N Amer - Spring 2008
E3 2007 Preview
Hideo Kojima, the genius behind the unforgettable Metal Gear and Metal Gear Solid series, has toyed with the possibility of killing off Solid Snake. He's hinted at it multiple times, almost as an inside joke to gamers who know it's never really going to happen.
But one thing to remember is that Kojima is not your typical game developer. He is as much a filmmaker as Peter Jackson or the guys who work on Lost on 24. If there's one thing TV has taught us in the past six years, it's that main characters should -- and will -- die. When this trend began, it was completely unexpected, earning gasps and tears from viewers all over the world. Which has to make you wonder: what would happen if the game series that was inspired by older generations of film and TV was now inspired by the current generation?
Metal Gear Solid 4 trailers have become an annual event for E3 attendees, and for this year's showing, Kojima took the opportunity to reveal several story sequences that are aimed at shocking and devastating the viewer. We will play Guns of Patriots one day (of course, that time won't come until early 2008, the newly announced release date). But like the others, we will spend a large portion of the game watching in awe, fearful and at the same time on the edge of our seats for what the next scene will bring.
The trailer began with Snake infiltrating what appears to be a battlefield in progress. No gunfire had broken out, but there were several ominous trucks hulling large, concealed objects. Several troops were seen walking the streets, ready to take action. Though most of the soldiers were presumably men (it's impossible to say for certain since most of them were masked), the group also featured a new look at the female soldier we were once led to believe had died: Meryl. She wasn't masked and didn't seem to be wearing as much armor as the others, but given her history she had to be safe. After all, she was the girl who came back from the dead.
Then, with a twist that will blow the mind of every diehard Metal Gear fan, a strange, implanted substance is unleashed, incapacitating every soldier on the battlefield. The soldiers try to fight it and stand their ground, but the substance takes its toll, causing them to fall over as they began to foam at the mouth. The sight was graphically amazing and featured the same level of jaw-dropping, this-can't-be-real PS3 effects demonstrated last year.
I was stunned and a little worried, because knowing the history of movies and television, I knew what was next: Meryl was going to fall. The following scenes were almost hard to watch -- could this really be happening!? She and her colleagues collapse while other, similarly-dressed soldiers rush in to fight them. As this is going on, the two-legged creature/robot walkers (introduced in the last two trailers) leap into the battlefield. They're vicious and, without any kind of human connection, do not have a problem dealing with remorse -- probably because they don't have the capacity to experience that feeling.
Snake, having lurked nearby, rushes in to stop the enemy. But as he enters the swarm of dying allies, it was obvious that the substance was effecting him as well. Snake has but one mission: to kill Liquid -- and he's too weak to do it! His hand can barely hold the gun up high enough to aim, let alone pull off a shot that's steady enough to take out the long-time villain.
With Snake out of commission, the trailer switches over to the superhuman warrior of Metal Gear Solid 2, Raiden, who says he "doesn't fear death." Last time he showed no mercy when taking on the walkers -- this time he's fighting a man who seems to be as equally difficult to kill. The unknown adversary has the dark and rugged appearance of a vampire, though he had no fangs. His body reacted like one as well, taking multiple hits without any indication that he could feel pain.
The choreography of this scene was unreal. Raiden whipped around the screen, reflecting knives with his sword while dodging others. The martial arts moves are unlike anything you'd see in a movie, with moves and stunts that are impossible to perform in the real world. That's what made it to so exciting. To see Raiden flip through the air, jump on his enemy's chest, and stab him with a knife that was hidden within his uber-suit and came out through his feet -- it was simply incredible. Had it not been for the grim opening, this part of the trailer would have had me cheering. As it was I couldn't wait to see more. Devastating or not, the finished game has been on my wish list since it was unveiled. Here we are, two E3s later and the world is still waiting to play it.
Though it may have seemed like Raiden had won, his enemy was not finished fighting. He yanks the sharp object from his chest and eventually gains the upper hand. Soon the situation is reversed and it's Raiden's chest that's getting stomped on. But as we've been shown before, Raiden doesn't die.
In the final scene, Raiden is being attacked closely from behind. Knowing this may be the only way to finish off his enemy, he stabs his sword through his own chest, through his back, and right through the enemy, who tries to break free. Raiden holds firm and wins the battle...at least that's what we're led to believe.
This year's Metal Gear Solid 4 trailer was just what gamers needed to remind them that Hideo Kojima's inspiration lies in filmmaking and that his stories are anything but predictable. The gameplay, though likely to be some of the most groundbreaking tactical espionage action you'll have this generation, is still a question mark. We know that the finished product will look like the trailer (since its movies are powered by the game's engine), but Konami has yet to reveal a single frame of gameplay footage.