Tuesday, 4 September 2012

Metal Gear Solid: Ground Zeroes First Impressions

The Facts

The Speech

  • At PAX Prime 02/09/12, Hideo Kojima personally appeared to publicly discuss the Metal Gear series, both past games and the two upcoming titles Metal Gear Revengance and Metal Gear Solid: Ground Zeroes.
  • Kojima surreptitiously stated that Raiden's lack of popularity was due to problems with the MGS2 project rather than the fault of the public.
  • Kojima described where the title Revengance came from. He stated that it was due to the aborted first attempt to make the game, the "Re-" prefix referring to Platinum retrying to make the game. He went on to state in his usual oddball idiom that it meant the team was taking REvenge on the previous project for failing, and that the game allows the player to take REvenge on the world by hacking it up with a katana.
  • Kojima's translator committed a bit of a faux-pas by stating that Hideo had made Okami, which was actually a product of Clover Studios and had nothing to do with him.
  • Kojima stated that he would like to make a main instalment in the Metal Gear franchise where the player can be The Boss (From Metal Gear Solid 3).
  • Kojima stated that if a Metal Gear film could be made, he favours Hugh Jackman and Tom Hardy for starring roles.
The Demo

  • Metal Gear Solid: Ground Zeroes is made with the Fox Engine, an in-house developed game software that Kojima claims is adaptable enough to be used in other game genres, such as First Person Shooters, Third Person Shooters, On Rail and Open World games.
  • The GZ footage shown features 5 minutes of gameplay after a ten minute introduction cinematic, all in engine. The build is functional as there are two versions found online at the moment; one which has Big Boss discovered moments after taking control, and another where he infiltrates closer to the base before leaving by helicopter.
  • The plot depicted Big Boss, wearing the Fox Unit insignia, infiltrating an American base in Cuba to rescue the characters Chico (Who was implicitly revealed on camera) and Paz. Both are characters established in Metal Gear Solid Portable Ops 2.
  • The plot implies that the original Fox Unit has divided, and a splinter group called XOF now operates separately from the original unit.
  • The officer in authority at the base is a ghoulish man who uses a light emitting device to erase the XOF insignia from a helicopter and has his men remove their own markings with the insignia as they leave the base.
  • The cinematic makes use of the song Here's To You by Joan Baez, a pro-anarchist anthem. A cover of the song was the ending theme of MGS4.
  • The game will not have a team based co-operative system such as was found in the Portable Ops games, although Big Boss will be able to call in air support with coloured smoke grenades. The player can even choose what music the transport chopper will play when it arrives, defaulting to Wagner's Ride of The Valkyries.
  • Big Boss makes use of a holographic device to view the site map of the base he is infiltrating.
  • The game allows the player to hijack vehicles, a concept Kojima had alluded to in the 2003 E3 MGS3 Trailer.
Check 8.00 onward, but it's a great trailer in and of itself.

My Impressions

Ground Zeroes shouldn't come as a surprise at this point, as Kojima has claimed his last four or so games were his final projects before retirement only to turn around and announce a new one months later.

It's now clear why Portable Ops 2 has been rereleased as part of the HD Collection and XBLA; Kojima wants to expand the user base of fans who are familiar with those titles before Ground Zeroes arrives.

With most players unfamiliar with Portable Ops 2, the idea of a whole game taking place at that point of the canon, with it's wildly anachronistic technology on display in the mid seventies and apparently a whole narrative spun around two characters only native to that series, fans and newcomers alike may feel alienated.

The vehicular hijacking, air support system and apparently more open environments seem reminiscent of games like Mercenaries or Just Cause. Hopefully the spirit of the series as stealth games can be carried on in this manner, seeing as MGS4 essentially devolved into a Third Person Shooter at many points due to the design choices the developers took there.

The rain soaked environment was reminiscent of MGS2 and the cliffside infiltration was akin to Metal Gear 2. Nice nods to old work as always from Kojima.

The Fox Engine looks gorgeous, but of course the real test will be whether or not the impressive quality of animation will improve gameplay rather than simply being ephemeral eye candy.

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