Following on from the last part that covered the gameplay and technical elements, I’ve been digging into all the information about Metal Gear Solid V I could find and have tried to piece together what we know for sure about the story and the cast, what might be possible, and then thrown in my own random reasoning too.
So what’s the story about then? We’re back with John (aka Jack/Naked Snake/Big Boss) starting in the mid-1970′s with Ground Zeroes, and it picks up not long after Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker with a mission to infiltrate a base in Cuba and extract Chico and Paz (who are returning from the Peace Walker). Through the events of this prologue mission, Snake ends up in a coma and wakes up nearly a decade later, forms a new military group and goes on the rampage in Afghanistan to extract revenge on the people who’ve destroyed what he’d built up. Kaz Miller is back to lend a strategic hand, and the best villain in any game ever returns, Ocelot! Though we don’t know if he’s picked up the Revolver moniker yet. I’m expecting there’s some version of Metal Gear in there too, you can’t go through a game without one, and Peace Walker had loads to go at.
However, these basics don’t tell us anything though. As we’ve learnt over the years, we’ll have no idea what the story really is until we’ve finished the full game, and even then it might take a second or third playthrough to pick up on everything. I’ve got lots of crazy theories running round in my head at the moment on what could happen, and one that I can’t push aside is are we going to meet Solid Snake? We’re getting near the right time period, this is supposed to be the last MGS game, there could be a way to bring everything back full circle and have a full chronological history of the genetic legacy of one man. If they’re prepared to jump 9 years between Ground Zeroes and The Phantom Pain, why wouldn’t they be prepared to jump another 9? The footage from the very first reveal trailer showed a greyer Snake than we’ve seen since, was this a hint? Probably not, but it’s fun speculating.
I couldn’t go through this piece without mentioning the cast, and in particular the really bizarre decision to not use David Hayter as Snake. He is as much a part of the western world’s gameplay as the sneaking suit, and makes the character instantly recognisable. Bringing in Keifer Sutherland may not be a bad idea considering his ability to do gruff and mean, and it makes sense when they say that they want a person who can physically act the role as well as voice an aged veteran, but they used the same excuse with Michael Ironside as Sam Fisher and that is really noticeable when you’re playing. That said, the voice of (sorry, spoilers coming up here) Big Boss in MGS4 was not David Hayter, so it’s feasible that different voices could be used to indicate the different ages of the character (Old Snake not counting because of the accelerated aging due to the FoxDie virus). The better news is that all the other cast members return to pick up their characters roles, and is this a clue? If you’re a practical joker like Hideo (why else would you get a Raiden mask at the start of MGS3?), would you be tempted to grab some headlines? Like pretend it’s a new game by Moby Dick Studios, or voice your demos with a new actor, then bring in the original for the main game and satisfy all the fans in one fell swoop? No? That’s just me then. There are new characters too, Quiet (a sniper), Eli (a boy), Code Talker (possibly a native American shaman), and Skull Face (who knows!). How these will fit in to the story with everyone else is a mystery, much like “those who don’t exist”, who could be a hint at something Snake faces in his coma. The emphasis this time round on capturing facial movement so the syncing is exactly to the words reminds me a bit of Heavy Rain, and is going to up the ante on cinematic quality this time round.
But when can we expect to get our hands on it? We’re used to 3 years of teasing before we actually get a new MGS game, and we’ve had over a year already for these two coming up. But considering there is a significant emphasis on the current gen version I expect we’ll see Ground Zeroes in the third quarter of next year, sometime in August/September. Next gen sales won’t have overtaken current gen but we should be at a point where there have been enough people transitioned to warrant the development needed to bring it to multiple hardware platforms and turn the best profit. I’m not expecting The Phantom Pain to come at the same time though. The reports of the Ground Zeroes map being 300 times smaller than The Phantom Pain makes me think that it’ll be the first release at a lower price to bring the new gameplay style to both the existing audience and new players. In terms of game structure (assuming there’s not another announcement due on another chapter) it makes me think of MGS2 and MGS3 where you had two distinct introduction sections (Tanker and Virtuous Mission), only this time you won’t have the rest of the game to continue straight into until it’s release. I keep thinking back to Hideo’s comments on episodic gaming could be the way forward, the success of the Walking Dead in this format, and the separate listings of the games.
One last thing that to leave you thinking of though. I’m a massive fan of this series, so much so that I’m still considering buying the Legacy Collection despite owning nearly everything in it (I don’t have the digital graphic novel of MGS2, even though I do have the paperback version), but I’ve a cynical thought at the back of the my mind that we’re going to see releases of both the new games on PS3/Xbox 360 some time before the PS4/Xbox One versions to maximise sales for Konami. There’s scope to do it and keep gamers engaged in parting with their cash considering Kojima Productions have got the transfarring system working (the method of porting game saves between Vita/PSP/PS3 versions). It’s clear a lot of development has gone into this, particularly around the new engine which is getting its first commercial outing in the next Pro Evolution game, and all parties will be keen to reap the rewards. There’s also a much more defined Western feeling to everything that’s come out so far, and I wonder if they are trying to make it more mainstream. I hope not. The MGS games have never been mainstream but they’ve always sold well, and that unique Eastern development style mixed with Western movie influence is part of what makes them hugely popular. This one definitely looks like it will be a darker, more emotional game than the others, and fits with the increasingly clear message that gamers are looking for more adult themes and experiences, as well as the substance and style we’ve got used to (we’re a demanding bunch aren’t we?).
What I want from the game is an experience that I’m never going to forget, something new and different that the open world genre hasn’t seen before, combined with the epic story-telling that will naturally be a part of any Metal Gear Solid tale. What I don’t want is another MGS2 where the promise and hype is undone after the first hour, though I think lessons have been learnt there. This is supposed to be the last MGS game, it has to be mighty to cap things off, can it do it? We’ll find out, one day. We’d love to here your thoughts on all of this, put a comment below or head to the About Us section for direct email details.