With the release of Metal Gear Solid V The Phantom Pain (PlayStation 4, PlayStation 3, Xbox One, Xbox 360, PC), mastermind Hideo Kojima says goodbye to a series he’s steered since 1987’s Metal Gear. But while he’s going out on a high note — as you can see from my review of the game — I couldn’t help but think his departure might actually be a good thing. Here’s why.
1. More Metal Gear Solid
No one could ever accuse Kojima of rushing things. The Phantom Pain, for instance, comes seven years after the last real installment, 2008’s Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns Of The Patriots (six if you think 2014’s Metal Gear Solid V Ground Zeroes counts as a full game, which it doesn’t), while Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater was four years before that. And while there were other games along the way, such as 2010’s Peace Walker and 2013’s spin-off Metal Gear Rising: Revengance, seven years between major chapters is still a long time to wait. Which isn’t to say we need this series to be annualized like Call Of Duty or Madden, but getting more than two a decade would be nice.
2. Less Pervy
Don’t look at me like that, we all know Kojima’s a bit of a perv. From the nude mission in 2001’s Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons Of Liberty and the porn magazines you can use to distract guards to the barely there — and, more importantly, barely practical — outfit of Quiet in Metal Gear Solid V The Phantom Pain, there’s no getting around the fact that, at the very least, Kojima isn’t afraid of getting weird, sexually. But while some of it has worked, most of it’s been just weird. And, in the case of Quiet’s outfit, kind of pointless. Being sexy is one thing; being creepy is something we don’t need.
That said, using a box with a picture of woman in a bikini to distract a guard is a practical idea I hope the U.S. military employs in current and future conflicts.
3. More Logic
Don’t get me wrong, I’ve enjoyed the stories Kojima has told in the Metal Gear Solid games. I just don’t always like how he tells them, since many of the plots have been convoluted by writing that can get deeply philosophical but in a way that isn’t explained well. And I say that as someone who graduated college with a degree in philosophy. Without him, the stories may suffer, but at least they’ll make more sense.
4. More Hayter/Less Kiefer
In Metal Gear Solid V The Phantom Pain and its prequel, Ground Zeroes, the character of Snake is voiced by actor Kiefer Sutherland. And while he does an okay job (mostly because he doesn’t say all that much), for longtime fans of this series, like me, he’s not the real Snake. No, the real Snake is David Hayter, who has given voice to Snake since 1998’s Metal Gear Solid. And may again if Kojima isn’t around, since Konami may realize they don’t have to pay Hayter as much as they do Sutherland.
5. Better Multiplayer
While Metal Gear Solid has had multiplayer for a while, it’s never caught on, or been as good, as the online modes of Halo, Gears Of War, or Call Of Duty. It’s also always seemed rather unnecessary. Though as we saw with Mass Effect 3, there are ways to add multiplayer to a predominantly story-driven game and have it work. My thinking is that with Kojima doing something else, Konami might hire an outside development studio who specialize in competitive multiplayer modes to do the online parts of Metal Gear Solid VI: Snake And Bake or whatever they call the next game.
Despite what I’ve asserted above, we really don’t know what the future may hold for the Metal Gear Solid games without Kojima. By handing the reins of this series off to someone else, we could wind up with something terrible. Just look what happened when Team Ninja made Metroid: Other M. But at the same time, we could end up with something great. Like when Retro Studios made the Metroid Prime games. Or we could get something that isn’t as good as what Kojima has done, but is still really good, like when Treyarch made Call Of Duty: Black Ops. Only time will tell.