Snake? SNAKE? SNAAAAAKE?!?!
Yes, the all too familiar wailing of Col. Roy Campbell as you take one sniper hit too many on your way to neutralise the threat of Metal Gear REX [Metal Gear Solid]. Hideo Kojima’s story came a long way over his tenure at Konami, spanning from 1918 to 2018 [Metal Gear RISING]. Whilst the latter games in the series have often been criticised as convoluted, or too full of cut scenes (particularly in the case of Metal Gear Solid 4), it still remains one of my personal favourite franchises.
I particularly enjoyed Metal Gear Solid V; even though its open world was a large departure from the rest of the series, for me it worked very well. There are always different ways to tackle each scenario, either going in all guns blazing, or stealthily taking out your targets and escaping before Big Boss is caught.
Of course, the ending was highly disappointing for me just as much as it was for everyone else. It had clearly become a victim of Kojima’s grand vision, with Konami no longer having the patience to see out its full development cycle, ultimately leading to the departure of Kojima from Konami. Since then, he has formed his own company and began work on a new supernatural looking title: Death Stranding.
Since his exit, we have only seen one game come to fruition; the negatively received Metal Gear Survive. A departure in everything that Metal Gear has done in the past, it almost seemed destined to fail. Add to that the lack of any type of exposure that Konami has put out for Survive, and it’s almost like even they never expected any form of success.
So what next for the great Metal Gear brand? Here are three things that I think would revive the franchise and move it forward post-Kojima.
Forget Solid Snake et al – Start a New Story
This is kind of obvious, sure, but let’s not forget that Konami will be very much enticed to keep the characters from the Kojima-era entries around to keep players interested. Another main entry featuring Big Boss, maybe even Solid Snake? I know a lot of Metal Gear fans would pre order just for those facts alone, rightly or wrongly.
Regardless, the fact of the matter is that the storyline has been pretty much fleshed out as much as possible. MGS V plugged in the gaps that were missing after MGS3, and MGS4 deals with the end. It’s time to leave this timeframe behind, and look to the future; perhaps Solid Snake is idolised by the masses, or maybe the dystopian future that MGS had always warned about is developing, despite Solid Snake’s (or Old Snake, as he is in MGS4) best efforts.
Get that Fox Engine working where it should be, in big environments with plenty of missions to complete. Obviously, open world games based in cities are difficult to create, because of the amount of work involved creating the environments. But I can picture it now…New York City, locating a crazed group of Germans who happen to take over the One World Trade Centre, led by Hans Gruber…
Metal Gear RISING 2?
This is cheating a little bit. But, my point here is that is doesn’t have to be all super-serious like the Metal Gear Solid series; Metal Gear RISING was, again, a major departure from the rest of the series. It featured Raiden, first introduced in MGS2, the game that really divides people in two – those who enjoyed the Big Shell oil tanker, and those who hated the design. Particularly the section where you need to go back through and arm all the C-4 explosives. “Raiden, turn the game console off now!”
Platinum Games did release an image in 2015, used by Sony in a PlayStation 4 reel, seeming to suggest that a sequel was in the works. Sadly, this was downplayed, and we’ve heard nothing of it since.
It seems to me that Metal Gear die-hard fans can be quite resistant to change, but MGR was a successful spin-off. It kept the character of Raiden largely familiar to that of the MGS entries, particularly after the events of MGS4 and him able to fight without his arms. It garnered good reviews too, with copies selling exceptionally well in Japan, and in the United Kingdom beaten only by Crysis 3, which obviously had a much wider appeal and was released on the same day.
HD Remasters - in the Fox Engine
Imagine the tattered towns, broken by war in MGS4, remastered in the impressive Fox Engine? The lush, sprawling forests in MGS3 re-created to almost lifelike fidelity?
I can hear you shouting, “We have the HD collection!” That’s right, we do, but it would be nothing compared to a re-imagining of all the major entries in the Fox Engine. Of course, for me this has been a pipe dream for many moons, but I can’t help but wonder how fantastic it would be. Having all games available on one recent platform – PC included – would surely be a major hit, just as the Metal Gear HD Collection was. Worldwide, the Metal Gear Solid series has sold approximately 49 million copies.
This would be perfect with a brand new Metal Gear series too. Get gamers back familiar with the story of Big Boss and Solid Snake, and start a new story years after MGS4.
Now that Kojima Productions is no more at Konami, there are really not many franchises that they continue to develop. Looking at the games that they have published in recent years to the PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC, the only title with any kind of success is Pro Evolution Soccer. There has been much publicity made over the fact that their Pachinko games are more profitable – but that will be the case if the only video game you develop is PES. They might have exclusive UEFA and Barcelona rights, but FIFA is now in a seemingly unmovable position as number one.
The development of Metal Gear Survive at least tells us that there is some interest within Konami to continue on without Kojima. I just hope they do it right, and don’t create some microtransaction-filled battle royale mess that the Metal Gear name simply shouldn’t touch.
“Building the future and keeping the past alive are one and the same thing.” [Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty]