Flipping through our copy of the July issue of EGM we were surprised to see that the editors passed up a coveted pre-release review of Metal Gear Solid 4 for ... a roundtable discussion? Turns out there's a pretty significant explanation. Here's what EGM has to say verbatim (emphasis ours):
"Metal Gear Solid 4 will hit store shelves shortly after this issue of EGM lands in your hot little hands. And four EGM editors -- Matt Leone, Jeremy Parish, Andrew Pfister, and Shane Bettenhausen -- have already invested plenty of time in the game. So why don't we have a full review in this issue? Simply put: We weren't happy with the limitations Konami wanted to impose on our comments, and rather than publish compromised reviews in the interest of being the first to rate the game, we'd rather wait until next issue, where we can be completely open and thorough with our thoughts. In the meantime, our MGS4 vets sat down for an informal chat about the game (and remember -- [once the limitations are lifted] you can find the full review on 1UP.com!)."
The full list of limitations has not been made public (Any readers out there seen the list? Care to share?), but MTV has posted two possible limitations, naming the length of cutscenes and the size of the hard drive installation as two topics that are potentially off-limits to print reviewers. Strangely, these limitations do not seem to be fully imposed on online reviewers (Eurogamer writes freely about both topics in its review), though IGN UK does vaguely acknowledge that "Konami issued us with a list of things that we're not allowed to discuss," adding, "[the] list of prohibited topics is pretty long, and even extends as far as several facts that the company itself has already made public." (It's worth noting that IGN UK confirms later in its review that one of the prohibited topics is the "total length of cutscenes," before going on to state that the cutscenes represent "about half of the content of the game.")
Clearly, Konami has issued certain limitations on pre-release reviews. The scope of these limitations and who they extend to remains unclear. (Also unclear is the potential penalty for violating them, as IGN UK seemingly does.) Still, if EGM understands these limitations to be review-compromising factors, should all pre-release reviews under Konami's guidance be filed with an asterisk?