Metal Gear Solid V: Smoke and Mirrors, Madness and Payoffs

Kojima does it again, in more ways than one.

Posted By | On 28th, Mar. 2013 Under Article, Editorials


So it’s official: Metal Gear Solid V is really a game. The Phantom Pain portion was actually an epilogue whereas Ground Zeroes was the prologue, taking place 9 years before Snake – the Big Boss version – awakens from a coma in a hospital with a prosthetic arm. Other hints indicate psychics with similar stances to Psycho Mantis and, of all things, friggin’ unicorns.

It’s easy at this point to think that Hideo Kojima has gone insane. The man was no stranger to hitting us upside the head with shock after shock, whether he chooses to mislead you totally (Metal Gear Solid 2), show you tons of insane happenings (Metal Gear Solid 3) or simply combine the two into a smorgasbord of mind-melting insanity (Metal Gear Solid 4). However, Metal Gear Solid V feels different.

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As the continuation of a story that began with MGS 3, Portable Ops and Peace Walker. It’s a great approach, like another excellent addition in a masterwork, and hopefully MGSV won’t be the culmination of this so-called “Naked Snake saga”.

However, if the trailer proved anything, it’s that Kojima indeed knows what he’s doing. Essentially an auteur, the Metal Gear Solid creator has always believed in his vision shining through, no matter how insane or absurd or loaded down in exposition it becomes. The absurdity has become Shakespearean in some regards, and separates itself nicely from the hack-like nature of, say, Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance’s story.

There are several times where the vision threatens to overwhelm the game – indeed, Metal Gear Solid 4 was criticized for many of its clunky control aspects, especially given the increased focus of shooting in the game. To that end, Metal Gear Solid V at least appears to have inculcated enough improvements. The open-world nature of the title, in which you can rely on various vehicles and move fluidly about even on foot, is only the tip of the iceberg. The potential it presents is immense – whether Kojima Productions can properly utilize remains to be seen.

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Again, we haven’t seen much in the trailer. It’s hard to draw a bead on anything due to the sheer overpowering nature of the vision. Perhaps it was Kojima’s intention, to showcase these two diametrically opposite halves of MGS V fighting for control over the viewer’s interest while simultaneously not revealing too much about themselves. But the intriguing thing about MGS V that already puts it miles ahead of the so-called “next gen” games? Stuff is happening. Interesting stuff is happening. Nothing is typical or rote.

This isn’t the same MGS experience. Heck, name one tactical military title with a unicorn in it. For the ability to take risks and go places with the subject matter – and still deliver it convincingly – Kojima deserves praise.

And those are only the story elements; we still haven’t had a proper look at MGS V’s gameplay but dear lord, sign me up if it even partially indicates that I won’t just be running down some corridor, shooting some dudes, getting to some extraction point and suffering a horrific pre-scripted event I’ve experienced time and time again (okay, that was the beginning of the Phantom Pain portion’s escape from the hospital but still).

The maddening part? We could try faulting Kojima for his approach of just presenting bizarre elements, little snippets of his twisted vision, which he does again and again before finally sharing the finished product and challenging us to make sense of it all. But that’s the whole point: To get us talking about the game. To hype it up. To have us hungering for more details. And then the next trailer hits and the cycle repeats until release.

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It’s a formula that’s been perfected by this point. Forget the smoke and mirrors of Moby Dick Studios, bandaged faces (which some media outlets proclaimed as CG and an “example of the FOX Engine’s power”) and the entire AR teases – it was all just a publicity stunt to keep us talking about the Phantom Pain in relation to Metal Gear Solid.

Perhaps the most baffling development is that MGS V isn’t announced for next-generation platforms. But you know what? You just can’t be sure of anything when Kojima is concerned. We’ll wait till the game is near release before hedging our bets, but at least the legendary designer has mercy in one respect: If indeed arriving on the Xbox 360 and PS3, at least we won’t have to shell out the moolah to experience his next masterpiece.


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