Editor’s Note: Hearing the news about Metal Gear Solid: Rising reminded me of a cool story from a couple weeks ago that got buried far too quickly. What do you guys think about Matthew’s ideas for the next Metal Gear? Where’s Raiden!? -Greg
The biggest fear we all harbor about the Metal Gear series is that it won’t be allowed to die gracefully, that it will be drawn out and milked for all its worth. Perhaps we should have more faith in the ability of Konami and Kojima Productions to remain faithful to the series. Or, perhaps, after some less than glorious outings on portable platforms, we should not. But there are some very strong points that anyone who is developing the scenario and game design for Metal Gear Solid 5 (or whatever the next main-series Metal Gear game will be called) should consider. Following are 20 mostly detailed points. Some are things Kojima Productions should do with the next Metal Gear; some are things Kojima Productions should not do. Some are things they would never even consider doing, some are things that would never happen in a million years, but have been included just to make sure. You can’t beat 100 percent. [This story originally posted on my Metal Gear/Kojima Productions blog, Metal Gear Scholar]
How to make the next Metal Gear awesome:
1. Cut down on the story. I’ve loved the story throughout the Metal Gear series. It’s fairly clear, however, that we are all ready for it to be toned down again. It’s telling that, when playing Metal Gear for the MSX, I enjoyed not being interrupted by cut-scenes. Ever. But that’s another extreme. Can we go back to the level of cut-scenes found in the first Metal Gear Solid or even the PlayStation 2 titles? Please?
2. Remake “previous story” in the Metal Gear series. Groan. It feels like this one is mentioned all the time, but how awesome would it be? An updated Metal Gear with some story? Why wouldn’t you want to fight the Shotmaker or Dirty Duck again? They’re fantastic! Zanzibarland (great name for a country) would be great imaged in 3D. Imagine the chase scene through the jungle, hiding behind trees as you follow the beret. And then making it through the swamp before fighting Running Man. That would actually be really cool. Sure, some elements would need to be rejigged, but they’re capable of that. And imagine the tie-in with Guns of the Patriots: Snake’s last days. He’s on his deathbed, recounting these stories to Otacon, who’s writing them down. How cool would that be? And with Kojima gone from the series (…maybe?), he won’t be around to complain that he wants there to be only new stories. Excuse me; I’ve got to go pitch this to Konami right now.
3. Redo Metal Gear Solid as an aside. Do it as some downloadable content in the meantime, while you’re working on the above. You’ve got most of the maps already. It wouldn’t take that long, surely? Actually, maybe it would. Scratch that.
4. Massive battlefield set pieces. OK, OK, OK…so you don’t want to redo the classic games. At least include the battlefield sections from Guns of the Patriots in some way, shape or form — even if in VR Missions or something. The Power Station segment in South America is so great that I keep a save there and load it up whenever I want to just mow down dudes. Yes, I even reinstall if I have to just to play that segment. I’ve done the same with the Ocelot fight at the end of Act 5.
5. Do not do away with the tactical espionage action. Stealth was still present in Guns of the Patriots, but this time the game didn’t force you to be stealthy. One would hope the natural progression would not be to downplay stealth all together. I’m sure a shooter from Kojima Productions would be excellent, but this is Metal Gear we’re talking about.
6. Do not implement a cover system. Cover is awesome. I love blindfire and taking cover in Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune, and I must admit I did kind of miss it in Guns of the Patriots. If I’m hiding behind these sandbags, why can’t I just hold my gun up and pop some dudes? But to tell you the truth, cover in Metal Gear would be a bad thing: The game doesn’t need to be made more actiony and more shootery. Doing so would lose the need for stealth all together. And besides, the cover fad is done, isn’t it? Wasn’t it just a ’07/’08 thing?
