Feature Article

Moving Beyond Consoles: The Future of Metal Gear Solid

Konami's Metal Gears.

There are many relevant video game series that began in the 1980s, but very few have retained their cachet as well as Metal Gear has. After 27 years, it seems as though interest in the legendary stealth series continues to grow, and though dozens of hands touch each game, including notable Metal Gear vets Yuji Korekado and Ken-ichiro Imaizumi, it's director Hideo Kojima and art director Yoji Shinkawa who are widely regarded as the head chefs in the kitchen. Without Hideo Kojima, who convinced Konami to support a stealth game during the golden age of hard-hitting, arcade-style action, Metal Gear wouldn't exist. Without Yoji Shinkawa coming on board for 1998's Metal Gear Solid, the series wouldn't enjoy the same impactful visual style that it's known for today.

I recently got the chance to speak with the pair during a visit to a Kojima Productions facility in Nasu, Japan, but before jumping into a discussion about Metal Gear Solid V, I couldn't help but wonder how they felt about a particular display set up in the corner of the room. Across three tables lay an enormous collection of Metal Gear games and paraphernalia, including the original MSX versions of Metal Gear and Metal Gear: Solid Snake, the first two Metal Gear games, which also happen to fall after Metal Gear Solid V in the series' sprawling storyline. The juxtaposition was hard to ignore. I'm at an event for the next-gen Metal Gear Solid game, and there's the original, 27-year-old game staring me in the face. No doubt Kojima and Shinkawa took a look as well. So I asked them: How does it feel to look back on nearly 30 years of Metal Gear games? Kojima hadn't only looked; he took the chance to go hands-on with the game that launched his career.

The original Metal Gear.

"Yesterday, I played the MSX version. That is my starting point, the first game I created, and I wanted to go back. So yesterday I actually sat down and played that MSX game, and it re-created the passion I had back then, and all of the feelings that I initially had when I started creating games. You know it's a game that you play with your keyboard, and I still remember when the controls were set up, the maps, the items. That gave me a lot of confidence, because today I cannot remember people's names. I was like, 'Yeah, maybe I can keep doing these things.' It gave me a lot of confidence."

As it turns out, Shinkawa is constantly revisiting old games for reference. Still, his past work, no matter how familiar, reminds him of the relationship between the artist and the work of art.

"Well, to be completely honest, all the time I look back at this stuff, especially when I recently re-created some figures from Metal Gear Solid. Or, for some illustration books, I have to go back and put everything together, so to be honest, it's not something that I haven't seen in a long time. That said, when I look at my old drawings, I always remember what I felt when I drew that, and that is very interesting for me. I remember what I was feeling when I created something very specific, and this is fun, honestly. Several times I look back and I know that I couldn't create something similar again. I like looking at the things that were very specific to that point in my life, that point in time, that I could only create back then, or that I could only create now."

Yoji Shinkawa's vision for Big Boss in Metal Gear Solid V.

Now, the duo are busy creating Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain. Ground Zeroes--the prologue to The Phantom Pain--is finished, marking the first next-gen Metal Gear game. There was a lot of hype generated by Konami surrounding the tools used to develop the game, collectively known as the Fox Engine, which was designed for, more or less, three key purposes: rendering near-photo-realistic visuals, simplifying the process of porting games between different types of gaming hardware, and facilitating the development of any type of game, Metal Gear or otherwise. Metal Gear Solid V puts all of these qualities to the test. In terms of scale and visual effects, it's the most ambitious game to date, which makes the fact that it lives on both current- and next-gen consoles all the more interesting.

It made me wonder if Kojima intended for Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes to be cross-generational or if this was a reactionary decision that sprang from the need to release something in the short term, crossed with the fact that many people are still enjoying old consoles. I spoke with Kojima about this, and he made his intentions clear and addressed his concerns regarding the current hardware ecosystem.

