TOKYO--It's practically a rule at this point that every major game industry trade show needs to have some sort of explosive Metal Gear Solid trailer to get everybody talking before, during, and after the event. Developer Kojima Productions seems equally as talented at putting together amazing trailers as it is at making great games, so with this in mind, we went into this year's Tokyo Game Show eagerly looking forward to anything new on Metal Gear Solid 4 for the PlayStation 3. And, once again, Kojima Productions delivered, this time with a roughly six-minute trailer showcasing what appear to be a lot of new gameplay mechanics from this next game in its popular stealth action series. Back in May, the E3 trailer for MGS4 wowed us with lots of tantalizing new details about the characters and story, not to mention with some really impressive graphics. This new trailer doesn't show off Raiden slicing and dicing or drop any obscure clues about the plot, but instead portrays a weathered old Solid Snake doing what he does best: sneaking, fighting, and surviving against all odds.
The trailer takes place entirely in the war-torn, dusty cityscapes we've seen in previous sequences from MGS4. There's not much preamble before the bullets start flying, and the trailer mostly shows some of the ways in which Snake will be able to elude or dispatch his opponents. And there is some surprising variety on display here, including a bunch of moves never before seen in an MGS game. At first we see Snake performing by-the-numbers military maneuvers, running through the streets while keeping a low profile, ducking around corners to elude foes, and so on. We also see Snake lying prone, rolling from side to side to avoid hostile fire.
Then a surprise appears in the form of the little robot operated by Snake's friend Otacon, which we saw in the very first MGS4 trailer. It turns out this speedy little thing is more than just a recon bot, because in one sequence, it rolls on up to an unsuspecting enemy guard and delivers an electric shock that drops this guy in an instant.
As for Snake, we get to see him climbing into an empty oil barrel and rolling through the streets, plowing through and past enemy soldiers. It's almost comical but thrilling--a new spin on the old cardboard box, if you will. Flashes of first-person-perspective gunplay meanwhile suggest that Metal Gear Solid's traditional point-and-shoot controls will still be intact. Some very impressive motion-captured animations are on display as wild gunfights ensue, and all the while, the environments look completely believable. However, notably, a recent issue of Famitsu magazine revealed that MGS4 will feature a new over-the-shoulder shooting perspective that instantly brings to mind Resident Evil 4. This new perspective doesn't get much screen time during the new trailer, but it brings to mind some exciting possibilities about how MGS4 might play.
Another remarkable sequence in the new trailer has one of the new bipedal Metal Gear robots "sniffing" around with its antenna-like tentacle, apparently trying to spot Snake. Despite Snake's camouflage, he's spotted right underneath the machine's foot, so it tries to stomp him dead with its powerful legs...but of course, Snake rolls out of the way just in time and then fires straight up into the thing's belly with his assault rifle. The Metal Gear unit collapses, a scene that seems to reveal this new model's weak point. Moments later, though, it clambers back to its feet, ready to cause more destruction.
Things only seem to get worse for Snake as the trailer wears on--one of the last sequences has him crawling straight through an enemy firing zone. Here's where the game's "no place to hide" theme seems resoundingly clear--Snake seems completely pinned down and helpless. However, even while lying prone, he's able to chuck a grenade overhead, and it takes out an enemy squad just like that. The various new fighting-while-prone maneuvers seem to be the emphasis of this trailer overall, at least for those of us watching for signs of new gameplay elements.
The trailer doesn't provide a lot of context for all this action but intersperses the visuals with brief oblique phrases that fans who've been keeping up with MGS4 will note clearly tie in to the game's solemn themes:
No beginning, no end. No time, no future. No virtue, no vice. No place for heroes. No time for heroes. No place in time. No time to die. No war for Snake.
The trailer also shows Snake wearing a few variations on his sneaking suit. In one sequence he's concealed within a cloak, and we also get to see him using his new active camouflage, which lets him blend right in with his surroundings as the light refracts around him. Previous MGS games have included stealth camouflage as an unlockable bonus, but it seems to figure more prominently into the gameplay this time.
At the seeming end of the trailer, Snake mercifully holds his fire as one of the last enemy troopers flees for his life. The Metal Gear Solid 4 logo and credits appear...and then a brief epilogue sequence ensues, showing a masked man with Snake's "solid eye system" eyepatch standing in a clearing with a statue in the background, while a few guards lurk nearby. The man evades the guards by blending in with the statue by grabbing onto its, uh...anyway, the guards just walk right on by. The man unmasks as a bird on the statue takes a bit of a poop, and we see none other than the spitting image of a young Solid Snake, sans headband, and he lights up a cigarette just as Snake would. Then another bird poops on him, and he scowls. The end. Huh...? Certainly there's no easy explanation for what a young version of Snake may be doing here. The sequence doesn't appear to be a flashback or anything like that.
Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots won't be shipping until sometime next year, and one can only hope that it'll wind up looking as good as this latest trailer lets on. While the trailer seems to go out of its way to show sequences that might actually occur during gameplay, we'll believe it when we play it. Needless to say, we can't wait to see more of this increasingly impressive-looking game.