Konami’s reveal of Metal Gear Solid Delta: Snake Eater during the recent PlayStation Showcase left me feeling torn. My first thought was about what the hell is going on with that name. My second was that I’m thrilled my favorite game in one of my absolute favorite franchises is having a spotlight shone on it once again. But with this, I’m not quite sure how to feel about the modern state of Konami, and I’m certainly hesitant to embrace a Metal Gear project that exists seemingly without any input or blessing of its creator, Hideo Kojima.
Metal Gear Solid sits right alongside the likes of Zelda, Mario, Final Fantasy, and Persona as my favorite video game franchises ever. It’s been that way ever since I unwrapped the original PlayStation 1 Metal Gear Solid on Christmas Day of 1998 and spent that entire winter break living the life of the world’s greatest soldier. Every installment in the series after that became a milestone gaming event for me, with Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater cementing itself as my favorite in the franchise and arguably my favorite PlayStation 2 game ever.
But in this specific case, it’s almost impossible for me to separate the art from the artist. In the AAA space, Hideo Kojima is as inextricable from his work as any developer ever. Every genius moment, every baffling decision, and every wonderful eccentricity feels like a direct part of him as a creator. The Metal Gear Solid games, and more recently Death Stranding, all feel less like his ideas come to life and more like actual parts of him that have been removed and transformed into an interactive experience.
And so it came as little surprise that, following Kojima’s highly publicized and unceremonious departure from Konami during the development of Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain, the only thing we’ve seen from the series was the limp release of Metal Gear Survive. In the years since then, it hasn’t just felt like the franchise had been abandoned, but the removal of the older games from digital storefronts due to a rights issue, as well as everything surrounding P.T., makes it feel like Konami was trying to erase Kojima’s legacy from existence itself.
Flash forward to the PlayStation Showcase, and not only do we have Metal Gear Solid Delta: Snake Eater, but also Metal Gear Solid Master Collection Vol. 1, which contains (at least) the first three Metal Gear Solid games, presumably in the form of their ports from the Xbox 360 / PlayStation 3-era HD Collection. In none of the video or supplemental material was the name Hideo Kojima ever mentioned.
Almost immediately following the PlayStation Showcase, Kojima tweeted out a series of photos chronicling his lunch on the mo-cap set for Death Stranding 2. This included a can of Sprite, a bit of spaghetti, and three Freddie Mercury action figures posed in what looks like a triangle. I’m not getting my tinfoil hat out of the closet, but this being his reaction to the trailer for Metal Gear Solid Delta contains multitudes.
While part of me is happy that Konami is finally acknowledging its history of incredible games in Suikoden I & II HD Remaster, last year’s Silent Hill announcements, and this recent Metal Gear Solid news, a lot of it leaves a bad taste in my mouth. Bloober Team’s track record doesn’t bode well for remaking the nuanced horror of Silent Hill 2. And reselling the original MGS games in a new package instead of figuring out the licensing issue that plagued the old HD Collection feels like a way for Konami to get idiots like me to rebuy their favorite games yet again so we can play it on modern hardware. And it’s going to work, because like I said, I’m an idiot.
This is all paired with the lack of clarity around just who the hell is actually developing Metal Gear Solid Delta – Kotaku reported that it’s a combination of Virtuos and a nebulous Konami development team. Virtuos is a studio from Singapore known mostly for ports and providing support on larger AAA games like Horizon Zero Dawn. And this lack of clarity continues when it comes to the voice actors in Delta – Konami said that it will feature the voice actors, but does that mean the same literal audio files and line reads, paired with the modern visuals?
By no means am I against remakes of classic games from different studios. I adore Bluepoint’s work revitalizing Shadow of the Colossus and Demon’s Souls, and two of my favorite games of this year have been the Dead Space and Resident Evil 4 remakes. I’m all for taking these excellent experiences from a few generations ago and injecting them with the bells, whistles, and quality-of-life changes that the modern audience has come to expect. But there’s just something about this project in particular trying to pretend like Hideo Kojima never existed that rubs me the wrong way.
I’m hoping Metal Gear Solid 3’s unique and lovable eccentricities aren’t sanded down and homogenized for a modern audience – Ocelot making strange animal noises, climbing the greatest ladder in video game history, and hunting down the Ape Escape chimps in Subsistence‘s excellent minigame are all parts of the the fabric of what makes Snake Eater such a stone-cold classic.
But there’s another way forward aside from these remakes. While I’m not sold on the aforementioned Silent Hill 2 from Bloober Team, I am really excited for the other SH projects that were announced alongside it. Last year, I wrote about my optimism towards Silent Hill: Townfall from No Code and Annapurna, as well as Silent Hill f, and that feeling still stands.
I’d love to see a similar approach taken with Metal Gear – let smaller teams with interesting ideas have a stab at this world, instead of trying to recapture the same magic as before. If Metal Gear Solid Delta: Snake Eater is a success, I’m curious to see where Konami takes Metal Gear next, as well as if it’ll give a similar treatment to something like Castlevania. But I just can’t help feeling like a Metal Gear Solid game without Hideo Kojima will be missing something of great importance. Without Kojima, will these games just feel like a genetic clone, a regurgitated meme, or a phantom pain?