LOS ANGELES--Today at the Konami press conference, Konami showed off the hotly anticipated extended trailer for MGS4. While there was a three-and-a-half minute trailer on display during the Sony press conference on Monday, the big guns were saved for Konami, which dropped a full 15 minutes of apparently in-game footage on us. Stunning? Definitely, but not only for the graphics: Some of the storyline and plot points that were revealed left us reeling. Note that there is a big old SPOILER WARNING on this entire article, for those of you who are waiting for the trailer to hit the Net.
The beginning of the trailer is mostly footage that we've seen before, of ominous text overlaid on a scene of a militia-esque military force heading into battle with a PMC, or Private Military Contractor. A speaker in the background, whom we believe is Colonel Campbell, is talking about how America has exported too much military prowess to these PMC groups, which now have military manpower to rival even that of the US. Unfortunately for the US, the five largest PMC (essentially bands of mercenaries) are actually united under one dummy corporation, called Outer Heaven. And who runs Outer Heaven? None other than Liquid Ocelot himself, whom we'll remember from MGS2 as the personality of Liquid Snake from MGS1 that's inhabited the body of Revolver Ocelot. During all of this text, it's revealed that one of the militiamen who has ridden into the city and engaged the PMC in combat is in fact Solid Snake with a cloak for disguise, somewhat similar to the cloak he wore on the bridge at the beginning of MGS2.
The next few minutes of gameplay consist mostly of the text that was on display in the shorter trailer from the Sony press conference, with some extrapolations. Apparently, while all of the PMC soldiers have nanomachines in their bodies to enhance their combat abilities, they're unable to point their guns at their clients, a Robocop-esque twist of fate with unknown implications. While this text is scrolling, we see Solid Snake, who may've been officially renamed to Old Snake for this installment of the series, standing at attention, saluting at a grave that we recognize from MGS3 as the grave of The Boss. Otacon rather improperly lands a military helicopter in the graveyard, and informs Snake that they've found an old friend. Colonel Campbell (who insists that he's no longer a Colonel), who's in the plane, informs Snake that Liquid Snake has reappeared, in the Middle East. He's taken command of an army, and plans to launch an insurrection.
At this point, Snake is speaking to Naomi on his codec, and she reveals that he has only six months to live, and that his body is starting to decay. Up until this point, all of our views of Solid Snake have shown his face to be relatively normal, but of course that won't last much longer.
As this occurs, an extended action sequence occurs after one of the biomech Metal Gears happens to scout out Snake while he's hiding in a corridor, still in his disguise. Startled, he attempts to fire his rifle at it, but the bullets bounce off the metal shell harmlessly. Without anything left to do, he makes a run for it, and eventually makes it to a set of stairs set into a building. (This sequence was edited into the shorter trailer.) The Metal Gear is on the scene, though, as it grapples Snake with a extended whiplike cord, and begins to pull him down the steps. His formerly useless rifle, however, is able to cut the whip and set him free, after which the MG crashes through the weakened stairs and falls down a bit, allowing Snake to make his escape. Unfortunately, the MG manages to plant its legs into the walls here, making some movements that are distinctly uncomfortable for those of us used to seeing legs remain underneath our bodies; the legs here appear to have a full 360 degrees of rotation available to them.
As Snake hits the upper level of the building, he spots another MG off in the distance, and, startled, spits out his cigarette onto the ground. He quickly hides, but just afterward, the two MG's appear on the scene and begin their search. They quickly happen upon a box in the middle of the room, which is emblazoned with the motto "No Place for Hideo," which astute watchers will remember as one of the phrases used in the trailer for MGS4 from last year's E3. They scan it, and reveal a lumpy form inside the box; one of the MGs smashes it, but all that's revealed is a lump of watermelons. The two MGs look at each other, then apparently give up their search and leap off into the distance.
So where was Snake during all of this? Well, one of the watermelon rinds rolls across the floor and hits something, which instantly turns color to match the watermelon. The camera pulls back, revealing Snake leaning against the wall, having perfectly matched its texture. Apparently, his sneaking suit has morphed into a true camoflage suit. While not offering true invisibility, it appeared to be good enough to evade certain death in this instance.
Now we hit the list of returning characters, starting with Naomi Hunter, who was originally responsible for developing the FOXDIE virus that's been in Solid Snake's body since the original MGS game, and which may be slowly killing him in MGS4. She speaks of each generation's obligations not to leave their sins for future generations. Next up is Colonel Campbell, who says that the Patriots may be involved in Liquid's operations, although he violently opposed them in MGS2, and that Snake is the world's only hope. Meryl Silverburgh, last seen in the ending to MGS1 as she rode off into the sunset with Snake on his snowmobile, appears next, apparently as a new member of a Foxhound unit. What side this new Foxhound is on isn't immediately apparent, but given the history of the series, we'll muse on the possibilities of having Old Snake fight his former love interest Meryl at some point in the game.
Otacon makes his appearance next, telling Snake to "finish it" and asking him to make this their last battle. Liquid Ocelot appears now and compares Snake (we assuming he's addressing Snake, although he never appears in the scene) to Cain of the biblical Genesis story, who killed his own brother. This is apparently a reference to how Liquid Snake was originally infected with FOXDIE after coming into contact with Snake during MGS1. He asks if Snake is prepared to dig his own grave, which apparently sounds like a suggestion that Snake commit suicide. Crazy, right?
Well, in the next sequence, Snake appears to do just that. After brooding over his gun for a few seconds, and implying that his final mission is to erase his genes from the world, he puts a single bullet into his gun and...well, whether he pulls the trigger or not will likely be a topic of debate for the next year or so. We'll leave the speculation to you.
At this point, a fake ending to the trailer begins to play, shortly before the text "Raiden Returns!" appears onscreen. What happens next is difficult to transcribe from memory, but suffice to say that Raiden is definitely the inheritor of the quasi-unkillable Cyborg Ninja inheritance. His suit seems to embue him with superhuman strength, speed, and agility, allowing him to leap atop the six Metal Gears that initially attack him. He manages to dodge their blows, which mostly come as they attempt to kick him, while chopping their legs off and killing them in otherwise incredibly violent ways.
Our personal favorites include the moment where he leaps atop one of the Metal Gears and twists its turret so that it shoots some of its companions, as well as the moment when his sword gets knocked into the air. (Note that the sword appears to be just a normal metallic sword, not the special H.F. Blade that Raiden wielded at the end of MGS2, although we're not positive on this.) At this point, all he can do is jump around and dodge the blows coming his way, until he positions himself underneath the sword as it falls. He grabs it with his foot, and then starts to spin around, slashing at the legs of the Metal Gears until they're good and weakened. After they're stumbling around, he finishes them off by jumping onto their heads and driving the swords into their brains with his foot.
In short, the Raiden section of the trailer is wordlessly awesome, as most of you will find out on Wednesday morning, when the full trailer is supposed to hit the Web. If you've ever seen the film Casshern: The Robot Hunter, then you should have an idea of what Raiden's capable of. Until then, all we can say is that the trailer confirms MGS4 will appear in 2007, at least at this point in development. Stay tuned to GameSpot for more developments as they arrive.