Metal Gear Solid Casts Its Spell

Game's lead producer picks up a machine gun and battering ram - all in the name of realism.

TOKYO - Quite possibly the biggest attraction at this year's slow-moving E3, Konami's Metal Gear Solid induced cheers from spectators, even if the game was viewable on video tape.

Building on the mounting anticipation for the game, Konami released more information on the game in a presentation at the Tokyo Game Show on Saturday, following a wildly Japanese J-Pop concert.

Probably the most interesting aspect of the presentation was a rehearsed interview with the brains behind the game, Hideo Kojima and two of his associates.

Mr. Kojima, the game's lead producer, appeared with the character designer and a military consultant to elaborate on the great lengths they have gone through to make Metal Gear Solid as accurate and realistic a game as possible, as well as making it fun and tense.

In the early stages of the game's development, Mr. Kojima and company visited the Huntington Beach, California SWAT team to learn more about the "Tactical Espionage" that makes up a good portion of the game. Lots of footage highlighted the use of battering rams, explosives, guns, and tanks while the Konami staff watched and occasionally participated.

The videos also showed the humorous aspect of the game's development, such as Kojima-san's toothy grin while brandishing a machine gun for the first time and his slow chipping away of a door with a battering ram, followed by applause from the onlooking, sarcastic Americans when the door was finally open, if laying in pieces.

In addition to the SWAT team video, the various film clips showed many new scenes running on PlayStation hardware - all of them breathtaking. Sweeping camera angles and rich textures flaunted the game's marvelous graphics, while a yawning, stretching guard on the graveyard shift showed the game's mind-boggling attention to detail.

Also of particular note, it was revealed in an Anime-style graphic that Metal Gear Solid would reach Japan in the Year of the Tiger's summer (or as we might say in the USA, in the summer of 1998).

There was no mention of a US release date, however.

In a private interview with Metal Gear Solid's lead publicist Hiroki Tabata, I was told that Metal Gear Solid would have an extensive promotional campaign in Japan.

Mr. Tabata also said that the primary goal of the team was to literally make the best PlayStation game ever - something that they needed more time for. If the early screens are any indication, this goal could be easily attainable.

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