The recent Metal Gear 25th Anniversary event at the Tokyo Midtown building did not only chronicle the history of the series in dramatic fashion and showed off new bits of Metal Gear Rising, but also introduced the next installment of the Metal Gear Solid series, complete with new workings of the new Fox Engine done up by Kojima Productions. While we can't actually show you the footage of Metal Gear Solid: Ground Zeroes that was shown since we were told not to do direct filming, at least we can tell you about what we saw during the 20 minute demo.
The scene starts in a remote military base with heavy rain. The camera is following a shadowy figure in a business suit and hat accompanied by a number of well-armed soldiers and guard dogs as he converses with a little boy in a cage. He throws a portable music player after some dialogue and the boy proceeded to use it. The rest of the scene was playing "Here's To You" from the film "Sacco e Vanzetti" (also on Metal Gear Solid 4) as the man in a coat rides off to an airfield before taking off on a helicopter to an undisclosed location. Before erasing the "XOF" emblem off of the helicopter, he took out his hat and speaks about what transpired in very vague words. His face and head was all burned-up and scarred with no hair; at this point in time, we have no idea who he is. He proceeded to toss away all a stash of mini "XOF" emblems as he flew off with the rest of the soldiers.
After that, out comes a spy climbing from a cliffside near the base followed by the subtitles "From FOX, two phantoms were born". As he flips up his visors, we saw the trademark eyepatch and gruff face with the facial hair: Solid Snake seems to be back at a glance. He's referred to as Snake; no, not Solid Snake, Old Snake or Naked Snake, just Snake at the moment, so there's a chance that he could be some clone or someone posing as Solid Snake. Whatever the case, he definitely looks much younger than Old Snake in Metal Gear Solid 4. Old-school fans yearning for the days of a nimbler stealth action hero can sigh with relief at this revelation.
Series creator Hideo Kojima then took centrestage and showed off the title's gameplay for a few minutes. We see Snake do what he does best: go in a prone state and sneak around (no Octocam this time; just old-fashioned crawling and hiding), as well as going into aiming mode in third person shooting a nearby guard at a security post. We should also mention that the demo gave out a sandbox open-world vibe; the military base itself felt expansive and huge, and Snake can summon a helicopter to bring him around as well as drive a jeep to go from point A to B. Kojima did state that he wishes to add a new spin to the stealth genre; even when you're discovered, you can use all the means and tools to escape rather than see a "game over" screen.
We would love to see how future demos of this would unfold; adding a sandbox element to the story-heavy Metal Gear series and having everything open-ended seems like a daunting task.We have to also state that the Fox engine looked really, really good.Everything about the demo was completely real-time. The demo itself was running on a PC and was played using an Xbox 360 controller. Nothing was spared in terms of detailing and fidelity, from the lighting and shadows during Snake's sneaking bits to the vehicles and character models in motion during the heavy rain. So far the game and its engine was designed with the PS3 and Xbox 360 in mind, but Kojima stated that the engine itself will cater itself for next gen consoles.
No release date has been announced for this upcoming entry in the Metal Gear series. We don't even know if Kojima may even pull a protagonist switcheroo (as seen in Metal Gear Solid 2), or if the open-world concept will gel well with the already vague and cryptic narrative. We don't even know which era this is all taking place in, although we gathered that it was set in a modern period, what with the jeeps and helicopters. What we can say is that Snake is back in the game and fans can look forward to more current gen tactical espionage action.