Metal Gear Survive is the first Metal Gear game produced by Konami since Hideo Kojima's much publicized departure form the company. The trailer for this game was revealed at Gamescom last week and it hasn't gone down well with fans. Described as a four player stealth co-op game featuring Zombies, the internet has exploded with comic memes and angry video rants since it premiered.
As a fan of the franchise myself, I was a little disappointed with Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain, Kojima's farewell to the series, and have posted about it being one of the games that I haven't finished yet in Unfinished Business...4 Games I Have Yet To Complete, but that disappointment doesn't even come close to the way I felt after seeing this...
If you've never played a Metal Gear game before then you're probably wondering what all the fuss is about and think that everyone is acting like a bunch of cry babies, but before you judge, take look a look below to see why fans are so upset.
The Premise Makes No Sense
The story begins where Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes ends, with a surprise attack on Mother Base completely destroying the forces amassed by Big Boss. The trailer shows Big Boss fleeing the doomed base in a helicopter. As he escapes, a wormhole opens up in the sky, sucks the remnants of the destroyed base and its survivors into an alternate dimension. Once there, players must work together to scavenge the remains of the base scattered around the land in an attempt to rebuild it, while fighting off hordes of zombies, that appear to be made of crystal.
The Metal Gear franchise is no stranger to silly story lines, in fact, that's part of it's appeal. As bonkers as it is, there is a rich seam of originality in it all. The crazy ideas are presented as something new which makes them compelling . When you add in Kojima's brilliant 'breaking the fourth wall' touches (Psycho Mantis reading your memory card in Metal Gear Solid or Zero's rant instructing you to 'turn off the game' in Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty) the whole thing just knits together and you forget that it is mostly absurd.
The synopsis above on the other hand just seems lazy and is contrary to the whole Metal Gear universe. Alternate reality stories are often the hallmark of a writer who has run out of ideas. There are exceptions to this of course, but in this case, it seems clear that Konami didn't want to spend time crafting a story that would fit into Kojima's universe. Someone at Konami said 'just chuck in a wormhole and have them sucked into another dimension...that'll work!'
It's not just lazy writing, it's also lazy symbolism. The wormhole acts as a metaphor for the separation between Konami and Kojima, on one side the old Metal Gear history now lost and forgotten and on the other the new alternate version that Konami is setting up, allowing them to pretty much do whatever they want.
Which brings me to the next point.
Kojima's Metal Gear has given us wonderfully memorable enemies to fight. From Sniper Wolf and Revolver Ocelot through to the Cobra Unit in Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater, each had their own characteristics and personalities. In fact, characters like Sniper Wolf were so beautifully created that it didn't matter that they were the bad guys...we still loved them. To throw Zombie enemies into the mix is unoriginal to say the least.
If this had been stand alone DLC from the last Metal Gear game, then it might have worked; much like Rockstar's Undead Nightmare, the DLC from Red Dead Redemption, but to ask fans to accept it into Metal Gear lore is an ask too far. It doesn't even work as a spin-off like Metal Gear Rising, which at least stuck to the Metal Gear mythos.
Granted, Metal Gear has had it's fair share of enemies with supernatural abilities, Vamp for example who appeared to have all the abilities of a Vampire, however these 'powers', are usually revealed to be the result of experimentation with Nanotechnology.
The addition of Zombies to a game appeals to a certain type of gamer and it's that market that Konami have squarely aimed this game at. In doing so they are telling the fans ,'this game is not for you'. They know who their market is and are willing to wave Zombies like bait to entice them in.
It's A Co-Op Game Not A Stealth Game
For me, and probably most fans, this goes against the very core of what Metal Gear games are about. I've always liked the idea of Snake/Big Boss being like a ghost, working as a lone agent with the ability to slip into the most secure base, gather the information required and slip out again without being noticed.
This was part of the problem with Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain. Although it gave you the option to approach each mission with stealth, it didn't seem to matter, as you could equally do what Miley Cyrus once sang about and go in like a wrecking ball with all guns blazing, destroying everything in your path, and still achieve success.
Working as part of a team isn't an alien concept to fans of Metal Gear. Metal Gear Online has existed as a side franchise for years, and as a side franchise it works...play it if you want to or don't play it if it's not your thing. To introduce that co-operative style of play into the main game doesn't feel right.
"Metal Gear Survive will offer a fresh take on the series' famed stealth elements but within a unique co-op setting that is designed for a truly engrossing multiplayer experience."
Tomotada Toshiro, Konami European President (Source: IGN Gamescom 2016: Konami Announces Metal Gear Survive)
It's interesting to note that the usual 'Tactical Espionage Action' tag line that accompanies Metal Gear games is missing from the Metal Gear Survive logo, and I'm not buying Konami's claims that this is a stealth co-op game. This is a four player co-op game, plain and simple.
The premise for Metal Gear Survive also indicates the presence of what appears to be a base building feature, (a further element of Metal Gear Solid V that didn't really work) which will in all probability introduce a microtransaction system for better upgrades (this has not been mentioned by anyone but when it happens remember you heard it here first).
An Ending...And A Beginning
They say that hindsight is a wonderful thing and looking back at Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain I feel that its failings as a Metal Gear game point to the general direction that Konami wanted to take the franchise - the focus on action over stealth, the introduction of community play, and microtransactions. And now that Kojima has gone they are able to realize that.
To put it simply, Konami has taken the franchise away from the fans and used the name to create an entirely different game that they believe they can make money from. As a company they have every right to do that, and as fans who have bought in to the franchise, not just with our hearts and minds but quite literally with our wallets, we will naturally cry out when we see the thing we love taking a wrong turn.
And let's not forget that, as a franchise, Metal Gear has existed for almost 40 years, meaning that for some fans it has been in their lives for as long as they have been gaming.
There is some small hope for fans as full details of the game have yet to be released, and we all know that you shouldn't judge a game on a single trailer, but the indications are that Metal Gear Survive is moving the series in a new direction and it's unlikely that this will change now. As with all things, time will tell if this move will be a success.