TGS and the craziness (MGSV + Silent Hills)

It doesn’t really get any better than this.  Kojima has given us lots of new information and video, including the African jungle location, an AI buddy system, a pet wolf, and the return of the most iconic outfit in the Metal Gear series.  It’s glorious.

 

We learned that Quiet has ridiculous abilities, including the ability to turn invisible, move at supersonic speeds, and perhaps phase out of existence altogether judging by the way she simply shed those handcuffs back at Mother Base.  Whatever her powers, the most shocking revelation of all was that depending on how you play, you might not meet her at all!  What kind of game is The Phantom Pain going to be, if the main female character is optional content?

Nothing could surpass the introduction of a new character, however, in the form of “D.D.” — an adopted wolf-dog who eventually grows into a badass companion for war.

 

The gameplay itself is what fascinated me, however.  Big Boss can equip different prosthetic arms, which allow him to electroshock enemies, smash the ground for wide-radius sonar tracking of creatures, and the ability to climb cracks in walls.  He rides into the jungle on a helicopter, and apparently can jump out whenever he wants, which is dangerously close to my fantasy of being able to parachute down to locations as Big Boss freely.

The buddy system is designed to give players a strong incentive to maintain relationships with his comrades (in order to unlock better powers), find new characters to befriend, and basically not become a brooding lone psychopath in the middle of nowhere.  The fact that these are optional means that players will have to be vigilant, and get even more attached to characters whose fates are extremely unknown (ie. they don’t appear in future titles!)

 

Silent Hills

 

We also got a new Silent Hills concept video, which is disturbing.  Apparently its what Kojima and Del Toro discussed for the direction of the game, and it was made by just a small handful of artists at Konami using the Fox Engine.  There’s been a lot of positive reaction to it, but I’ve also noticed some complaints that it’s not very moody or eerie, but more of a parade of insanity.  It’s kind of interesting how big of a difference there is between a playable experience like P.T. and simply watching a video of something scary.  When you’re playing, turning a corner is a terrifying risk.  You almost don’t want to proceed, because you don’t know if you can handle what’s there.  It’s stressful.  A video like this simply can’t deliver that gruesome tension, where you control the pace.

It’s good to see that they are running with the series’ themes of sexualized horror, mingled with childlike innocence, and dark filth.

Ground Zeroes @ TGS 2013

Ground Zeroes was shown off at TGS this year, with a night and day demonstration.  Now we’re getting a much more clear idea of how the game will work, and even how its mission selection screen will look.

The amount of negative reaction is surprising to me, but I think it has a lot to do with the way Kojima has been showing us the game.  For some reason, Kojima must think we don’t understand the concept of an open-world MGS game, or he thinks the world will be stunned by the innovation happening, so he wants to play through scenarios and do commentary the whole time.  Unfortunately, this breaks the “story immersion” that makes Metal Gear games feel so damn intriguing, and thus it feels like just another stealth game.  Maybe that’s the real reason people are comparing it to Splinter Cell.

Confusion is another issue.  The Ground Zeroes demo is looking more and more like a standalone prologue that will be released independently from MGSV.  It’s frustrating that Kojima isn’t making it clear, and also doesn’t seem characteristic of his marketing style.  The gameplay is nice, but it would be a lot better if we knew we could pay $15 for it in two months, or $30 in five months, or something!  Maybe it’ll be free to play, who knows.

Anyway, equally interesting is the performance of Kiefer Sutherland, reading the same lines we saw in the original trailer.  I’ve always liked Kiefer Sutherland and I believe he should be an amazing fit for this role, but I don’t care for his performance here at all.  This is bad news.  I can only hope that its not indicative of what the rest of the game and The Phantom Pain will be like.  I have to wonder if Sutherland was uncomfortable with his working environment, and if the other “on-screen” actors will have similar issues: no doubt staring at a strange camera while wearing little dots on his face, self-conscious of his expression being captured and trying to match the timing demanded by the cutscenes, while delivering lines written as quick banter between old friends, but no doubt acting by himself.  Or maybe the doubters were right and he simply doesn’t care.  That would be a crying shame.

The gameplay itself looks very fast and responsive, with flexible options at every turn.  Diving to the dirt, swiveling, hopping, sprinting, climbing, it’s all very sharp and immediate.  Clearly this is not your slow, plodding, wait-for-animation-to-finish type of Metal Gear, which means that a skilled player should be able to deal with threats and get out of messy situations if they can prioritize and think on their feet.

The anti-air guns, armored personal vehicle, and rocket launchers all spoke to the need for this increased agility.  Big Boss is going to have to kick some serious ass in this game, as well as doing some serious running.  It makes me wonder about some things.  Like having a limited numbers of enemies in a base, and the option to kill all of them and run around freely.  The question of how different enemy groups in different parts of the world react to alarms, too.  Will the African rebels have a different strategy than the Russian mercenaries?  Variety is the spice of life.

Questions abound, and I’ll admit there’s a lot of key details missing, but I am optimistic.  No doubt the camp we’ve been shown is the most “basic” example of an enemy base in the game, with some of the most straightforward solutions for dealing with it too.  Who knows what kind of madness awaits in the full MGSV.  Let’s not forget who we’re dealing with here.

GamesRadar plays the TGS Revengeance demo

Below is a 16 minute play through of the Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance demo at Tokyo Game Show this year.  You really get a sense of what the game will be like when you watch, and the commentary the two guys make isn’t that bad either.  (Except the part where they say “Raiden is such a badass.  People were wrong to hate him in Metal Gear 2!”  As if he’s always been like this?)

Click here for the video

I haven’t talked much about Rising lately, but judging by this demo the whole thing toggles between flat and generic, and over-the-top silly.  So the real question is what kind of boring-to-crazy ratio there’ll be in the final game.  If they keep the player guessing with new gimmicks and set pieces, it might still be an OK game.

At around 10 minutes you see the new robo-dog character, who eventually becomes Raiden’s buddy.  It’s cheesy stuff like this that makes Rising so appealing, but I can’t help laughing at all the game journalists and fans who still don’t “get it”, and think that this is a typical, honest entry in the series.

See also,

A Metal Gear Rising Article