It's been a while since I've done this, so pardon me if I'm a little rusty.
There's an unofficial tradition of sorts here at GameSpot wherein editors will post their thoughts and speculation on the many and often mysterious trailers that Hideo Kojima has released for his Metal Gear Solid series throughout the years. It started
about five years ago, and continued
on several times
-- maybe several times too many
-- by various editors
, some of whom have moved on
, and others that are still here
. So with the release of the latest six-minute trailer of Metal Gear Solid 4 at TGS this weekend, I figured it was high time for big daddy to retake the reins of this ridiculous speculation column once again. I won't bother with the two previous trailers that have been released for Metal Gear Solid 4, as theories about the biggest mystery (Snake's mysterious old age in relation to all the returning characters) have been thrown about like crazy already. Personally, I believe it's the effects of Foxdie from the first MGS. But anyway... For the first time since Metal Gear Solid 4 was announced, we were treated with what looked like actual gameplay footage, the most important of which was Snake's new stealth suit. Judging from the video, it looks like the gameplay will basically be a simpler form of the camo mechanic from Snake Eater. That is, instead of browsing through your list of available camo and matching it to your surroundings, Snake's new suit will automatically assume its surroundings characteristics like an octopus at the touch of a button. If this is indeed the case, I'm not sure why Kojima opted for simplifying the stealth gameplay, though doing so would let players focus more on the actual combat, which would be OK by me. It also looks like there are some limitations to the camo. In one clip, Snake is spotted and starts running for cover, and his camo immediately reverts back to its default state. This probably indicates that you can't move if you're "stealthed". The second piece of important gameplay that this video showed off was the prone mechanic. Snake seems to spend a lot of his time on his back or on his belly (no prostitute jokes, please). I guess as CQC was the main mechanic in MGS3, so is prone/stealth sneaking and crawling the primary mechanic in MGS4. I don't know -- I'm a runner. If something goes down, I'm going to get up and run like Forrest Gump. When that Metal Gear was attempting to stomp on Snake, he just sat there and then started inching backwards on his elbows! What's that all about? And what's with Snake doing the worm while in that shallow trench between the local Arab milita and (who I'm assuming to be) Ocelot's genome soldiers? Whether that's an actual combat technique or not, it looked a little silly. And speaking of that firefight, I'm surprised that Snake opened fire on the Arab crew. In the two videos of MGS4 that were released earlier, it appeared that Snake was somewhat allied with the Arabs. It was always the Arabs versus Ocelot's genomes, or the Arabs versus the Metal Gears, both of whom targetted Snake as well. Though maybe he's just tagging along with them for the ride in order to get closer to Ocelot, and when he was found out, their marriage of convenience ended. It's telling that he took pity on the fleeing Arab soldier, however, so maybe Snake only attacked that group in self defense. Eh, anyway... The video revealed three additional potential hints at the gameplay. First, the little wheeled-robot that Otacon controls looks like it has the same kind of stealth camo as Snake does. That sequence also was briefly displayed from the first-person perspective, so maybe Otacon doesn't control it -- maybe you do. Second, judging from the way Snake always carries his combat knife, even when firing that M4A1, it's probably a safe bet that CQC will make a comeback from MGS3. In fact, we got to see a little bit of CQC action when Snake took out the spotter for one of the genome snipers. Lastly, and this is really speculation on my part, but does anyone else think that the PlayStation 3's tilt controller will come into play during those barrel sequences? It's easy to imagine maneuvering the barrel by tilting the controller during the sequence where Snake runs over the three genome soldiers while in the barrel.
And like any good Kojima trailer, the video contained a bombshell near the end. Many who saw it are assuming I'm referring to "young Snake", but I'm not. Yes, that scene was mysterious and exciting and blah blah. Need I remind you that MGS3 had not one, but two scenes where Snake assumes the role of Raiden by putting on a mask? "Young Snake" could be nothing more than old Snake with a mask. No, the real bombshell, and the one that I'm shocked Brad (at least, I think it was Brad) missed in the impressions story
was what was revealed immediately before
we saw young Snake. Specifically, after successfully eluding those genome soldiers by posing as a statue, that story says that "birds" poop on Snake. Those aren't birds! Well, technically they are. But they're ravens! Ravens! Hello, Bueller? Vulcan Raven, anyone? When Snake bested Raven in the beginning of MGS1, his corpse gets consumed by ravens and it's assumed that those birds now carry Vulcan's "essence"... or something. When Snake runs into that quad and sees the statue, and hears
the squawk of the ravens, you can almost see a knowing smile form underneath his mask. And when he takes the mask off and young Snake is revealed, one of the ravens poops on him, as if to say "hey, how ya doin'" from the great beyond. The cast of characters that makes a return from previous games in MGS4 is huge -- Merryl, Otacon, Colonel, Liquid/Ocelot, Raiden, Naomi -- why not Raven too? Hey, a guy can dream.