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I've never played any of the Metal Gear Solid games before and I think I've just made the mistake of jumping straight into MGS4 without a clue. It seems that a few minutes after choking out a guard, he gets back up and immediately calls in reinforcements, so I'm wondering what's the point in choking them out in the first place - wouldn't it be better to find another way past an enemy or just outright kill him, and if so, why is there an option to choke them in the first place?

Also, should I even bother playing the game non-lethally during my first playthrough? Is there any way to permanently keep enemies down without killing them or am I playing the game wrong?

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I don't believe there are any overt game bonuses for playing lethally vs. non-lethally, but there are many intangibles based on playthrough. There are badges you get at the end of the game based on how you played, for instance, whether you destroyed everything in your path or were silent and stealthy. There are also specific things you can obtain if you defeat certain bosses non-lethally. (Again, with no actual bonuses.)

It's been a while since I played, but from what I remember, if you put them down non-lethally and got yourself far enough away before they woke up, no help would get called, or at least it would get called to a place I wasn't at.

As to why it's there...it's to let you play in the style you wish.

  • Thanks. It also transpires that they only briefly enter Caution after coming to, not Alert (which doesn't seem to be a problem if you've moved on); I've read up on the different types of enemy alert modes now and have a better understanding on it. I do wish this game did a better job of explaining its mechanics - such as a tutorial - though, but maybe that's my problem for not playing the previous games. – Connor May 22 '14 at 19:01
  • Speaking of which, all the weapons with blue icons are stun weapons. Some weapons can take both lethal and stun ammo. I remember not realizing that for a long time. – Steven Burnap May 22 '14 at 19:20
  • There are 'secret items' that can only be aquired through non-lethal play throughs. – Ender May 22 '14 at 22:27
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What's the point in choking enemies in Metal Gear Solid 4?

If you're playing at The Boss Extreme difficulty level and want to do a complete non-lethal run, you will find that the number non-lethal rounds you can carry are very limited and you cannot by them from Drebin. To save them for tougher situations like boss fights, choking 'smaller' enemies is one of the method.

Also, should I even bother playing the game non-lethally during my first playthrough?

If you feel it's too hard, just do a lethal run first. Then if you want to give yourself more challenges, go gradually from easy non-lethal run to The Boss Extreme non-lethal.

Is there any way to permanently keep enemies down without killing them

One way is to do a hold-up in crouch stance (crouch behind the enemy without being noticed, when close enough, equip a weapon and point at him/her [L1 then R1]), then press R1 without moving the Left stick to grab the enemy, after the grab, release and tap R1 while moving the Left stick to any direction, then do an hold-up again. If you success the enemy will lay on the floor face down and will stay in this position unless you trigger an alert phrase. But there are some areas in which this method does not work, mainly the war zones where the PMC and militia are actively fighting each other.

am I playing the game wrong?

Nope. Lethal or non-lethal, it's all up to you. But there exists some rewards which are available only with non-lethal finishes. One of them is the Solar Gun (awarded by finishing the FROG fight and BB fights non-lethally and get the figure they left), which is a very powerful non-lethal weapon and an essential one for getting the Big Boss Emblem.

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