Fortunately (or perhaps wisely is a better word for it), Konami has decided to release an interactive encyclopedia to complement Metal Gear Solid® 4: Guns of the Patriots and help players understand the intricacies of the various "Snakes" and their tales (tails?).
While I'm a bit surprised it wasn't released before Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots I am still thrilled that Konami Digital Entertainment has announced it will provide the Metal Gear Solid 4 Database as free download (see EA, you don't have to charge for every download) via the PlayStation store on June 26th.
According to Konami the Metal Gear Solid 4 Database is "designed as a complement to the long-running Metal Gear Solid series, the Metal Gear Solid 4 Database is a comprehensive archive detailing characters, weapons and plot elements from 1987’s original Metal Gear title right through to the most recent Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots." Let's just say that's a whole lot o' confusing content to cover. Hopefully the MGS encyclopedia will make sense of the tangled tale.
The Metal Gear Solid 4 Database has in interesting design, organized around three main areas: GENE (a glossary), MEME (which maps the relationships between characters in the series), and SCENE (a time-line for the series). Players can move from page to page using keywords much like an online encyclopedia. In a bit of a twist, all information relating to Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots, can only be accessed when the software detects a save data file created when the game has been completed, as to avoid spoiling the final adventure. Konami is obsessed with controlling how players interact with the Metal Gear Solid 4 content.
Kudos to Konami for showing that beautiful, and useful, DLC doesn't have to come at a price. After all, while Metal Gear Solid 4 may cost $59, being able to understand the story is priceless.