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August 3, 2007 - No place to hide. In the midst of a battlefield. The stealth gameplay changes. Such are the terms and promises that Hideo Kojima, Metal Gear Solid 4's helmer, alongside Shuyo Murata, has promised PS3 devotees when the game is released early next year. But what will such new gameplay directions provide to a series that has, since its inception, promised 'Tactical Espionage Action'?

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Snake now thoroughly pats down enemies for items and can perform a nasty crotch-crush move. Ouch.

Here, point by point and hard-hitting blow by blow, are all the key facts that we've pulled from footage of the game, the various trailers and from interviews - all compiled into an essential list of facts and a small dose of conjecture.

What We Know:

Moves and abilities:
In addition to some new sneaking animations and better transitions between his moves, Snake has also added a large number of slick new spy moves to his repertoire.
  • Wall-facing sneak-shimmy, which puts you in a better position to pop off a cap.
  • Jump-roll-crawl over gaps, which effectively lets you jump small distances.
  • Side-to-side roll or slower, side-wriggle.
  • Slow-approach wriggle on the ground with an amusing humping motion effect.
  • You can roll forward and fire from on your back. From this position, you can also wriggle forwards or backwards and toss grenades from behind the safety of cover.
  • Snake can swing down and dangle from a flat surface to an edge or overhang.You can hide in trash cans but you'll come away a tad 'ripe' smelling, which can give you away to the enemy.

Copying textures with the OctoCamo:
  • When snake is on a surface that he can copy, a strange ring indicator with a wave-form effect appears around him. It's still unclear what this actually represents. He can then change the colour of his suit to blend in with the surroundings.

Revamped CQC (close quarters combat):
  • Disarm from behind technique:
    Choke-hold indicator gives you the option of killing your victim by hitting triangle.
    Pulling victim onto the ground and getting on top of his back, you can choke him until he passes out.
  • Hold-up, with weapon-steal.
  • Frisking for weapons and 'nut-crusher' move.You can align yourself with different factions on the battlefield for tactical advantages.

Aiming and perspectives:
  • Auto-aim helps line up headshots with the pistol equipped. New aiming perspectives are also introduced, including adjusted over-the-shoulder and first-person views.
  • While aiming, you can switch from left side to right side orientation.
  • While in first-person view, you can tilt around corners using the motion-sensing built into the Sixaxis controller. According to Kojima, the whole game can be played in this view, so if you've been put off by the mainly third-person perspective before, rest assured that MGS4 has you covered.MGS4 also features a full 3D camera, in addition to the simplified, westernised control scheme that is fully customisable - a move that should make the cumbersome MGS3 controls a thing of the past.

Metal Gear Mk. II:
  • Uses include stealth recon, thanks to built-in optical camouflage - effectively, the semi-transparency from earlier games in the series.
  • While not an offensive weapon, the Mk. II allows players to take out guards and enemies with a non-lethal electrical charge, much like Snake's new knife.We're pretty sure that the Mk. II will end up sporting upgrades to its abilities at some point during the story, too. Will they be offensive improvements, or merely tweaks to its reconnaissance abilities? Or none at all? We shall see.

Weapons:
  • Mosin Nagant Sniper Rifle with 5 rounds-cap and 3x Zoom:
    Unsilenced sniper rifle for snipey-good times.
  • RPG-7 with 2x Zoom:
    Your standard rocket propelled grenade launcher.
  • Books / Men's Magazines
    Apparently, in addition to containing naughty pictures of women that distract enemies, it can also cure nausea. Go figure. Now you can actually flick through the pages, just like a real magazine! Good to see where the research and development budget that should've gone into fine-tuning the AI went! Just kidding, guys. Sort of.
  • MK-2 Pistol with 300 rounds-cap:
    'Anesth' bullet selection lets you anesthetise your enemies instead of killing them. Since you can change ammo types, we'd bet that there are a few different varieties of rounds you can pick up, in addition to standard bullets and Anesth.
  • P90 machinegun:
    The coolest feature of the P90, in addition to a high degree of accuracy thanks to the pop-up reticule, is the grenade launcher.
  • Stun Knife with Charge Bar:
    For slashing and slicing, but also featuring a stun attack aimed at the back of the neck or presumably anywhere else on the body. While on the ground, you can now dangle your arm, which indicates to us that you can slash at enemies below you from above too. This is to be confirmed, however.AK-102 Rapid Fire with 300 rounds-cap:
    You fire over the shoulder or in first-person view for fans of more traditional FPSs.

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The stun-knife is an essential piece of non-deadly weaponry.

Items:

What's a new Metal Gear game without some cool new toys to play with in the midst of combat? Metal Gear Solid 4 offers a few cool new editions:
  • Solid Eye:
    Snake's digital eye-patch can scan the environment and features a zoom-like scope and a distance and scale indicator. In Solid Eye mode, an indicator on-screen shows you what mode you're in. So far we've seen Scope (zoom) and ENVG (thermal) mode which generates a neon-green effect over humanoids. There's also a battery indicator bar, which hints that the Solid Eye might run out of energy with overuse.
  • Oil drum:
    Gone are the cardboard boxes of the past. This is the 21st century and oil drums are all the rage. They offer better protection from bullets and you can roll around and bowl over enemies. Nice! Mind you, you get nauseous and throw up after too much rolling, which presents problems of its own. However, this item seems to present quirks and AI issues of its own. The thing is damned noisy, and don't try and convince me an enemy wouldn't hear you rolling towards him…;Rations:
    It's food. You eat it. You gain health. Easy.

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