So good news and bad news, Metal Gear is back.
Today, Konami revealed Metal Gear Survive, the first game in the hit stealth series without creator Hideo Kojima’s involvement since Big Boss was having a lengthy nap, and you can check out the trailer here.
You might have heard that it’s a bit of a spinoff, set in an alternate dimension (okay) featuring co-op (excellent) and zombies (fuck’s sake). You also might have heard that not many people are all that happy about this. So we strapped some of the PSU staff into the interrogation chair and made them tell us what they thought about the trailer and direction for the series. It’s not all that positive, but they were naked, cold, and recently electrocuted at the time.
Tim Nunes, US Senior Editor:
”Can’t Say Goodby To Yesterday.”
There’s a special place in your heart for that first game that grabs you, that pulls you unto the world, won’t let you go, and you don’t want it to. Such as was the case with Hideo Kojima’s love child with 80s pop culture Metal Gear Solid.
From the first moment in the middle of MGS2 I saw a codec call between random people I had NO reference to, I was hooked into the universe. I’ve seen every game front to back, and I’ve seen the fabled “final installment" banner over three games before Metal Gear Solid V, so my hope continued to live on through the pain of a phantom limb with Kojima’s final, rushed, and incomplete foray. Still, an end is an end, even if it’s not the end that we want, deserve, or justify; but something has happened to Metal Gear, the very roots of my gaming foundation. The death of Metal Gear was somber with Kojima’s departure, but its resurrection is bastardized.
What made the franchise special, among so many other things, was the amount of little, silly things that broke the realism without really doing so, like the Patriot from MGS3 having infinite ammo due to a cartridge shaped like the infinity symbol or a wormhole that fultons equipment back to Mother Base: They’re there, they make the game what it is, but they’re not what makes the game move. Hell, there are psychics and government-controlling AI and bipedal nuclear machines running around. The franchise never goes too far into the nonsensical, justifying enough of the real and leaving the surreal as more of an additive to a much greater whole. With the help of Kojima, all of it worked in tandem perfectly.
Konami now has its hands on a couple assets: The Metal Gear franchise and the Fox Engine, which is designed to generate a AAA game on every available piece of reputable hardware there is, so they’d be stupid to let that go to waste. There’s a TON of untouched story left in this universe, and there are plenty of developers, producers, and creators who know the franchise well enough to make something at least to the level of fan service.
What kind of turn did Konami really make last year to lead them into what they’ve conceived for Metal Gear Survive? The concept of Metal Gear is an over-the-top, fully realized narrative with tons of Easter Eggs, crazy twists, and mirror-sheen gameplay that’s second to none. Where could zombies fit in, and how are they justified by an alternate timeline? If the theory is that a fulton wormhole malfunctioned, then Konami is digging itself into a hole it can’t get out of, pulling in the kinds of fans that look for zombie killing, all while alienating the fanbase that the actual Metal Gear franchise amassed over decades of excellence.
With all the potential in the world, Konami opted to take the lowest road it could and churn out a game with a major title on it to bang out a few bucks before moving on. A blatant jab like this may as well have been called Metal Gear Pachinko. If this is Konami taking the franchise seriously, then please bury Metal Gear once and for all and let the dead Snake lie where he fell so I can salvage what little of my childhood I have left (Tim has since salvaged his childhood).
Neil Bolt, UK Senior Editor:
”Snakes don’t belong in Alaska, or co-op zombie games.”
So V has come to again in a world of Metal Gear without Hideo, and the manner in which it did is simultaneously surprising and dread-inducing at first look. It’s not just the setting and genre that’s worrying fans, it’s how badly it misses the mark of Metal Gear’s signature daftness.
It was inevitable that Konami would utilize the Metal Gear franchise in video game form at some point post-Kojima. It is the company’s property after all, no matter how much stardust and madness Koj sprinkled onto it in the past quarter of a century. Yet to make a co-op zombie shooter in a spin-off of the established MGS universe sounds depressingly formulaic, a starkly obvious attempt at pandering to a crowd not often associated with Metal Gear. Yet on the other hand, doesn’t that entirely sound like the sort of silly buggers nonsense Hideo himself would hide in one of his games? Well yeah, but this isn’t him, and that’s quite important to keep in mind (like anyone could forget).
You see, if Kojima did do Metal Gear meets co-op zombies, it would probably be some sort of commentary on tired ‘me too’ formulas, and it would get taken into some truly silly places. For all the nonsense here with wormholes and crystal rhino zombies, this is about as fresh and out there as claiming you enjoy Breaking Bad.
To take Metal Gear into other genres is nothing new, we’ve had a skateboarding Snake, Ape Escape crossovers, card games and brawls with Nintendo characters among the many diversions to the series over the years and they sort of worked because they were quite obviously daft in the right manner, weird fourth wall-breaking stuff in the certain cases, and ludicrously silly in others. Metal Gear Survive simply can’t be any of that.
Something as overused and trite as a co-op zombie game is one of the least inventive uses of the Metal Gear franchise. It’s the wrong way of interpreting the series’ penchant for the absurd among the politics, history lessons and technology. It’s in the smaller moments of oddity in a Metal Gear that you find what makes the series unique, pushing a whole ill-fitting genre onto it and hoping that will do the job of making it seem off-kilter seems lackadaisical.
You know what though? It’ll probably still be a decent game at its core. You take those Phantom Pain mechanics, that FOX Engine, and throw them into all sorts of situations and you’ll find a rosy smell emanating off the result. The issue here is attaching the history of this series to something that could have been left out of the equation and been its own thing.
Ernest Lin, US Senior Editor and Social Media Manager:
”Love can bloom on the battlefield, just not this one.”
Going with a co-op zombies game is one of the laziest options Konami could have gone with, short of a port of the Metal Gear Solid 3 pachinko game. In the debut trailer, we are presented with plenty of atypical action shots starring generic-looking protagonists with no spoken dialogue or narration. Because screw words, am I right? Who needs words (that kill, whoa-ohh!) when you are slaughtering zombies!
Now, there’s a chance Metal Gear Survive could be a decent zombie action survival experience – it is using the gameplay foundation and FOX Engine used for Metal Gear Solid V. But (aside for marketing purposes) why even make it in the Metal Gear branded title? From what I can tell so far, Survive offers little addition to the narrative or themes thus far, nor any new or interesting ideas.
I’m sure the reception from critics and the public would have been more positive had this been a new IP, not to mention more freedom and less pressure for the developers. Sure, the Metal Gear name will likely help Survive sell more copies, but at what cost? Goodwill towards Konami is in short supply already. This is a budget project using a lot of existing assets and concepts, so it could have turned a profit without using the Metal Gear name.
John-Paul Jones, UK Senior Editor:
”There’s only room for one Big Boss, and definitely no zombies”
What are your thoughts on the Metal Gear Survive? Let us know in the comments!