"Yes, that was our intention from the beginning. In the future, I don't think things will be that reliant on the platform; I believe everything will be leaning towards cloud computing. And in that regard, a platform will lose relevance, so I wanted to make sure that I could create a game that could be on different platforms, in this case PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One. I don't want things to be that different per platform; I want to make things that go beyond the platform, and games that can just be played, because I believe that's where we are headed."

Such sentiments aren't uncommon these days, but still, next-gen hardware is designed to facilitate new advances in visual effects, and this promise stirs up a lot of expectations from players. For Kojima, it seems that visuals are secondary to gameplay at the moment.

"This time we had to create something that could be equally played and equally enjoyed on current-gen and next-gen, especially in Japan where next-gen platforms haven't been released. For the game--maybe not as far as the visual elements, but as for how fun the game is and how it can be enjoyed--I tried to create something that could be enjoyed on all platforms. That being said, once current-gen isn't here anymore and the next-gen becomes current-gen, then I believe that we will be able to do more things." [This interview was conducted weeks prior to the release of the PlayStation 4 in Japan.]

...once current-gen isn't here anymore and the next-gen becomes current-gen, then I believe that we will be able to do more things.

I naively expected Kojima to delve into advanced graphics and gameplay design details, but it seems like he sees the advantages of next-gen hardware differently than most do:

"We are beyond the times that we're making things for one platform. We have to make things for multiple devices. In that regard, I think that I need to make sure to make things that will still talk to different devices, say smartphones or other things."

Smartphones are great for some games, but not all, and most of the enthusiasm for smartphone apps tied to console games seems to be coming from producers and executives, not consumers. When I think of the one device people want Metal Gear on, I don't think iPad; I think PC. What does Kojima think?

"PC is my original background. I cannot make a formal release yet, but I originally made PC games for the MSX...I cannot make a formal announcement, but that is something that I would really like to do."

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138 comments
Algearond
Algearond

PC is where it's at.....make it happen

ExplicitMike
ExplicitMike

Put it on PC and I will buy it day one. I waited for MGS Rising on PC. I can wait for MGS5 on PC.

billzihang
billzihang

Get it on PC. You know you want to.

GunEye
GunEye

Kojima - why is your "preview game" still a two hour (10 hour ultra repetitive) demo?!

Still can't wait to grab it, and gonna preorder it. Shame I have to wait to the end of 2015 or 2016 for the real deal!

Great article!


Delston
Delston

PC.  Do it....Do it.

electroban
electroban

Yeah, how about you come out with new ideas.  Can you imagine if you applied this bullshit rationality of making video games to say, literature?


It's "The Bible II" folks, finally its been released and you're all hype for it.

Now its time for Treasure Island IV

Lord of the Flies 6.


No they didn't do that because the ideas of milking bullshit and over playing good ideas wasn't about in those days.  


And we call computer games art?  Yeah right, art, mired in cowardice and an unwillingness to branch out.  


RabbiSchmuley
RabbiSchmuley

My opinion, informed by the comments generally seen here, in regards to the MGS series; many gamers do not care for the premise of the series, or entirely disregard the philosophy which grants it the grand, hyperbolized themes.


There are no other series that actually tackle the subject of international and covert terrorism....terrorism that is executed not by the hands of some ethnic militia, or other contrivance, (we have been numbed to this in lieu of US and affiliates crafting a perpetual war) but terrorism that is administered by governments to its' people.  

rhenom
rhenom

When I read the title I thought it would be about a MGS movie or something, not MGS on a bunch of different consoles, sorry to break it to you, but when they switch generations lots of games come out for both, MGS isn't special.

UKFX
UKFX

Bring the franchise to PC. I've played most of the Metal Gear Titles (the old ones and the PSX, PS2 and PS3 games, but not Ground Zeroes) and obviously for that I've needed multiple consoles. Sadly consoles aren't money friendly these days and I find that the value of a console no longer exists when compared with a PC. That being said, business is still business and is the main reason that the MGS series came to Xbox after spending years on end being played on Playstation, so what is stopping Kojima and Konami from bringing it to PC? It brings those guys extra money and it also enables players who haven't played any of the games in the franchise to get into it. Win win for all... right?

