TOKYO--Fresh from the starting gate of the 2005 Tokyo Game Show, who wouldn't make a beeline straight for Konami's next-generation theater, where the first real trailer for the newly christened Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots for the PlayStation 3 is playing? Certainly not us. We saw the trailer just minutes ago and are happy to report on what looks like one epic stealth action game in the works at Kojima Productions.
The trailer begins with a slightly baffling clip of first-person gameplay, in which an unnamed soldier patrols through a war-torn, ruined city, with futuristic helicopters soaring overhead and the muted sounds of combat ringing in the background. The soldier spies a sleek figure darting behind cover off in the distance, but upon rounding the corner, there's nobody to be seen. All the while, the letters "FPS" are appearing on the screen, forming phrases like "Finally a Policy Shift?"--perhaps indicating that Metal Gear Solid 4 is in fact a shooter. But then the camera pulls back to reveal the soldier caught in the death grip of none other than Solid Snake, who proceeds to dispatch the hapless guard with characteristic aplomb. Then we're treated to the words we've hoped to see "Not FPS - MGS!"
Then again, this might not be the Snake you were expecting. The rumors are true: Solid Snake has gone gray, and he appears to be in his declining years in Metal Gear Solid 4. This time, there doesn't seem to be any question about the placement of the game on the series' timeline, since the trailer wastes no time in announcing that the game is set "X years after Big Shell," which puts it well after MGS2, chronologically the most recent Metal Gear game. After the little first-person fake-out, the trailer fully reveals Snake, still wearing his classic sneaking suit but deeply lined, grizzled, and even sporting gray hair and a rough-looking moustache. He's also got some kind of wicked-looking future eye patch. Shades of Big Boss? At least the mullet is intact.
After his auspicious introduction, Snake stalks through the streets of the city, which has clearly been rendered unlivable by untold months or years of combat. He quickly ducks into the blasted-out shell of a nearby building to avoid the attention of an approaching caravan of foot soldiers accompanied by an imposing line of armored personnel carriers. Snake appears to be uncharacteristically intimidated by this advancing column, a point that's driven home by a title that flashes on the screen: "A new enemy created in battle." Matters only worsen as the procession approaches and it's revealed that a handful of small, bipedal Metal Gears, looking like smaller versions of the Rex model, are accompanying the troops.
As if matters aren't bad enough with this hellish enemy host right on the other side of the wall, Snake is clearly feeling his age. While he's remaining covert and attempting to formulate a plan, he's seized by a coughing spasm that doubles him over and nearly brings him to his knees. The only remedy is some sort of advanced injection system, which he delivers directly to his jugular vein and which seems to cure him temporarily. He then engages his eye patch, which we can see is actually labeled the "Solid Eye System," and we get a glimpse of Snake's own enhanced perspective, which is overlaid with a busy tactical display analyzing the armament and threat level of every major target in the area.
But Snake's not just the watcher--he's also being watched, as we see him brought into the sights of some sort of unseen robotic entity. As the potential attacker rolls up behind him and he whirls around, bringing his rifle to bear, we find that it's just a small, rather cute little robot with a screen on the side bearing none other than the image of Otacon. Yet, Otacon looks to have aged very little since MGS2. Has he been drinking at the fountain of youth? Or could it be that Solid Snake's genetically engineered background may have accelerated his aging, made him sick, and rendered him dependent on drugs to maintain his health? This will certainly be one of many mysteries yet to be revealed in MGS4.
Snake and Otacon then exchange a few pleasantries and agree that it's time to move on, but not before the little robot hands Snake a few clips to load into his advanced, modular assault rifle. It's at this point that Snake lights up his trademark cigarette and heads off through the city, little Otacon robot in tow, as he embarks on whatever his latest (and possibly last?) mission is. It's at this point that the full title of the game--Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots--is revealed, tying the game indelibly to the ending of Metal Gear Solid 2 and, indeed, the overarching storyline of the entire series. Devotees of Kojima's long-running stealth action epic will surely be fanatically interested in where the twisting storyline is going next, and we recently got a small taste of MGS4's gameplay and storyline courtesy of Famitsu magazine.
We don't need to tell you that Guns of the Patriots looks utterly incredible--the screenshots certainly speak for themselves--and unlike what we can say about some other PS3 games shown back at the Electronic Entertainment Expo, we can say with confidence that enough aliasing and pixelated textures were evident in this trailer to indicate that it was running smoothly in real time, and further live demonstrations from Kojima on the show floor at TGS confirm this to be the cast. Given that, this is pretty much one of the best-looking games we've ever seen. Whether or not this footage warrants such a grandiose statement is now for you to decide--Kojima Productions has posted the trailer for public viewing on the MGS4 site. We await further details on this game with bated breath, and we'll bring them to you as soon as we have them.