Assembling a Metal Gear Solid Frankenstein

Shaun dissects the MGS series to share his thoughts on what should and shouldn't carry over to MGS5.

I've been spending a lot of time thinking about Metal Gear Solid this past month. I suppose that's to be expected considering I've also spent a lot of time playing Metal Gear Solid this past month. See, back in June I decided it would be a wonderful and not-at-all-ridiculous idea to go back and replay each game in the series from the original MGS through Peace Walker. Having just wrapped up MGS4, I'm very nearly done with this particular journey through the inner-psyche of Hideo Kojima.

The interesting thing about playing each game in rapid succession is that it really lets you see the threads that connect one game to another. Sure, Kojima and his team are pretty much hell-bent on never making the same game twice, but that doesn't stop them from borrowing certain themes and mechanics from older games (e.g., 4's twist on 3's stamina and camouflage systems), and wrapping them up in new ideas and ambitions. Each game has its own distinct personality, but there are clear building blocks carried from one game to another.

It all makes me wonder about Metal Gear Solid 5. Anyone who follows MGS news--and by that I mean Kojima's personal Twitter feed--knows that MGS5 is due for an official announcement any day now. So which ideas will it borrow from older games, and which will it eschew? In the time I've spent revisiting the series, I've constructed this sort of rough image of how I'd like to see MGS5 answer that question. So, without further ado, here's what I'm hoping to see (and not see) carried over to MGS5…

Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots

What to keep: Discrete acts. Prior to MGS4, the only real "chapter break" in the series was MGS2's transition from the Tanker section to the Big Shell section. Every other story has pretty much been one continuous trek through a specific part of the world. MGS4, however, used a five-act structure that sent Solid Snake all around the globe, venturing to five distinctly different locations in each portion of the game. It was a great way to add more geographical and gameplay variety in a way that still meshed with the overall story. I certainly wouldn't mind seeing MGS5 borrow this format.

What to lose: The Drebin Shop. I've always loved the way MGS games make you adapt to the tools you have at hand; how finding a random weapon in a random corner early on in the game can drastically affect, say, how you approach a boss fight at the end of the game. But with MGS4's introduction of the Drebin Shop, you could basically buy any weapon at any point, then slap a grenade launcher on it and call it a day. I can totally see why some people would enjoy the convenience of this system, but it really took away from what I loved so much about making do with what I happened to have on me at any given moment. The result was a game where I didn't feel as much need to explore each section of the game, knowing that most anything I missed could just be bought outright if I had enough Drebin points. I'm hoping MGS5 returns to a system that encourages more exploring and adapting.

Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater

What to keep: Varied and distinctive boss fights. I'm of the opinion that MGS3 has the best boss fights in the series by a margin roughly the size of mainland China. They're just plain fantastic. The battle of wits and endurance against The End? The pitch-black darkness suddenly burting into flames against The Fury? Seeing the ghosts of all you've killed against The Sorrow? Each fight is so distinctive, so brilliant. I'd love to see MGS5 return to such a varied selection of boss fights.

What to lose: One-dimensional villain. MGS3 is my favorite game in the series, so choosing something to ditch is a tough chore. But, gun to my head, I'd have say its use of a flat, one-dimensional villain. Volgin is just so over-the-top evil that it's almost comical. And that's fine! You don't need to show a vulnerable human side to make a great villain (see: Joker in The Dark Knight) but you do at least need some mystery, some intrigue. Volgin was just a cackling electrical storm of villainy. Here's hoping MGS5's nemesis is a little more fleshed out.

Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty

What to keep: The element of surprise. Remember when MGS2 swapped the beloved Solid Snake for an unknown kid named Raiden? That was one game that didn't care one bit about catching the player off guard. In fact, it reveled in surprising you. I think MGS5 is in the right position to borrow a page from Sons of Liberty's lesson plan. As the fifth numbered entry in the MGS series (sixth if you count Peace Walker), there's no better time than now to use the element of surprise to catch players off guard and challenge what they expect a Metal Gear Solid game to be. It doesn't have to go crazy with the cliffhangers and bizarre story twists, but looking back I think there's something to be said for MGS2's utter fearlessness.

