So I got word this weekend that MGS patriarch Hideo Kojima actually thought about removing one of the most iconic elements from MGSV: Ground Zeroes: the exclamation “!” mark altogether. My initial thought was “NOOO!!! (Alert!).”
With all the changes the MGS series is already going through (one very unnecessary one in my opinion) I feel removing something that helped set MGS apart from other games would have been a bad move. Why? The “!” Has been a staple of Metal Gear since, well, Metal Gear.
The first game that released in 1987, was new and innovative at the time. Stealth gaming, amidst all the action related games, was relatively unheard of. Metal Gear operated on quietly sneaking around enemies to get from point A to point B. If somehow you got spotted you were met with a barrage of bullets and enemies with “!” or even “!!” over their heads, signifying that they know exactly where you are and to kill onsite.
The new game, MGSV, has a lot of new elements for us to fawn over, like actually being able to JUMP from ledges and climb the sides of buildings when needed, or SPRINTING instead of JOGGING. Other elements synonymous with Metal Gear that were removed in Peace Walker (for reasons unknown) which makes a return to MGSV is the ability to CRAWL. Players have been able to crawl since the 2nd game, Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake. Why remove a mechanic that was so crucial and actually added good dimension to gameplay? Unfortunately, without a solid answer from Kojima, my question is just rhetorical.
The reason, though why Kojima considered removing the “!” is to make MGSV “more realistic.” I put that in quotes because c’mon son. Anyone who’s ever played a Metal Gear game KNOWS that the story any characters dabble in anything BUT realism. Ok, let me backtrack a bit. There ARE elements of “realism” within the MGS world. Like nuclear arms, real-world weapons (barring Fortune’s mini railgun), real-world locales like NYC, the Middle East, etc. But apart from that you have things like Psycho Mantis, clones, nanomachines, naked no-handed somersaulting, Cyborg Ninja, bi-curious vampires, and um, METAL GEARS. So this franchise isn’t exactly the epitome of REALISM. So, “Kojima’s Reason For Realism”, go home, you’re drunk.
I’ll say this… Kojima wanting to expand MGS to be open world is great. I’m totally on board with that. A more westernized game? Sure. Changing Snake’s voice actor? Meh, not so much. But I like Kiefer Sutherland, plus it’s out of our hands. Darker tone with child soldiers? Lets do it. Media such as movies, shows, and music have been sporting mature content for ages. Games are slowly catching up and there needs to be a place for maturity. There’s no way to avoid it, controversy or not. If under 17 years old, then don’t buy it. Problem solved. And lest we forget, Peace Walker, a game aimed toward teens who own PSPs, had a child soldier Snake has so rescue. Plus he says “BULLSHIT!” in a codec conversation.
BTW Hideo did also say that another MGS element, the cardboard box, will stay. So there’s that.