EDUCATIONAL: MGS4 teaches you about the world through the director's, Hideo Kojima's, eye. The story is complex and the way it is presented can be convoluted; parents and children can discuss a better way of expressing his ideas, or what other mediums may have been more appropriate for his vision. POSITIVE MESSAGES: While the world of MGS4 is one of war, fear and violence, and some of the characters can commit acts of violence, the theme is one of pacifism. The game preaches against things that are affecting the world right now or may affect it in the future. POSITIVE ROLE MODELS: Snake isn't really a positive role model but you can only get the revered Big Boss award by killing nobody. The game encourages stealth, knockouts and tranquilising as opposed to combat; although some awards are for killing soldiers a certain no. of times. VIOLENCE: This is an issue. If the player chooses to engage in combat (which is not advisable, but an option) he can use grenades, mines, guns and knives to kill his enemies, each with a grunt/scream and splash of blood. If he has a soldier hostage, he can choose to suffocate him until he dies or slit his throat, which results in a large splash of blood. If he is injured, Snake's body suit may become stained red from his own wounds. In one section, he has to walk through a room of screaming, bloody, dying militia-men and he has the option to kill them all before exiting. There are also White Phosphorous Grenades, which are rather disturbing as they act like napalm and spread, burning everybody. In one sequence, the player has to hammer the TRIANGLE button to force Snake through a hall of microwaves which burn and almost kill him; in another, the main character contemplates suicide, which may frighten children. However, the game does encourage no-kills and pacifism and it is possible to complete the game killing only one person (Snake's twin, the final boss.) SEX: It is implied that two people have sex, and it is possible to squeeze a soldiers' testicles to incapacitate him; if you perform this on a female soldier they will punch you and mutter 'sexist/chauvinist pig.' Some characters are overly curvy and wear tight costumes and if you press TRIANGLE at a certain moment Snake will look up a lady's skirt (nothing shown.) LANGUAGE: Mild, infrequent cussing throughout. Nothing an 8 year old wouldn't understand and all teens hear worse at school daily. CONSUMERISM: None. DRINKING, DRUGS AND SMOKING: Snake smokes cigarettes, although it is not glorified and he gives it up in the end. Drebin, one of the supporting cast, is an alcoholic and he lets his monkey drink. Snake is given a drug injector which all soldiers use and can take anti-altitude drugs to stable his sniper aim. EASE OF PLAY: The controls are complex and yet easy. If you find it too hard, you're probably too young to play the game. PRIVACY AND SAFETY: There is online. VERDICT: From what I've said it sounds like a 'Not for Kids' but if you have any 11, 12 year olds you think are mature enough to cope with complex themes and some violence, MGS4 is a good choice and a brilliant game.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Safety and privacy concerns