What to lose: Level design. Despite the fact that MGS2 redeemed itself in my eyes after 11 years of disappointment, it's far from a perfect game. One thing I'd like to avoid seeing is the sort of constricting, confusing level layout that the Big Shell chapter suffers from. The whole hub-and-spoke design of the Big Shell offshore decontamination facility makes you feel like you're crossing the same bridge to get to the same strut over and over again. It makes the middle third of the game really drag compared to the beginning and end.

Metal Gear Solid

What to keep: Narrative focus. With the possible exception of a post-credits easter egg teasing an entirely new villain in the form of Solidus, I'd argue that the original Metal Gear Solid has the most tightly focused narrative of the series. That early on, there were few enough loose ends and stray story threads that Kojima and company were able to really keep the spotlight on Snake and his journey through Shadow Moses without too many side characters jumping in to say "Remember me!" Following the fairly comprehensive resolution in MGS4, it would be great to see MGS5 bookend the series with a more focused and personal story like the original.

What to lose: Overzealous Codec. 15 years later, the original MGS still holds up quite well. Except, perhaps, for the barrage of Codec calls you have to put up with early on. I swear, for the first half of the game Snake spends half his time crouched down with a finger in his ear listening to tutorials, introductions from new teammates, and God knows what else. Later games really found the sweet spot of making the Codec an optional tool for seeking out tips for boss fights or simply taking a breather when you need a break from the action. There's really no reason why MGS5 would return to this type of Codec usage, but better safe than sorry right?

So what do you think? Which elements from the older games do you desperately want to see in MGS5 and which could you just as easily live without? Let us know right here in the comments!

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341 comments
MCM078
MCM078

I also think that before MGS5 we should see another Big Boss game. I mean, we built Mother Base and ZEKE in Peace Walker, so now we should get to build Outer Heaven and Rex. And I hope Kojima sticks to most of the things in Peace Walker too. I think that's the Metal Gear game I've had most fun playing so far.

freddquadros
freddquadros

And no remakes please. I'm satisfied with the two originals Metal Gears, "Metal Gear" and "Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake". They were inovating in their own rights. Let's keep the respect for these classic games.

Hoski0999
Hoski0999

I would also love to see the team incorporation from Portable ops and Peace walker added somehow if it would work. It was like playing a grown up version of Pokemon where you would want to collect the strongest and best guys for your team.  I like the idea of managing a team like you did in the handhelds.

Hoski0999
Hoski0999

I do have just one issue with your article.. its technically the 7th in the series. I dont know why people keep forgetting about portable ops.  It is in the story line.  Boss meets Roy in portable ops, he didn't just magically appear for Peace Walker. Portable ops takes place right after 3, and before Peace Walker.

 

ACIDS DO NOT COUNT!  SNAKES REVENGE FOR NES DOES NOT COUNT!  thats not a jab at the article for it didn't mention these, but I can see people saying that "technially its the 9th or 10th", Though I liked the history they put into the acids and how they made a cool game mechanic for it, its not Kojima's work meaning its not a Metal Gear in the series.

trembo_slice
trembo_slice

Few games are made with the lasting power of the MGS series.  They are truly masterful productions.  With the recent announcement by Hideo Kojima confirming MGS5, it comes as no surprise to see other fans of the series revisiting each title -- something made a million times easier with the recent HD Collection release for XBOX 360 and PS3.

 

MGS4

To Keep:  player control/ player animation/ player movement.  MGS4 perfected the user's control over Snake.  The control scheme for MGS4 (and Peace Walker) blow away the control schemes for MGS, MGS2, and MGS3.  

 

To Lose: Drebin shop, The excessive amount of chases, and the ridiculously long cutscenes.  The bike chase on the boss extreme, no-kills play through makes me want to through my PS3 out the window.

 

MGS3

To Keep: interrogation of enemies captured in CQC, memorable boss battles, and the ability to take out the enemies weapons caches, food supplies, and other

 

 To Lose: nothing... just change the control scheme to MGS4 (with crawl, crouch, walk & the L1 aim, R1 fire weapon control).  MGS3 is the best overall game in the franchise.MGS2 has been improved upon in MGS3 (very similar control).

 

MGS

To Keep:  I agree 100% with Shaun on this one -- Narrative Focus.  The story unfolds much smoother and is a much more enjoyable experience in MGS than say MGS4.  

