes, for the reasons above. Emotionally, there is some dilution as there are so many individual stories to tie up and resolve, but from a gameplay perspective it's remarkably focused.