7. Do not revert to the Metal Gear Solid: Portable Ops system of individual missions, or include some sort of individual mission system. There’s a point in each franchise when we look at a game and think, “no, this is not as good as its predecessor.” Hopefully this won’t happen with the next Metal Gear title, but it did happen with Portable Ops, and even though strictly speaking Portable Ops didn’t have a predecessor, it still sucked. Have we reached the point now that we can all accept the gameplay in Portable Ops was crap? In Portable Ops we see what happens when Metal Gear is reduced to mission-based gameplay, a la the Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell series. No good. Metal Gear has to be a long, flowing narrative, since Kojima Productions enjoys telling a good story. Perhaps it didn’t help that, in an attempt to make Portable Ops more accessible to children and tweens (like Kojima’s son), the story was subpar for a Metal Gear game. But the whole idea of going out to an area with a team of four (your other three members hide in cardboard boxes while they’re not being controlled), grabbing whatever item or completing whatever objective you need to do after approximately a minute, activating as many alarms as possible along the way because it doesn’t matter, and then being magically transported back to the “truck” once you finish the mission is dumb and not Metal Gear. “By the way Snake, we’ll be waiting for you back at the truck when you finish.” Yeah, sure. Never again.
8. Include more CQC and make it easy to use again. I liked CQC (close quarters combat) in Metal Gear Solid 3. I thought it was great. You could run up behind dudes and shank them. A testament to how good it was in the third title would be me doing an only-CQC playthrough using no weapons, save for the areas where the game forces you to kill, like during several boss fights. I don’t know about you, but I never used CQC in Metal Gear Solid 4. Probably because I never needed to, but certainly primarily because I could never get it to work correctly for some reason. Now, sure, I didn’t try very hard, and maybe the CQC system had completely changed, but I’m sorry: pressing R1 and the triangle button when a symbol pops up on the HUD doesn’t cut it for me. I wanna hit the guy, not slap him with the handle of my handgun. More insulting was the fact that they reference CQC as if it’s some kind of a mystical force. “Nice CQC…real Big Boss!” Real Big Boss? No, I think not.
9. More secrets! All the fun extra things to do in Metal Gear Solid 2 and 3 were cool. You know, collecting all the dog tags across all difficulty levels, and all the Kerotan, et cetera. These were replaced with the emblems in Guns of the Patriots: not as fun, but still something to keep occupied with. Now, time to bring back some awesome gameplay features. Also, putting in some creepy stuff would be welcome, like the Easter Island statues in Sons of Liberty, or the ghosts in Metal Gear Solid.
10. Don’t shoehorn in unnecessary multiplayer. I didn’t play Metal Gear Online, mostly because the sign-up system is arcane, and because Jeff Gerstmann says it is bad. And I trust Jeff Gerstmann. Metal Gear is not a multiplayer game by nature. Syphon Filter 2’s multiplayer springs to mind: It was not that bad when you had a bunch of friends around, and it worked because Syphon Filter 2 wasn’t pissy about letting you pick up a gun and drop some dudes. By its nature the Metal Gear series was never an action game because the controls forced you to play conservative. One concludes that multiplayer in such a system would not work. I understand and appreciate the tactical, stealth-based gameplay of Metal Gear Online, but when I’m facing other people and when I have a gun, I just want to go out and find them, and destroy them, like in Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare. Metal Gear Online? Bomb Mission? No.
11. Don’t bring back the iPod unless you fix it. The iPod was a great idea in Metal Gear Solid 4 that was handled poorly. How awesome is this: You can listen to music on the battlefield while shooting up some dudes or sneaking by some dudes. Rad. Too bad the iPod takes up your item slot, not allowing you to actively equip anything, including the Solid Eye. It’s also too bad that you can’t stream any music from your PlayStation 3’s hard drive. Way to drop the ball. Who knows if it was done to avoid breaking an agreement with Apple, or if it was too hard to implement, or simply if Hideo Kojima wanted to make sure Snake listened to the right kind of music. We know Kojima hates rap and R&B, but did he really have to go as far as restricting all music? Couldn’t the design team apply some MP3 tag filter that restricted music with genre entries that Kojima finds objectionable? I can think of no greater thing that listening to “Sick, Sick, Sick” by Queens of the Stone Age while carving up the Beauty and the Beasts, especially Laughing Octopus (man, she’s hot). “Sick, Sick, Sick/Don’t resist/Sick, Sick, Sick/Don’t resist,” “I’m gonna take/I don’t wanna choose/I’m gonna take/I don’t wanna change.” Why, Kojima Productions? Why?