 

Also, I'm excited to see the what social issue Kojima takes on in MGS5.  Every MGS game focuses on nuclear proliferation.  They also focus on other social issues.  MGS is against eugenics (genetic engineering), MGS2 is against data collection (domestic spying), MGS3 makes one contemplate the differences between nationalism and patriotism, and MGS4 revisits all these themes again and ties them together masterfully.  

 

miserable247365
miserable247365

I'm actually about to complete MGS4, that'll be 7 games of the series (I haven't played and have no way to play Portable Ops) in chronological order. It took me a few months but it was well worth it. Especially playing through the first two Metal Gears. Over 12 years I never realized what "I remember that punch" meant in the first MGS. Re-playing MGS2 was better now because at the time, the whole Selection for Societal Sanity thing seemed ridiculous. But there really is an abundant amount of useless info on the net. Raiden was still too soft and whiny.

 

As for the next game, since all we know is Snake is in it and it's more infiltration based than MGS4, I'm really hoping it's 2 chapters. First Outer Heaven and second Zanzibar Land. I really felt MGS4 was an incredible way to end the story, so I'd rather not see any games taking place after that. Plus, Kojima could expand on the story to tie it to the MGS games.

Antillio
Antillio

All i wan't is a more nimble playable char, grandpa snake is done with, i want to CQC the hell out of my enemies without this akward system of suprise holding then R1 then triangle or then let go of R1 and press R1 again...ugh

 

This day of gaming it should be a easy to use hard to master fluid mechanic in the game.

logancread
logancread

Best patriots and game ever i had seen.

zoeyleft
zoeyleft

pretty good article...

 

ive been realizing all articles saying good stuff about mgs and/or developers-having-old-skool-attitude-where-they-like-to-patch-stuff-for-free makes me happy to read.

Syrkille
Syrkille

The Seventh* Game in the series

How come everybody forgets about Portable Ops. It has a place in the main storyline right after MGS3 and was a really good game.

Miss_Ocelot
Miss_Ocelot

A little off topic, but I would love to see a spin off of how the Cobra unit got together, perhaps ending with Sorrows death. 3 is my absolute favourite too, so in MGS 5 I would like to see strong interesting characters, and the option to learn about crabs. Also an Ocelot spin off wouldn't go a miss for me. 

shantd
shantd

I LOVED the drebin shop. I believe a currency system can add to any game it's included in. It makes your kills worth something. It actually can enhance exploration with the prospect of finding more currency, particularly if you're saving up for something. It adds value to the weapons/items themselves because you had to spent your cash on it. Lastly, there are some items that wouldn't make sense to find laying around under a rock (various types of scopes, for instance). I do agree with Shaun that having to adapt and use weapons & items in your environment is a cool feature, but there is no reason you can't have the best of both worlds in one game. It's a simple solution really: just make some weapons/gear unavailable via the shop and only available in the environment. Problem solved.

anshanlord
anshanlord

btw the lack of survivor mode in MGS4 really turned me off since I really loved that feature in MGS 3 and I think they should bring it back....More complex would be better....

anshanlord
anshanlord

I agree with pretty much all you said....I'd rather see The boss as the next protagonist....Although a world war II metal gear solid  would be quite stupid(Since there are like a billion games where you get to kill German soldiers and that's just not fun)....But it would be interesting....to have The boss as the main character, I just loved her...besides her Insane patriotic ideals her character was super awesome, and it would be refreshing for the game to have a woman as it's lead....Since pretty much 80% of important character have been men so far. And it'd totally make sense since The Boss has the same style as Big Boss and Solid Snake

GenomeSoldierDK
GenomeSoldierDK

I agree with everything you have written except for the one dimensional villain part. Yes Volgin was pretty one dimensional, but he was backed by another fantastic "villain" The Boss. I think everyone that have played Snake Eater or even Peace Walker will know what I mean by the quotationmarks. Also to quote The Dark Knight - either you die a hero or you live long enough to see yourself become the villain. 

jango195
jango195

Unusually I agree with all of your points there. Truthfully though, I enjoyed how MGS4 ended, and I'd have been perfectly happy if they never released another Metal Gear Solid game. Seeing as how it seems there will be an MGS5 announcement at some point in the near future though, I do have a couple of idea of what I'd like to see story wise for it.

