Hideo Kojima Reflects On The 'Metal Gear Solid' Franchise

Hideo Kojima Metal Gear Solid Series

After three generations of PlayStation systems, Hideo Kojima has continually revolutionized the gaming industry through the brilliant contributions of the Metal Gear Solid series. This franchise dates back all the way to 1998 - where gamers were introduced to Solid Snake and his complicated misadventures in stopping nuclear disaster.

Kojima and Solid Snake have come a long way since the late 90's and the duo have only become stronger in every way. The dynamic collaboration between Konami and Kojima Productions have seen incredible results and a very loyal and strong fan base. Thirteen years later, Hideo Kojima has taken a look back in a recent interview to reflect on each of his four main entries in the Metal Gear Solid franchise.

From the very beginning, after MGS was released Kojima knew that his fate with the PlayStation system was etched in stone. The final product, according to Kojima, was more than exceptional.

“It was a very pure experience. I was just making the game I wanted to make. Looking back, there’s not anything in particular I want to go back and fix. If you change anything, you change the game — and I want to avoid that. If you bring the gameplay up to modern standards, then you lose a bit of the original game. It was a game made for a certain era — not just the story, but the controls and everything about it reflect that era in which the game was made.”

Take a look back at the very first trailer for Metal Gear Solid:


The recent release of the Metal Gear Solid HD Collection has brought new feelings toward a remake, but Kojima sees it as an improvement of graphics rather than changing anything. Hideo also takes a few notes from George Lucas in terms of remakes versus remastering:

“My general policy is not really to revisit older things — technology advances and sometimes older games become unplayable. So leaving the past in the past has been my approach up to this point. But a lot of people wanted to see the old games remastered, and recently there’ve been a lot of movies, such as Star Wars, that have come on to Blu-ray, so I’ve changed my opinion on that. Looking at things, it’s like: well, you don’t necessarily have to change everything — you can remaster and just make it look pretty. I can take the originals and just make them look nicer and prettier, while preserving the essence of the game.”

Looking back at Metal Gear Solid, there is indeed some signs of aging and interesting choices of gameplay with above the action camera angles. However, while Kojima makes no promise of remaking the game, it is interesting that he didn't include the original in the MGS HD Collection - maybe he does want to remake it? (The original is available on the PSN network.)

Two years later and an impressively increased budget, Kojima unleashed a nine-minute trailer for Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty that received explosions of excitement at 2000's E3. The dramatically improved game — that was released in 2001 — brought a whole new level of gameplay and graphics that would serve as a shining star on the PlayStation 2.

“It was pretty easy to carry over into 2. The first game did very well, so it became possible to meet more expectations and commit more to the sequel — there was a bigger budget, so we could implement more things. For example, the music: I wanted to use really big-name composers and have it really epic. We couldn’t do it on 1 because we didn’t have the numbers to back it up, but for 2 that became possible.”

After revisiting the sequel with MGS HD Collection, Kojima admits that it was quite difficult going back to an old system of gameplay.

“Revisiting that top-down camera was a little difficult. We experimented with putting a 3D camera in there, but you’d see things you weren’t supposed to see and it threw off the balance. My concern is that I don’t know how modern players will accept that top-down view if they’re playing for the first time. If you were to compare it to cars, one is manual shift and one is automatic: there are things that are good about driving a manual, but at the same time it’s harder for people to get into. Then there’s automatic: it’s easier for people to get into but at the same time it loses a little bit.”

Check out the E3 2000 trailer for Metal Gear Solid 2:


Concluding a most successful run with MGS2, the world would learn the truth and the back story behind Big Boss with Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater. Released on the PS2, this new entry to the franchise - removing Snake from the enclosure of a cold metal base environment, the main protagonist was thrown into the unforgiving arms of the Soviet jungle.

MGS3 took the idea of infiltration and stealth to a whole new level. Camouflage and survival tactics were the most notable additions and some of the most rewarding contributions to the series yet. You literally had to blend into environments in order to survive. Not only did gamers have to become fashionistas, but they had to learn how to medically fix wounds and mind their food consumption. These added elements to the series only increased the bond between gamer and Snake.

Metal Gear Solid 3 was also added to the remastered MGS HD Collection - and Kojima believes that this entry was the easiest to enhance:

“There’s nothing too difficult — it already had a 3D camera that you could control, so it was easy to get back into that. I think the thing that you feel most is how the controls have aged.”

Watch the trailer for Metal Gear Solid 3:


Now after three very successful games, how would Kojima surprise anyone in the gaming community? How about creating one of the most cinematically rich experiences ever to be played on the PlayStation 3? Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots not only delivered Raiden as the sword-wielding badass that we may or may not get in Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance, but the game also brought an amazing story and intense gameplay.

Utilizing story arcs, gameplay, and characters from every previous entries as well as bringing players back to Shadow Moses, MGS4 is, for many, a masterpiece. But how does Kojima feel he did with the critically acclaimed fourth entry to the franchise? Not good. How could a game with so many positive reviews not live up to the creators own expectations?

“It sounds strange saying this now, but I feel we didn’t achieve all that I wanted to do with 4. One of the things I wanted to do was not just show pretty graphics, but represent things that you normally can’t see. So for example, if you burn something and the chemicals affect other things, or if water spills on the grass then at some point maybe a flower would grow and pop out of it. Things that normally haven’t been shown before in a game.”

What has Kojima learned from all of his experiences leading up to MGS4? Where did Kojima gone wrong? It is definitely not a stand alone game, but perhaps he would have liked to have developed more in terms of story or gave players more time to play rather than deliver stellar graphics or loads of cut scenes?

“I feel that maybe I didn’t accomplish all that I set out to do at the start of the game. Looking back at it, we pushed the graphics rather than some of the other things we wanted to do. From that perspective it became like a movie-game — it has that reputation of being like a movie in the form of a game. So that’s where it came from — maybe it was a bit of a misstep, and I could reprioritise things moving forward. That’s something I learned from 4.”

Relive Metal Gear Solid 4 in an all-too awesome trailer from E3 2007:


So where will we see the master of tactical espionage action, Hideo Kojima, go from here? The spin-off, Metal Gear Rising, is not pleasing fans as much as one would expect right now, even with developers strongly backing it up, but perhaps that is due to Kojima not behind the driver's seat. If Revengeance fails, it could hurt the name Metal Gear but only a little - since it is a spin-off rather than a sequel/prequel.

Of course, many loyal fans to the Metal Gear Solid franchise are holding on to hope of a potential Metal Gear Solid 5. Although Kojima has stated that he will have to make a MGS5 and that he has thrown ideas around for the next entry, there is still nothing set in stone. One could only hope that we will see Kojima follow through on his word and join Solid Snake again on his plight to rid the world of war.

Ranters, now that we have looked back on the Metal Gear Solid franchise with Hideo Kojima, which is your favorite MGS entry? If it happens, where would you like to see the franchise head after Revengeance?


Source: PlayStation Magazine: Article 1, Article 2, Article 3, & Article 4

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