12. Do not go overboard on the product placement. I like a little product placement, because it brings a level of realism to the game world. Aside from the fact that the crazy dystopian nature of the world of Guns of the Patriots means the existence of iPods is improbable, the level of product placement in the fourth title in the series was acceptable. Assuming Kojima Productions continues to tie in real-world products (more Calorie Mate, anyone?), the frequency of these should not be increased to the level of driving past a Burger King billboard every 30 seconds in Need for Speed: Underground 2. Supposing they go back to the past, they could even place old products in there. You know you want Crystal Pepsi to make an appearance.
13. Do not include over 60 different weapons. I’m sure the people that bought and played NRA Gun Club probably loved Metal Gear Solid 4, but nobody needed all those guns. I was fine with the M4, and stuck to the Barrett Light Fifty for sniping, and the MP5SD and the SOCOM for closer range combat once I got them. Nobody used all those guns.
14. No live-action cut-scenes. Do not shoot live-action cut-scenes for the game. Unless, that is, they feature hot, hot women. Like that chick from American Idol that auditioned in a bikini, Katrina Darrell. She has a great butt.
15. Go full blast with the girlie pin-ups. What’s the point in sticking up one or two pictures here and there? If you’re going to have them at all, go all the way, like in Metal Gear Solid 2. Instead of watching Snake smoke, I could have been leafing through the January edition of Playboy’s College Girls.
16. Do not use Roman numerals for the title. We all know the next main Metal Gear title has to be awesome, or at least as good as Guns of the Patriots. As such, some would think it’s time to roll out the Roman numerals: the ultimate failsafe for a title struggling in development. Look at what other esteemed series have implemented such a feature: Silent Hill: Homecoming was originally called Silent Hill V; the sequel to Time Crisis was called Time Crisis II but was followed by Time Crisis 3…no, Roman numerals equal no good. Do not use Roman numerals! They are overrated. They do not add a sophisticated feel to a title. The Grand Theft Auto series would be fine if they used numbers for their titles. People read them as numbers, not as “I” or “IV”. The worst crime one can commit is starting a series with numbers and then jumping to Roman numerals, and then jumping back, and then back to Roman numerals, and then to numbers, and…
17. Don’t give all the women big breasts. EVA from Metal Gear Solid 3 had big breasts, but they weren’t giant: I’m talking giant like Rachel from Ninja Gaiden Sigma. Much like cracking out Roman numerals, it seems that when every franchise is failing, it’s time to crack out the boobies. And the large ones at that. We’re all guilty of giving out created characters in Soulcalibur 4 massive tits, but that’s of our own free will: when ever it’s stuffed down the throats — (you can stuff that down my throat any time) — of gamers it doesn’t seem to sit right. No, Ivy’s breasts are not hot, they’re just creepy. Hell, even Lara Croft was given a breast reduction, much to my chagrin. Lara’s always been a busty girl, but Metal Gear has never been a busty series — otherwise Holly’s sprite from Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake would have been much, much bigger.
18. Don’t make it into a beach volleyball sim. On the note of big breasts. Dead or Alive: Xtreme 2 is in its own arena, but there’s no need for Metal Gear to go there. Yes, seeing an updated Holly model would be nice — and I do love me some Holly — but a bouncy beach dating sim/volleyball sim/Playboy sim/Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition sim is not the way to go about it.
19. On the other hand, if you do include the sexy women, go all the way. You know, make it hot and heavy, R rated. Don’t hesitate to push all the chips in. Heavy Rain has confirmed sex; I hope they don’t stop short of some nudity either. If you want to be realistic, this is the price you have to pay.
20. Don’t bring back Snake from the (assumed) dead. Snake should have died at the end of the fourth game, and we all assume he’s gone. A sequel to Guns of the Patriots where Snake is still alive and is the player character would be bad (unless it is implemented as him telling stories of his past). It would be beyond bad — it would be terrible. Metal Gear Solid 4’s problem was already that Snake didn’t die fast enough. Playing as Old Snake again would make it one step worse.