Obviously the prequel idea which a few people have mentioned would probably be the most sensible, seeing as how Solid Snake decided to live out the remainder of his life in peace.

The other suggestion I have is a half sequel half prequel. If Hideo Kojima feels Solid Snake still has some ends to tie off, then I personally think it makes more sense to have the vast majority of the game set in the past, with Solid recounting the parts of his life relevant to the story of MGS5. Each chapter could be set during a different part of Snake's timeline, coming forwards through time, until the final chapter where Solid Snake can finally stop fighting. Off the top of my head though, I can't think of any antagonists left that could trigger a game like this.

blazinciber
blazinciber

I dont know why some thing tells me that the next mgs5 will be either a prequel or a in between story of either mgs game. (example. Peace walker)

penstrol
penstrol

Good article Mr. McInnis. Also, I have to say that if that ponce Raiden didn't appear in the next game at all, that would be just fine with me.

AngelsandDemon
AngelsandDemon

Seriously, they need to get Hideo a story editor...at least one for the North American version to control his maniacal narrative cut scenes.  One reason why MGS for the PS1 was so great was because of the appropriate length cut scenes which drove the narrative.  I get that he originally wanted to be a film maker and the success of MGS probably gave him great creative liberty with the series in its proceeding titles, but MGS4 was overly self-indulgent and took away from the game.

gotenks570
gotenks570

i think they should re make MGS 1 with better quallity and HD on ps3 it would be amazing and they should add more options And more fight moves Like CQC and Hold enemy Up and everything on MGS4 they put on mgs1 with Better AIM 

Hoski0999
Hoski0999

Correction on my part, its the 8th in the series.

 

coelulton
coelulton

 @trembo_slice agreed... the ONLY other thing i dislike in MGS1 was not being able to shoot in first person.

Morphine_OD
Morphine_OD

 @trembo_slice hahaha. The bike chase on the boss extreme, no-kills is the most interesting thing in MGS4. It's called "The Boss Extreme" for a reason. You can't keep up with it - lower the difficulty. It's because of gamers like you we got every second game play itself.

Hoski0999
Hoski0999

 @solidsnakehd People just want to go "pew pew" and not enjoy the ride... its sad but at least we get to enjoy an outstanding game that people actually worked hard on and not just re skinned old garbage.

freddquadros
freddquadros

 @Syrkille And the plot of Portable Ops was, in my opinion, better than Peace Walker. It's really a good game, with a inovative mechanic [recruitment], and some memorable characters, Gene on the top. One of the best vilains of the series.

solidus2_1
solidus2_1

 @Syrkille

 Theres a total of 8 games. Metal Gear, Metal Gear 2: Snake Solid, Metal Gear Solid, Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons Of Liberty, Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater, Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns Of The Patriots, Metal Gear Solid Portable Ops, Metal Gear Solid Peace Walker.   Then theres the new rising and now mgs5 which will make 10. I'm only naming the ones that take place in the same universe/timeline

freddquadros
freddquadros

 @shantd For the scenario of MGS4, the "War Economy", it was a necessity for the game to feature a shop, a form of commerce. It is tied with the plot, with the idea of war becoming something mundane, and weapons a normal product. But MGS5 don't have this need, it can be diferent. I believe that we will see it like PO and PW, we have a Base where our weapons/equipment are developed.

Hoski0999
Hoski0999

 @shantd System was broken though, it was more of a cheat then it was a "enhancement".  It felt more thrown in at the last minute.  I have to agree with the article, you have to acquire on mission.  That is one thing that has never changed in MGS, aquire all weapons on mission.

penstrol
penstrol

 @AngelsandDemon Couldn't agree more, and I say this as a hopeless MGS fanboy. MGS1 had the most satisfying story by a very wide margin.

miserable247365
miserable247365

 @gotenks570 Twin Snakes on GC. Just remaster to HD and re-release. But it was made by Silicon Knights which is 2nd party to Nintendo. Sadly, I don't see Twin Snakes, or RE0 and the REmake for similar reasons, making it to any Xbox or PS.

