Originally Written on August 23, 2016
For those who don’t know, Konami announced a new Metal Gear game at Gamescom last week. Entitled Metal Gear Survive, it is a four player co-op game in which you and a group of friends play as member of the MSF left behind after the events of Ground Zeroes. You get swept into a portal and transported to a world full of crystal based zombies. You then have to fight them off and try to get back to Earth. Unsurprisingly, the internet lost their shit at this announcement. I read countless articles last year about Hideo Kojima’s treatment by and departure from Konami. I love the Metal Gear franchise; The Phantom Pain was one of my favorite games last year, and Sons of Liberty is one of my favorite games of all time. I am sick and tired of the influx of zombie survival games, think companies that make them are creatively bankrupt, and I am just waiting for that bubble to burst. I should hate this announcement. I should be writing a seething editorial right now about the disrespect for a beloved franchise and the downfall of Konami (If you want to read that rant, there are plenty to choose from). I think Konami is greedy, creatively bankrupt, and possibly legitimately evil. All that being said, I can’t get angry at this announcement. No matter how hard I try, I just can’t have any reaction to Metal Gear Survive other than a shrug of my shoulders and a “meh”. After thinking about it for a few days, I figured out why.
I’ll start with what might be the most controversial part of this whole piece; the game might be good. Zombie survival games aren’t really my thing. I played some Left 4 Dead back in the day, but I have no desire to play a game like that now. That being said, the gameplay in Metal Gear Solid V is incredible. It saved a game that was otherwise disappointing. I am curious to see how they transition that gameplay into a multiplayer game and how they implement stealth into a zombie game. I honestly don’t think they will be super successful at either of these, but there is potential there. Ultimately, I’m happy that they are using the FOX Engine for something.
But the biggest argument against this game isn’t that it looks bad. The biggest argument against it is that it ruins the Metal Gear legacy. So I decided to take a look at that legacy. When this game was announced, IGN resurfaced their “7 Weird Metal Gear Games” article. Most of them are pretty inoffensive (and Ghost Babel is great), but an iPhone shooting gallery, a fake sequel to the original Metal Gear, and Solid Snake skateboarding around big shell don’t strike me as “respectful to the legacy”. And taking away the weird spin-offs, I don’t think that the main series has always been super respectful to its legacy. Metal Gear Solid 2 is a game about the nature of video game sequels and passing things off to the next generation, so naturally Kojima honored this message by continuing to make Metal Gear games for 14 years. Metal Gear Solid 4 is a game that ruins and cheapens a lot of what came before it. Metal Gear Solid Peace Walker uses a character that most Metal Gear fans think is sacred (The Boss) in a really weird way. And I could write an entire essay about the problems with Metal Gear Solid V‘s story and characterizations. This franchise is beloved by many, including me. But that doesn’t mean that it has never been spun off to make a quick buck or ruined certain characters. I think Metal Gear Solid 2 is one of the best games of all time, and the fact that there are sequels to it cheapens that game’s message. But I got over it and learned to just appreciate or hate each game on its own merits. And while I don’t expect to like Survive, it will be for reasons other than it not being “a proper Metal Gear game”.
And there is actually a positive way in which I initially spun this announcement. When I saw this headline I didn’t think “Konami is ruining Metal Gear”. My first thought was “Konami is making a console game?”. After everything this company has done in the past year, I never thought I would see them come out with a game that isn’t Pro Evolution Soccer. This isn’t exactly what I wanted, but it’s a step in the right direction. Konami owns great franchises like Castlevania and Contra. And while I don’t think they have the creative staff to make new entries in these franchises, the idea of Konami either licensing them out to other developers or just issuing re-releases of classics is exciting. Those franchises don’t deserve to die, and this gives me hope that they may one day live again.
Is Metal Gear Survive the game I want it to be? No. Will it be creatively bankrupt and full of predatory microtransactions? Almost definitely. Am I even going to play it? Probably not. But I can’t get angry at it. Maybe I just don’t have the energy to get angry at Konami anymore, but I see this product as being nothing more than harmless and potentially a positive sign about the company’s future. I understand that the past year has painted Konami in a light that is not very sympathetic, and I find it hard to support a company that tries to recreate 1984 in the workplace. But the existence of Metal Gear Survive doesn’t enhance my hatred of the company, and it in fact kindles just a bit of curiosity and optimism.