At a recent event held, in part, to announce the opening of their new Los Angeles studio, Konami and Kojima Productions revealed new details about the upcoming stealth action game Metal Gear Solid: Ground Zeroes.
Set in the studio’s theater, the event consisted of a previously seen trailer, a live demo — which was running on a PC and is representative of how the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 versions of the game will look — and a Q&A session with director Hideo Kojima and art director Yoji Shinkawa that we were not allowed to record.
In the demo, Solid Snake (a.k.a. Big Boss) has to infiltrate a Naval Prison Facility in Cuba. Though, for the purposes of the event, his mission had him tasked with recovering a cloth patch with a red version of the Kojima Productions fox logo, the symbol of their L.A. studio (in the real game, Snake will obviously have something more pressing to do).
While looking for the patch, Snake displayed a handful of new abilities, such as how he can now jump off ledges, easily disarm enemies he surprises, and, when the mission is done, call in a helicopter to pick him up. Snake can also, using his binoculars, tag enemies and objectives, and use satellites to get an overview of the battlefield, which will also show where tagged enemies and places are located.
But the biggest new skill he’s learned is that when he alerts someone, time now slows down for a moment, giving Snake the chance to take out the enemy before said enemy can alert his coworkers. Which was illustrated in the demo when Snake dropped off an overhang, unaware that there was a guard underneath it, and was given a split second to pop the guy. Well, face, really. As Kojima explained, this mechanic was added because Ground Zeroes is set in an open world, and thus it’s possible to alert someone who isn’t physically close to Snake.
Kojima went on to explain that while Ground Zeroes is set in open areas, it’s actually an open world game in a very narrow sense. This is intentional since it’s actually the prequel to the also upcoming Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain — which is set nine years later, in 1984, and will be a true open world game — and Kojima wants Ground Zeroes to help easy longtime Metal Gear Solid players into the idea of an open word M.G.S. game. (Though it’s still not clear if Ground Zeroes is just the first part of Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain, or a separate game; something, I was told, that will clarified soon).
That said, Kojima did say that both Ground Zeroes and The Phantom Pain would be different from what he called “generic open world games.” And while he didn’t mention any generic open world games specifically, he did say the Metal Gear Solid ones would be different because of the story and all the infiltrating you’ll be doing.
Instead, he likened Ground Zeroes to a TV show, in that you’ll have a number of different missions to complete, and that together they’ll tell the whole story. He also said that while he likes linear games, he also likes players to have choices, and open world games are much better suited for this.
In addition, because they’re open world games, neither game will have as many cinematics as 2008’s Metal Gear Solid: Guns Of The Patriots, since cut scenes, Kojima feels, tend to be a disruption in open world games. He also added that the transitions between cut scenes and gameplay sequences would also be more seamless than in any previous game.
Visually, the HUD in Ground Zeroes was rather minimalistic compared to earlier Metal Gear Solid games, with most of it appearing at the center of the screen, as opposed to in the bottom corners. This, Kojima noted, was an attempt to minimize the sense that you’re playing a game, though he admitted that he was still not completely satisfied with how it works at this point.
He also, when asked, noted that while the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One versions of the game will obviously look better than their PS3 and 360 counterpoints — noting that the next-gen editions will boast better textures, lighting, and shadows, and will run at 60 frames per second, as opposed to the 30 of current gen — he also pointed out that the gameplay will otherwise be the same.
Finally, they revealed that the online part of Ground Zeroes was being done by the Los Angeles studio, though they didn’t go into any details about what those modes would entail.
Of course, without getting to play the game in the comfort of my own home (which I selflessly offered to do, to no avail), it’s impossible to gauge how these additions will impact the game, or how good the game will be when it finally comes out (and no, no release date for Ground Zeroes or The Phantom Pain was announced). But if the footage we saw in both the trailer and during the demo, and what Kojima had to say about the game, are any indication, Metal Gear Solid: Ground Zeroes is certainly shaping up to be a worthy addition to this epic series.