Game’s first preview has fans scratching their heads and rolling their eyes as the innovative series seemingly resorts to a zombie apocalypse scenario.
Well, it sure didn’t take long for video game developer Konami to dump just about everything fans have known and loved about the Metal Gear franchise over the past two decades.
In the first installment to be produced following the awkward, protracted breakup between Konami and long-time series director Hideo Kojima, we get a quick glimpse of Metal Gear protagonist Snake and comrade in arms Kazuhira “Kaz” Miller, in the middle of the same battle that punctuated Ground Zeroes, the jumbo-sized playable preview to last year’s highly successful Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain. But whereas the camera in Ground Zeroes followed Snake and Kaz’s escape by helicopter and subsequent vagina bombing, the new game’s trailer stays behind on the flaming oil rig that served as Snake’s base to show something even weirder: portals appearing in the sky and sucking everything up into what seems to be an alternate dimension.
In this strange new land, Snake’s displaced subordinates face off against what look like rock/zombie hybrids, which bear a passing resemblance to the enemies infected with metallic archaea parasites in The Phantom Pain. That’s about the only similarity with anything from past Metal Gears, though, aside from an unseen giant, roaring robot at the video’s very end.
Instead of the tense atmosphere of solo sneaking operations, the trailer for Metal Gear Survive, as the game is titled, shows us a group of soldier scavengers wandering a scarred landscape together, fighting off the hordes of creatures with pipes, bows and arrows, and makeshift spears. Even the trailer’s tagline, “To get back home, fight together, or die alone,” stands in stark contrast to the defining Metal Gear themes of a lone operative bearing the risks of the mission for some sort of greater good.
Kojima’s eclectic tastes mean that supernatural elements have sporadically worked their way into Metal Gear’s hard-boiled military/political narrative. Aside from the aforementioned metallic archaea-corrupted enemies, vampires, ghosts, and psychokinetic powers have all been part of previous games. Still, they were used sparingly, adding an unsettlingly bizarre bit of punctuation to boss fights and backstories. Metal Gear Survive, though, places its zombie apocalypse front and center, and the trailer is already eliciting groans from viewers disappointed in the most clichéd of premises showing up in a series that always kept players guessing as to where its story was going to go next.
Granted, the trailer’s visuals don’t look bad by any means. They just don’t look anything like what gamers associate with Metal Gear’s tone or aesthetics. The character models all look a little too fresh-faced, and their movements too slick and weightless, for a series that’s been increasingly moving towards gritty realism in its graphics.
Of course, no one’s actually played the game yet, and there’s still the chance that it’ll be highly entertaining. After all, “Gather weapons and fight large groups of enemies” has been the framework of countless fun-to-play video games. But that just begs the question of why Konami has even bothered slapping the Metal Gear title on Survive, which almost certainly guarantees that it won’t be judged on its own quality, but by the preexisting standards of the other installments of a series it shows very little interest in fitting in with.
The trailer ends with the notice that Metal Gear Survive will be available for PlayStation 4, Steam, and Xbox One in 2017. Pointedly, it makes no mention of who’s taking over as director, and this timidity might be silently speaking to why Survive currently feels so unlike Kojima’s consistent hits. Like a new prison inmate who feels the need to establish his cred on his first day inside by shanking the biggest guy in the yard, so too does the trailer seem to be aggressively going after the previous authority figure. We’ll have to wait and see if this tearing down of Metal Gear helps it to grow back stronger, or simply causes the series to bleed out and die.
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