UPDATE (June 19th 8:56 PM):
I finished Act 3 and a part of Act 4, so there will be my opinion on that here soon. Germany is currently playing against Portugal in the quarterfinals, so there's little time.
My mind was blown throughout the whole end of Act 3 and the beginning of Act 4, more on it later.
UPDATE (June 18th 1:19 PM):
*Act 2 spoilers*
Another 1 1/2 hours later the previous mentioned flaws are all but forgotten. The area I started in, right after the boss, was an open area sneaking extravaganza á la MGS3 par excellence. I was able to use the NV, radar and the OctoCamo how I wanted to and it worked. I even fooled the FROGS for the first time in the game, even though they could hear the sound my NV made. I was able to take my time, explore, toy with the guards, sneak up on people and completely replenish my stock of rations, instant noodles and Regain, which were lost in the two hours before, without being spotted once.
I had a blast.
The next area, the driving mission, was a lot of fun, except for the "zombies", which kept annoying and distracting me. A lot of the atmosphere was thanks to Drebin's awesome voice work and his superb driving skills. A lot of Gekkos were hurt in the process.
It just kept on getting better. The following cutscenes and the marketplace area, although too small, were fucking incredible.
MGS4, you've completely won me back.
UPDATE (June 18th ~7:50 AM):
Firstly, be amazed by the OctoCamo. Yes, there's more than grass in this picture.
*Act 2 spoilers*
I only played for about 2 hours yesterday and those weren't the most fun I had with the game up to now. That may partly be because I either suck or am playing the game wrong, but the intrusion into the mansion was way too hectic and unforgiving to me. My strategy so far was to eliminate/narcotize every PMC on the map and then run around and find all the hidden weapons/items/music. Not such a good idea with infinitely respawning (a concept that I HATE) enemies. I especially don't want to miss any music pieces, so I always feel like the game makes it way too hard to look for them in these situations. It also didn't seem rewarding to try the sneaking approach at that moment in the game, which felt weird. I think I should be utilizing the OctoCamo more but somehow it still doesn't feel natural to me.
The other part that that felt wrong was the fight against Laughing Octopus. I pretty much always go for stamina kills because the game rewards you for it, and it took a loooong time to accomplish that. Maybe I used the wrong weapons (stun grenades, tranquilizer gun) or the wrong strategy, (grenades while she is following me, headshots while she is hiding/mimicking) but I couldn't think of many other options and, sadly, CQC didn't work at all, which I found out in a very fatal way.
I ultimately did beat her though, and facecamo was definitely worth the hassle. The little doll seems useless but is a nice thing to have as well.
All these things were a slight impediment to my enjoyment of the game but I don't think they will detract from my final opinion too much. The game is still very, very awesome.
Also, the scene in which Snake's aging body is shown made a big impression for me for some reason. He seemed very sad and weak. The whole scene helped a lot to make me empathize with Old Snake. More of that, please.
UPDATE (June 16th ~11:30 PM):
*slight spoiler/theory territory from here*
My theory right now, which my brother largely came up with, is that the game will re-use scenarios from the previous Metal Gears in reverse order. Act 1 was MGS4, every trailer we saw before the game was exactly this setting, so this represents MGS4 . Act 2 is a setting with a rich flora and fauna, a day/night cycle, just like MGS3. So we suppose Act 3 will be a Tanker/Big Shell (Mei Ling's reported ship?) scenario, Act 4 a Shadow Moses/snowy/military base scenario and possibly Act 5 an Outer Haven scenario? It would be very awesome.
I love how everything from the past Metal Gears is recycled, or rather paid homage to. The names of the Bosses (Laughing Octopus = The Joy + Decoy Octopus, Crying Wolf = The Sorrow + Sniper Wolf and so on) the aforementioned areas, the characters - I did NOT expect to see Rosemary again and even less in this very awkward relationship - the fantastic level of detail and the little things that are there to find, including the user-triggered flashback sequences. On a sidenote, I can't quite understand why ANYONE would trust Colonel Campbell ever again, but maybe I will find out over the course of the game. Right now it seems highly unreasonable.
I will not comment on the story or the themes and topics used, promoted and criticized until I finished it. There is too much room for a complete turnaround in a game like this.
This is the game I bought my PS3 for, GTA IV was a impulse buy triggered by the immense hype and ultimately, I was quite a bit disappointed with it. Metal Gear Solid 4 alone though, is worth every cent I paid for the console.
I can't wait to play more of it.
(Original Post: June 16th ~11:00 AM)
Better late than never. Please excuse me for the next few days.