Give Kojima a Much Needed Break Already
By Ravi Singh, Posted on July 9, 2009
With the recent announcements regarding the upcoming Metal Gear titles, one title seems to receive very negative reactions from Metal Gear fans. To be fair, I share some of the reception of Metal Gear Solid: Rising. Didn't Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots kind of, you know, end the series? What the fuck is "Lightning Bolt Action" and how does it differ from "Tactical Espionage Action"? Seriously.
There is nothing wrong from having low expectations. In fact, low expectations might make us feel much better about this game upon it's release should it be anywhere from "okay" to "best Metal Gear game ever." So I'm certainly not saying that we should be more excited than an overage virgin Hannah Montana fanboy waiting for Miley Cyrus to turn eighteen. Nor should we even take the "I have no opinion until this game is released" route because ultimately, it seems kind of sad that the biggest announcement regarding Rising is that it's
exclusively also coming to Xbox 360.
A majority of the response to Rising was regarding Kojima's own words at the time that played down his role in the development of Rising. Oh no, Hideo Kojima is going to sit back and not get involved? What Metal Gear games come to mind when taking Kojima's absence into consideration? That's right, the beloved Metal Gear NES remake, Snake's Revenge, Metal Gear Solid: The Twin Snakes, and last but certainly not least, Metal Gear Solid: Portable Ops.
Perhaps there is a need to be worried after all? To the relief of some, it was then announced that Kojima is going to be more than a producer for this game. Well, that's good, I suppose. Still, the memories of fighting a giant computer with the blue screen of death as well as finding a trap on the train in glorious razor sharp 8-bits has traumatized the fanbase into rejecting anything that is not Hideo Kojima. With the recent over-the-top cutscenes in The Twin Snakes and the just plain awful non-Metal Gear gameplay in Portable Ops, it seems like anything Metal Gear which Kojima doesn't touch is automatically doomed to deep fried shit.
Yet maybe this is a myth of the lack of Kojima's input. As discussed before, the reason why The Twin Snakes' cutscenes ended up the way they were is because Hideo Kojima wanted them that way. He chose the director, after all. Likewise, the genius behind the awful team-based gameplay of Portable Ops is none other than the smiling man who wants to know if you riekd it.
I could also comment on Metal Gear Solid: Touch and Metal Gear Solid: Mobile but I think it should be obvious that, yes, Kojima approved of these unnecessary inclusions to the Metal Gear franchise.
There are other non Kojima Metal Gear games that people tend to forget though. Metal Gear: Ghost Babel (Metal Gear Solid for GameBoy Color in the west) and the Metal Gear Acid titles are often times ignored… because they're noncanon and Kojima's involvement with both games is mild, at best. Hell, the Acid games are played like no other Metal Gear. But while Acid does shift the Metal Gear gameplay towards a more RPG/strategy (while respectfully removing "Tactical Espionage Action" and "Solid" from the game title) Metal Gear: Ghost Babel is much like Metal Gear Solid in 8-bit. Which works quite well as Metal Gear Solid was a 3D game only for looks with exception to the Stinger missile launcher and PSG-1.
Then again, the main worry is Kojima's lack of involvement with the storyline. Even though the Acid games had an okay story and Ghost Babel had a very remarkable story all thanks to Tomokazu Fukushima and Shinta Nojiri, both are noncanon anyways. Fuck, the story in the Acid games might have incited rage if these games were included in the canon. Hideo Kojima has been shaping the story of the Metal Gear series since 1987. This is his series. How can we let it go in the hands of someone else?
I say we happily let it go in someone else's hands.
Hideo Kojima's writing skills have been very off since Snake Eater. It's not his fault at all. While series such as Harry Potter, Star Wars, and The Matrix have been planned from an early time, Metal Gear was planned as one game. Oh, bam, sequel. Years later, another sequel with plans for another that will end the series. No? Ok well how about a prequel with some bad guy being the good guy haha… oh fuck you still want another sequel? Fine. Thus we have Guns of the Patriots wrapping up things that weren't meant to be wrapped up, reusing tired characters, filled to the top with awkward love scenes and copouts. The biggest message I got from Guns of the Patriots was "Hideo Kojima really needs a break from Metal Gear," despite the lectures of injections, globalization and the privatization of the military. How about a new game series, Kojima? Or another installment in the Snatcher and/or Zone of the Enders series if originality is that difficult for you? Drop Metal Gear or just hand it to someone else already.
Now that doesn't mean that they can pick some random guy off the street to write the story to Rising and it will be alright. Who knows, maybe Rising takes place so far in the future than Kojima essentially gives himself more of a blank canvas to paint his story on, should he be involved with the story of this title. If I hear of Nojiri or Fukushima's involvement with Rising, I would certainly be very enthusiastic. Even then though, either one could still fuck it up. Nojiri was heavily involved with the third Act of Guns of the Patriots. Dear God.
Besides, Hideo Kojima is no Alan Moore. Whereas Alan Moore will demand his name be taken off of adaptations of his work that he sees as useless or just shitty in general, Kojima will happily endorse it and stamp his name on it. Portable Ops was promoted by Hideo Kojima in interviews while The Twin Snakes actually has Kojima's name listed on the boxart as "producer." Kojima even went as far as basically confirming that he needs to "consider" the target audience of Metal Gear Solid: Portable Ops–thirteen year-old boys–because they are "important."
Why is Hideo Kojima worried about this target audience? Shouldn't he just worry about his own story? The themes he wants to convey? The gameplay he wants to incorporate in games? Has Kojima focused more on being a businessman than being a good storyteller and game designer? Apparently he has no qualms with having games in his Metal Gear series that are so bad that they would be more pleasurable if they were lubed up and shoved inside your rectum, as long as they sell. Likewise he has no qualms about little things like a few inaccuracies in the Metal Gear Solid 4 Database and the shameful writing in Raymond Benson's novel adaptation. Sure, Kojima isn't fluent in English but either he only cares about the royalty check he receives or just doesn't give a shit about the fact that the novel reads like a deliberately loathsome fanfic at times.
Kojima's lack of involvement should never be a reason to rally behind the "story will suck" expectation bandwagon. What should, though, is the lack of any sort of information regarding the story of Rising, at least for now. The only thing we really know about the game itself is that it is using a new multiplatform game engine and that it will have better graphics than Guns of the Patriots. Sounds great, but I don't think Rising really needs better graphics than Guns of the Patriots. It needs a better story.
Maybe it would be a good thing if Kojima sits this one out.