Now, I’m not saying Konami is dead in the water. However, I will say that they have no clue what their established audience wants anymore and they don’t seem to care. At Gamescom 2016, Konami put out a trailer for the newest Metal Gear game, Metal Gear Survive, with a level of confidence that honestly leaves me stunned. If you haven’t seen the trailer, here it is:
Some people have taken to this news with excitement at the idea of such a game. Admittedly, the idea of 4-player co-op survival horror sounds awesome. The trailer itself is flashy and pretty cool. Here’s the problem though. What we have been presented with is a trailer for a 4-player co-op, zombie survival horror game that is being pitched with stealth elements; the trailer is an oxymoron in itself as the game pitches “stealth” but we see our potential protagonists engaging in open hand to hand combat. Furthermore, outside of the supposed “stealth” gameplay, the idea of “4 player co-op, zombie survival horror game” is simply not Metal Gear.
The Metal Gear IP is one of the most notable franchises in gaming that has lasted for about two-decades on the premise of stealth gameplay and military espionage themes. Metal Gear Survive looks to throw out everything Metal Gear fans have come to love over the franchise’s illustrious history. Only to replace it with a zombie horror game, a theme which has already been beaten to death in the last generation of consoles. Only on occasion has Metal Gear’s formula been broken with games like Metal Gear Acid or Metal Gear Rising. I cannot comment on Acid myself, but having played Rising, it makes sense within the confines of Metal Gear’s mythos because its main character Raiden is a badass cyborg ninja. The fact that his full frontal combat style is already existent within the lore is what makes Metal Gear Rising okay. It stuck with the source material and created an outlet for a different style of gameplay without interrupting what Metal Gear was all about. As it stands right now, Metal Gear Survive has no respect for the Metal Gear series and what its director Hideo Kojima has spent half a lifetime creating.
But this isn’t just an isolated incident about Metal Gear. This has been a continued abuse from Konami for years now as Konami has taken nearly all of their beloved video game franchises and run them straight into the ground seemingly without a care in the world. Just take one look at their various franchises to see that any hope we have of them coming back is gone.
First off, the Castlevania series can only be described “stable” since its reboot with the Lords of Shadow series. Lords of Shadow has stripped away the classic side scrolling platforming and deep exploration elements and now sports God of War style action/adventure elements. Contra hasn’t seen a new iteration in five years. Nor has their popular JRPG series, Suikoden, been updated since 2012 with its last major console release being in 2006. But none of these compare to the absolutely unforgiveable treatment of the Silent Hill series. All it takes is one look at the development process behind the Silent Hill reboot, Silent Hills, to see where Konami’s head is at.
Silent Hills had boundless promise to bring back psychological horror in a way unheard of since Silent Hill 2, a game that is arguably the best, if not one of the best horror video games ever. Its playable concept trailer PT is a truly terrifying game and the trailer that came out for Silent Hills was horrifying in the best of ways. This is all not to mention that the creative talent behind the game included Hideo Kojima (a video game visionary), Guillermo del Toro (one of the most unique and influential horror movie directors alive today), Junji Ito (Japan’s foremost horror fiction writer), and Norman Reedus (the actor who plays Daryl Dixon on The Walking Dead). Silent Hills was poised to be one of the biggest events in horror video games for the better part of two decades. Without warning, and without reason, the project was cancelled and any hope of Silent Hill coming back to life died.
Instead, we were left with this:
That’s right, a Silent Hill pachinko machine. That announcement sure scared me!
I’m all for innovation and creative expression. It’s how art forms like video games survive, but this is neither. This is dismemberment and subsequent cannibalization of Konami’s beloved video game icons for nothing more than net gain. It is becoming increasingly apparent that Konami cares very little for quality in video game development anymore, which makes Metal Gear Survive’s introduction worrying.
Lastly, consider that over the last two decades, Metal Gear, a games series that has consistently pushed boundaries and paved the way for video games direction, has been reduced to nothing more than an attempt at pandering to audiences with generic overdone content. The Metal Gear series has a tried and true solid fan base that has existed since its inception, and it still manages to bring in new fans by keeping with the same themes but innovating upon them with each new game. If anything, Konami would profit more from keeping to Metal Gear’s core tenets of stealth gameplay and espionage themes. Instead, this radical departure from the Metal Gear formula will only serve to alienate longtime fans and confuse onlookers who have a definite picture of what Metal Gear is and is not.
As a diehard Silent Hill fan who watched the series go down without a fight and deep appreciator of Mr. Kojima’s work, I’m terrified of what Metal Gear Survive means for the series. Konami has a responsibility to Metal Gear fans, long time and new coming, young and old, fans who were born into a time playing Metal Gear from a young age and literally cannot imagine a world without it. Don’t do this to your fans. Please Konami, don’t do this to yourselves.