MCM078
MCM078

 @Morphine_OD Do you have anything useful to say mate? Or do you just like to annoy?

trembo_slice
trembo_slice

 @Morphine_OD Why would I want to lower the difficulty when I had to get through it to earn the Big Boss Emblem? A fixed-routed bike chase isn't exactly my favorite part of the game.  What does your last sentence even mean? 

Hoski0999
Hoski0999

 @solidus2_1 Of course thinking about it now... I posted something similar above not realizing this was here so bravo to you sir... but... Meta Gear, and Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake are not MGS, they are MG.  He could be simply referring to MGS and I did not think of that.  I consider it the 8th still.

Morphine_OD
Morphine_OD

 @Ranathos  @trembo_slice  You've won the argument indeed - I'll be glad to get the same shit, because I like it. And you'll get the same shit and will rage on the interwebz all over again because you didn't and because your MGS vision is the one that Kojima needs to stick to. LOL, I can't even type that shit with a straight face, how can you?

Ranathos
Ranathos

 @Morphine_OD  @trembo_slice

 And you just proved your ignorance with that comment. This arguement is over. I've won. You're just some 13 year old with nothing better to do than argue over a subject you know nothing about. Keep kissing Kojima's ass. And you'll keep getting the same shit.

Morphine_OD
Morphine_OD

 @Ranathos  @trembo_slice yeah, because you think so. And look at you - you don't even try to make it sound like there could be any other opinions on that. That's fucked up.

Ranathos
Ranathos

 @Morphine_OD  @trembo_slice

 So what if it was in MGS3? It was one place, an entirely different scenario, and it fit well there. It has no place in MGS4.

Ranathos
Ranathos

 @Morphine_OD  @trembo_slice

 So if 5 people believe its right to murder an entire family, but one person disagrees with them, the one person who spoke out was fucked up? Great logic, man.

Ranathos
Ranathos

 @Morphine_OD  @trembo_slice

 "This sequence has passed numerous QA checks and producer filters and still is a part of the game" Just goes to show how fucked up the devs really are. Thank you for proving my point.

Morphine_OD
Morphine_OD

 @Ranathos  @trembo_slice btw the "no matter how many times you bitch and moan about it, and try to insult me about it, its not going to change" part is ironically about yourself. This sequence has passed numerous QA checks and producer filters and still is a part of the game, and you can bitch and moan about it all you like.

Morphine_OD
Morphine_OD

 @Ranathos  @trembo_slice Basically you think it's not MGS because you don't like it. Great logic. Maybe you are gonna be the next MGS producer and whatnot maybe you Kojima in disguise?

Ranathos
Ranathos

 @Morphine_OD  @trembo_slice

 I have multiple Naked BBE runs. I have no problem with completing the bike chase. Difficulty has nothing to do with it. It doesnt belong there. It worked well in MGS3, but that was a totally different scenario. People like you are the reason there are so many fucked up games out nowadays. You just suck up to the devs and never point them out when they've fucked up on something. It's NOT mgs, and no matter how many times you bitch and moan about it, and try to insult me about it, its not going to change.

Morphine_OD
Morphine_OD

 @Ranathos  @trembo_slice MGS3 had the same bike scene and it was "thrown in" as a throwback to the events of MGS3 when Solid Snake's father was riding in the same fashin with the Solid Snake's surrogate mother, EVA (Big Mama). It was VERY MGS thing to do and it was essential to Kojima's storytelling,

 

Sir, you fail miserably. The fact that you don't like the part doesn't mean it doesn't belong to the game. In fact the chase is not even that hard on normal. It's about 3-5 minutes in length, so you just suck at game.

Ranathos
Ranathos

 @Morphine_OD  @trembo_slice

 It's not that it's hard, its that it has nothing to do with anything. It's just a random Bike chase thrown in at the last minute to make the game seem longer. It's tedious, frustrating, and it just ISNT MGS. Its like putting platforming in a GTA game or a FPS section in a puzzle game. It has no business being there.

Morphine_OD
Morphine_OD

 @trembo_slice Big Boss Emblem is supposed to be VERY HARD to get, even the difficulty is named EXTREME. You wanted a cakewalk? Go play COD or Uncharted.

 

My last sentence means that because gamers like you demand everything to be easy, we get games which are as easy as it gets and almost play themselves.