Packing Heat

Guns, guns, guns. The Supreme Court says they’re as desirable as apple pie. They’re certainly advantageous in video games. If there were no guns, there’d be no semiauto rifles to plow through cops in "Grand Theft Auto IV." There’d be no shotguns to blow away farmers in "Manhunt 2."

Without guns, there’d be no fully automated weapons to fetishize and fantasize over in "Metal Gear Solid 4," which is so patriotic, it has the word "guns" in the subtitle, "Guns of the Patriots."

"Guns of the Patriots" is clearly the solo-mission game to beat this summer, and it should be regarded as a great work of art. I’ll get to that in a second. But it’s newsworthy that, since the Supreme Court just ruled in a 5-4 throwdown that the Second Amendment gives us the right to bear arms, we are bearing them.

In "Guns of the Patriots" alone, you can equip yourself with: three submachine guns, five assault rifles, four sniper rifles, two shotguns, a machine gun, a missile launcher, a tranquilizer gun, five handguns, two hand grenades, a stun grenade, four smoke grenades, two mines, C4 explosives, and you can top off your guns with scopes, suppressors, laser sights and rifle grips.

You need all those guns, because the year is 2014, and you are an old hero soldier who must shoot through heavily populated battlefields in the Middle East, Africa and beyond in a very long action-adventure where villains and their expendable troops are rising up to conquer territory, yada, yada.

The futuristic guns of this war are technologically locked. That is, each soldier’s gun fires only for him or her. If you pick up a dead man’s rifle, it won’t shoot, because you don’t have the right computer chip to unlock it, although you can hire a gunrunner to fix it for you.

Pretty nifty, right? Maybe the Supreme Court could approve a law demanding such technological safety chips someday. That way, children won’t grab daddy’s gun and accidentally kill each other with it. But I wouldn’t hold my breath.

"Guns of the Patriots" is pretty close to a masterpiece and contains some of the most addictive gaming of 2008. Battlefields come fast and furious. The game lasts forever. Cinematic film scenes go on for so long that as one scene rolled on my TV in the background, I cooked lunch, ate it and fed my cats. There may be a whole movie of scenes in "Guns."

Then you go online to find the same level of artistic detail accompanying multiplayer battlefields, which are littered with broken autos, half-destroyed homes and concrete rooftops that look strikingly like concrete rooftops, right down to sun stains and oil splatters.

There is serious thought to ponder in the plot. Narratives and dialogue depict a world at constant war. Characters explore literary themes of mortality, individualism, the rise of machines and interpersonal relationships.

Most of this is credited to co-writer-director Hideo Kojima, a legend in the gaming industry who retired a few years ago after he created the often stunning "Metal Gear Solid 3."

Alas, some gun-crazy fans of the "Metal Gear Solid" franchise were so upset, they forced Kojima out of retirement to make this new game. How did they convince him?

They sent him death threats.

Guns. Aren’t they just awesome?


("Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots" by Konami retails for $60 for PS 3 — Plays addictively fun. Looks amazing. Moderately to very challenging, depending on which settings you choose. Rated "M" for strong language, suggestive themes, violence, blood, crude humor. Four stars out of four.)

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