Metal Gear Solid 4 - hands on

Every Metal Gear to date has been set in one location (Alaska, New York, Russia, Columbia), but MGS4 is the first with multiple environments, each different from the next. “Middle East is the first, South America is the second,” confirms Koijma, vindicating eagle-eyed fans who’d spotted South American building structures in the previous trailer, where Vamp scraps with Raiden. We’ve heard there’ll be five main locations, two confirmed, plus - our informed guess - Shadow Moses (spotted in the last trailer where Liquid and Solid scrap in Metal Gear Rex and Ray), Eastern Europe and, surely, Outer Heaven, the soldier’s paradise long envisaged by Big Boss. “The last location is a place you’ve been waiting to visit for 20 years,” teases Kojima Production’s Ryan Payton, doing little to deflect speculation.

One thing is sure: the series is going out with a bang. “The ending will be epic. People will talk about it for years to come,” assure Kojima Productions. Will Snake die? Don’t know - but we suspect a version of Snake will die, and, frankly, we’ve stopped taking bets on Ninja Raiden dying tragically while protecting Snake, hence cementing his hero status for all time. Metal Gear Solid 4 is mired in identity crises all round - from its lead character, to the controls, to the impossibility of pigeon holing it in any particular genre. But, despite it all, you can’t help thinking it might be the greatest game of all time for the same reasons, the rarest of beasts: a game you can’t predict, or dare to emulate. Playing the demo leaves you with the same feeling as brushing past a stranger who looks like an old friend - without saying a word, you’re ready to embrace them. Our hands-on impressions represent a translucent scalpel slice of Metal Gear Solid 4’s wider menu - but the ingredients are tasty enough to convince you that the remaining courses will tantalize, surprise, and satisfy like never before.