Splinter Cell WAS good, in it's earlier iterations, then it just got stupid.

Whether the Metal Gear series comes to PC in future or not is another thing... doesn't really bother me, as much as I love those games. I have to learn that unless you buy every single format out there and spend a ludicrous sum of money left, right and centre, then you have to make compromises. Fortunately, I'll be experiencing the sex of The Witcher 3 in 2015 and I couldn't care less about it being delayed, because delays are good things (right EA... you hear that? Delays are good, it makes for a money stable, polished product :D)

Damn... might have to go play Witcher 2 again...


XNEXUS666X
XNEXUS666X

MGS is a bit flamboyant for me, I think Splinter Cell is a far superior franchise in the stealth genre. Ground Zeroes is receiving far too much press which is actually turning me off trying the game at all. Kojima thinks he Jesus or something for turning a game into a giant cut scene with a few drips of gameplay.

Bowser05
Bowser05

"I cannot make a formal announcement." Well...that pretty much confirms that he IS working on something for the PC. Either that, or Half-Life 3 confirmed.

deadpen
deadpen

Still have my copy of MGS for the nes, guess I'll bust it out when my pre-ordered retroN 5 gets here, have a feeling that it will still have better replay value than 3,4, and soon 5. Oh and that 4.5 or pre-5 thing they are releasing.

jameshubert12
jameshubert12

MGS died after 4, dont know why 5 is being bought in, oh wait Konami needs money, dont have any other ideas for a next gen game...

diego_corleone
diego_corleone

Gamespot trying to push your agenda in favor of PC again, that's just hilarious.

Hybridos
Hybridos

Kojima, just go and announce the MGSV on PC please, and make it bundle with the Ground Zeroes as the icing on the cake.

anothonyg
anothonyg

Original MG was hard. The best one by far is MGS1. One of the first games to utilize theatric like shots and music. MGS1 had the same impact on me as Most people had with Final Fantasy 7. 

nandosmc
nandosmc

The original Metal Gear Solid was simply a master piece and is one of my favorite games of all time. So badly want to play everything from 3 onward on my pc. :(

jmsbond35
jmsbond35

Really digging all this MGS coverage, been a while since I've had that luxury. Keep it up Peter.

vbalodas
vbalodas

I actually never owned a console, so I never got to play the metal gear solid series. I don't think I could get into it without having played the rest of the games. I think many ppl are in the same position as me. Just my two cents.

SoulxReaperx366
SoulxReaperx366

If pc gaming gets more popular in japan, that would be amazing.

jimmy_russell
jimmy_russell

My PS3 runs the Metal Gear Solid series like a charm. I see no reason to buy the game for my PC.

Solidny
Solidny

@electroban  Bible is not a good example, because different parts of it were written in a span of hundreds of years (Old Testament). So yeah, longest running series ever ;)
Besides, I'm not sure if that qualifies as "art", more like religious text.

In case of games, technology evolves, so you can improve on your concepts in ways not applicable in other mediums. Writing was pretty much perfected centuries ago, and video games are still in their infancy. Comparing them to other forms of art doesn't make much sense, since they are created end experienced in a completely different way.

At least that's my opinion.

l0ne_wanderer
l0ne_wanderer

@XNEXUS666X  Maybe splinter cell is a superior stealth game. The game is a stealth simulation after all. But in terms of story, characters, innovative stealth gameplay and overall game experience metal gear series is most superior. Big Boss is a hero every metal gear fan looks up to despite his flaws. I think even Sam Fisher looks up to him.

59Hertz
59Hertz

@XNEXUS666X Press of a game turns you off? MGS is a bit flamboyant? Splinter cell superior?! Kojima thinks he's Jesus?!? Comments like this make me automatically assume you have a shitty taste in, everything.

omgmike23
omgmike23

Yet you continue to read articles about it.

nl_skipper
nl_skipper

@deadpen  That's Metal Gear, or Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake... not MGS!

