Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots

Common Sense Media says

Philosophical action game definitely for adults.





What parents need to know

Positive messages

Extensive violence occurs within the game, and there is the occasional bit of juvenile humor, as when a soldier is found with his pants down, relieving himself inside a barrel. However, the overarching theme is one of pacifism; everything our hero does is part of an effort to bring about peace, and he regularly laments the world's conflicts and its people's warring mentalities.


Gunfights abound throughout the game, and blood sprays from bodies when bullets find their marks. Players carry with them a knife used both for intimidation and as weapon with which to cut enemies' throats. Blood can be turned off.


Nothing explicit, but some of the game's women wear sexually revealing clothing and romances are implied. Players can use an adult magazine that has a photograph of a women in a bathing suit on the cover to distract enemies.


Coarse language is used sparingly and only in appropriate situations, but players will hear (or read) the occasional profane word, including damn, sh-t, and f--k.


The game part of the prolific, decades-old Metal Gear franchise, which has spawned mountains of merchandise, including books, comics, soundtrack CDs, and toys. Realistic ads for a variety of fake products can be seen within the environments.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

– Smoking is presented as a fundamental part of Solid Snake's character. As the game installs on the console's hard drive, players watch Snake take out a cigarette, light it, and slowly smoke it down to its filter over the course of several minutes. He also smokes a cigarette throughout the first chapter of the game.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this game is part of the Metal Gear franchise, which spans several games, books, comics, soundtrack CDs, and toys. It ' a violent and decidedly mature game featuring extensive and bloody gunplay and knife fights, as well as glamorized use of tobacco, romantic topics, and some profanity. However, the game's primary theme is one of pacifism. Its multitudinous narrative sequences include ruminations on the world's conflicts, lamentations on our culture's war-like mentality, and even touch on complex issues such as the problem of developed nations relying on arms-based economies. The philosophical nature of the game puts it in contrast with most other titles in the military action genre, which often make war and soldiering out to be alluring.

Parents say

Kids say

What's it about?

METAL GEAR SOLID 4: GUNS OF THE PATRIOTS is purportedly the final adventure for the tactical espionage action series' eponymous hero, Solid Snake. Though it takes place not long after the events of previous games, our grizzled, philosophical poet-warrior appears much older, due to an unidentified affliction causing him to age rapidly. His final mission sees him tracking down his old nemesis, Liquid Ocelot, while coming to terms with an unfamiliar world in which private military companies wage wars on behalf of corporations and nanotechnology augments the abilities of its soldiers. Between the lengthy and numerous cut scenes, players engage in the sort of third-person action for which the series is famous as they sneak about trying accomplish mission objectives and take part in the occasional all-out gun battle.

The Metal Gear Solid games have always been about good storytelling, and, unsurprisingly, the same is true about the series' fourth entry. Players will find they spend just as much time watching the game as they do playing it. Lengthy cut scenes that either show off Hollywood-style action choreography or feature characters elaborating upon the intricate MGS4 mythos pop up every few minutes throughout the game, making it feel, like its predecessors, more akin to an interactive movie than a typical shooter or stealth game. But that's no reason to avoid it. In fact, it could be viewed as the primary reason to play. The game's characters -- primarily our disillusioned hero -- have a depth rarely seen in video games. What's more, the game's story, unlike those of other popular shooters and stealth games, has a smart and important message about the evils of war and the difficulties involved in bringing about peace. It stops short of making any particularly shocking observations -- it feels less like Syriana and more like Political Science 101--but it's still quite satisfying to play a big budget game that attempts to tackle such complex and socially relevant issues.

Is it any good?


As for the actual game, it's one of the most polished action experiences available for any platform. From the tiny manufacturer's print legible on soldiers' weapons and uniforms to the video-realistic animations of the game's characters, it's a stunning visual achievement. Graphics aside, the play is refined and highly addictive. New gear includes Snake's Octocamo suit, which turns the same color and texture of any object he leans up against, the Metal Gear Mark.II (a little robot companion that Snake can take control of to scout new areas and interface with colleagues), and the Solid Eye, which covers Snake's left peeper and provides players with night vision, zooming capabilities, and a smart heads-up display that identifies enemies and objects. Getting a feel for the relatively complex controls can be tricky, but an innovative instruction manual that walks players through the game's first mission via instructive comic book panels helps ease players new to the series into game's idiosyncratic mechanics. The sophisticated 16-player squad-based online mode is just the icing on the cake. PlayStation 3 hasn't had much in the way of exclusive mega-games up until now, but Metal Gear Solid 4 fills that void nicely.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about how effective the video game format is at tackling such complex societal issues as war and the politics that drive world conflicts. Do the game's extensive story sequences do an adequate job of identifying and examining these problems? Do you appreciate having a "message" in the games you play, or would you prefer that they stick to action? How would you rate Metal Gear Solid 4 compared to other mature shooting and stealth games that focus more on action than story?

Game details

Platforms:PlayStation 3
Available online?Not available online
Release date:June 12, 2008
ESRB rating:M for Blood, Crude Humor, Strong Language, Suggestive Themes, Violence (PlayStation 3)

This review of Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots was written by

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  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

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Adult Written byKevin Lighter July 13, 2009

An amazing piece of art, but for those a little older.

MGS4 is possibly the best game of the decade. As an avid gamer and hard core nerd, I love video games, but this one takes the cake. ALSO: With the smoking bit, yes, while the main character smokes, it shows how much it hurts him. If you use cigarettes too much, you die, and during those loading screens, it gives messages saying, "SMOKING IS BAD FOR YOUR HEALTH." Plus, it has most other characters saying, "Snake, (The main character) you need to stop smoking. It's going to kill you." So take that little bit of into consideration.
What other families should know
Great messages
Great role models
Teen, 13 years old Written byrabid_reindeer December 12, 2010

If you don't have it, forget my review and just go buy it.

First off, there is so many things wrong with CSM's review. Pretty much the only thing they got accuratley was the five stars. Now, i'm not saying go out and buy this for your 1YO, but it and HALO are the mildest M-Rated games out there. The violence is pretty intense, you can slit throats, score headshots, and blow people up with some spurts of blood, but your are penalized for killing, you can turn off the blood, and the charachters in the game are against war, which you wont find in other shooting games. The langauge, well, I heard worse on an average day of fifth grade, which is sorta sad, but I think ill shut up and get to the point now-the langauge ain't pretty, but its better than Black Ops and Bad Company 2. And the smoking, well, you see it damages snake and he says he wants to stop. Pretty much it's fine for tweens as long as they're not going to run around pretending to kill neighbors with an airsoft gun smoking and wearing a bandanna.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much swearing
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Teen, 14 years old Written byPrototype79043 April 4, 2010


if u can turn the blood off, what's the big deal. All u would have to do then, is talk to your child about the magazine and how there demoralizing. This game should be age appropriate.


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