Heavy Metal

It’s the last hurrah for legendary video-game hero Solid Snake.

Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots
Konami; PS3

Ten years of saving the world on a regular basis would take its toll on just about anybody. But Solid Snake, the black-clad government agent who stars in the popular Metal Gear franchise, isn’t going gray because of job stress—the issue is a cloning process gone wrong (don’t ask). In fact, he’s aging rapidly and has only six months left to live—the game’s makers say this is really the end for Snake. But our hero will use his last days valiantly, in the quest to stop an evil corporation whose private army threatens to take over the globe.

As with previous installments, Metal Gear Solid 4 celebrates the fine art of the silent kill. Snake—whose gruff voice is again provided by David Hayter, best known as the screenwriter of the first two X-Men movies—must sneak up on enemies, knock them out and then hide the bodies. His goal is to avoid detection; if he gets into an extended firefight, he’ll likely be outgunned by hordes of bad guys.

In between the nail-bitingly tense game play, there are painfully long, talky cut scenes that allegedly advance the convoluted plot. They may not make much sense, but they do look stunning. There’s also plenty to laugh at: oddly out-of-place toilet humor, inappropriately flirty dialogue between characters and even girlie mags left lying around by horny henchmen (somebody call HR!). It’s almost enough to make you forget Snake’s inevitable demise. Of course, if Konami manages to sell several million copies of MGS4, we’re sure they’ll figure out a way to bring him back from the digital dead.