New Metal Gear titles revealed at Tokyo shindig

Metal Gear turns 20, Konami parties down in Tokyo to celebrate and announces two new games for the long-running franchise.

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Nothing says party like cosplay.
Nothing says party like cosplay.

TOKYO--Konami held an event today in Roppongi, near its offices, to celebrate the 20th anniversary of its Metal Gear series. One part press conference, one part party, and one part stage show, the event was attended by a select group of industry luminaries, press, and a group of lucky fans. Besides offering the obligatory retrospective on the series, the event also allowed Hideo Kojima to shed light on Kojima Productions' upcoming projects built around the respected, long-running franchise.

The event took place in one of the large ballrooms at the Ritz Carlton and got off to a slightly late start due to a lengthy registration queue. An emcee kept things moving along by introducing the various guests, including president of the Konami Digital Entertainment division, Fumiaki Tanaka, who took the stage to discuss the various Metal Gear projects.

The first project, the upcoming Metal Gear Collection that's due in stores this week, is a definitive collection of the Metal Gear Solid titles in the series. The specially packaged compilation contains seven games, from the original PlayStation edition of the game to Portable Ops for the PlayStation Portable. In addition to the previous games, the set comes with a Metal Gear Solid Saga DVD that offers a comprehensive look at the game's evolution.

The next title to be highlighted was Metal Gear Solid Portable Ops Plus, a follow-up to the first Portable Ops title. The game will feature new stages, new playable characters including Raiden and Old Snake, a new gameplay mode called infinity mission, and visual cues to offer support for newcomers to the series. Next up was Metal Gear Solid 2: Banne Desenee for the PSP, a digital comic in the same vein as last year's Metal Gear Solid Digital Graphic Novel for the system. The digital comic will feature a story told from Snake's point of view.

The next portion of the presentation focused on various aspects of MGS4 that culminated in a live demo of the game. Besides showing off the trailer we saw at E3, Kojima revealed two members of the voice cast in the game, who happen to be well-known Japanese celebs Tsukamoto Shinya and Marina Tasuki. Once the announcement was done Kojima moved on to the live demo, which was very close, if not exactly the same as, the demo he gave at the recent PlayStation event in Japan. The lengthy demo highlighted many of the new features in the game that expand on the familiar Metal Gear gameplay in some interesting ways.

Kojima followed up the MGS4 demo by speaking more about Metal Gear Online, a brand new Metal Gear title, first revealed at the PlayStation Premiere 2007 event last week. Kojima called out some members of the development team to show off the upcoming online PlayStation 3 title, which is the evolution of the online mode seen in MGS3: Subsistence. The demo of the game showed the way Kojima Productions is expanding on the online experience in Subsistence in a number of significant ways. At the end of the demo the audience was told that a closed beta would be held shortly in Japan. A registration period will run from July 24 to August 6 to allow up to 3,000 people to get a chance to participate in the beta. The actual beta will run from August 7 to September 3 in Japan.

The final announcement for the night was conveniently segued to when Kojima's cell phone rang. When he answered he pulled out a red Metal Gear-branded cell phone that featured a black stencil of Snake. Turns out the Metal Gear-branded phone will also play host to the upcoming Metal Gear Solid Mobile, a 3D game based on the original.

Following the formal presentation in the ballroom, the assembled guests shuffled out into the foyer while hotel staff set up for the second portion of the evening, which was essentially one big party. A broad range of faces from the Japanese game industry were spotted, including Kaz Hirai from Sony, Toshihiro Nagoshi from Sega, Keita Takahashi from Namco, and Hiroyuki Kobayashi from Capcom to name just a few.

In addition to those who attended, video messages from Phil Harrison and Stan Lee wishing Kojima well were shown, and helped underscore the franchise's reach. In between video messages, the ballroom stage featured live musical performances of signature Metal Gear themes, and a "talk show" with Kojima and other notable folk chatting on stage. All told, Konami's 20th Anniversary Metal Gear Party was a lively way to celebrate the franchise and offer a tantalizing glimpse of its future.

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