Delston
Delston

@jameshubert12  I guess with the logic that MGS5 is no good because the storyline stopped at MGS4...then they really should've stopped at MGS2 considering MGS3 was a prequel as well...albeit the episode many consider to be the pinnacle of the series.


MGS5 and any others that follow will have their place in this beloved series, prequel or sequel.

omgmike23
omgmike23

"**A Wild Troll Has Appeared!"

"You Used ignore!"

"It's Super Effective!"

pedropabloib
pedropabloib

MGS died after 4?... Guns of The Patriots and Peace Walker are as good as any other Metal Gear, if not better....

khaos107
khaos107

@diego_corleone Wait I don't have an agenda and why is Gamespot trying to push it?

Oh and PC rules by the way!

bigruss51
bigruss51

@jimmy_russell Obviously you don't realize how superior pc visuals are compared to the ps3 if it's a decent pc. Also most pc games are a bit cheaper compared to the console version. Isn't that a good reason to go pc?

deadpen
deadpen

Thank god we have you to correct errors. What would this post do without you. Keep with it internet hero and one day you will grow up to be big and old and realize you worried about shit that no one cares about alone.

nl_skipper
nl_skipper

@bigruss51 @jimmy_russell  Metal Gear Solid games have been beautiful pieces of art in a lot of ways... a higher resolution isn't going to add a whole lot really... but I'd love to see them on PC too,  just because it's my main platform, nothing to do with visuals.

LOTRM789
LOTRM789

@bigruss51 @jimmy_russell

Graphics alone aren't a good reason to do anything; too many people think like you.

johnners2981
johnners2981

@deadpen No one cares that you still have your copy of Metal Gear for the nes either. Keep up old chap.

Bowser05
Bowser05

@nl_skipper @jeddawey  Or you could buy the games and play them using an emulator. There comes a point when you need to make a choice. What if he owns a PS2 and MGS3 but doesn't have a way of hooking up the PS2? Would it still be stealing if he got a PS2 emulator and played it on his PC?

bigruss51
bigruss51

@nl_skipper @bigruss51@jimmy_russell I haven't played mgs since the original playstation so naturally I'm looking forward to playing the new one on pc since I don't have a ps4 or ps3. Since I've enjoyed pc visuals for so long it's hard for me to look past the difference even though it's much smaller with the new gen. I'm definitely getting a ps4 in the future since I missed out on so many great games for the ps3.

Delston
Delston

@LOTRM789  You're right, but when gameplay is the same between platforms, better graphics is generally a good thing.  

bigruss51
bigruss51

@Wej_accept_it @West123@bigruss51@LOTRM789 Well HD remakes really don't look much different on pc but mgs5 isn't a remake so obviously it's going to look better on pc even though it is a port. Since this new gen of consoles has a similar architecture to pc its going to be easy to make pc ports look a lot better then was possible on the previous gen ports. Either way it doesn't matter to me, I invested in a good pc so unless it's a console exclusive, I'd rather get the pc version.

Wej_accept_it
Wej_accept_it

@West123 @bigruss51@LOTRM789PC controls for MGS can be a nightmare, when Kojima designed the game's controls and game play it was specifically built around Sony's controller.
Also, a lot of the MGS games now exist as HD re-releases, porting them to PC won't do much for the graphics.
Finally if they don't exist (yet) on PC, as is the case the MGS3,4, PW and in time 5, the console version is better.

West123
West123

@bigruss51 @LOTRM789  but that's not correct it also comes down to controls...i prefer the PS controller over anything else when it comes to 3rd person games


that being said i wouldn't by a FPS for any console thats just silly ....


yes i know i can use  a PS controller on a PC and i have the program its just not the same...kinda like getting back a stolen phone it just feels wrong

bigruss51
bigruss51

@LOTRM789 If you have a console and a pc then why not buy the better version especially if it's $10 cheaper. I'm not hating on consoles. It's only logical. If you don't have a good pc then no problem. Don't be an ass.