Script: Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain

Note: As promised, here is the first of three contributor Scripts to celebrate the launch of the redesigned site. John Keefe has bravely faced Hideo Kojima's latest offering and you can go marvel at the results through the link above. There's some further thoughts from John below, and they couldn't conflict with Ed Smith's opinion any harder if they tried.

-- Joannes

Hideo Kojima is one of gaming’s first and finest auteurs, producing innovative and experimental titles that have defied convention in every respect and have also sometimes been kind of good. He’s created some of the most memorable characters in gaming, crafting a convoluted pastiche universe blending pathos, duplicity, and weird clown humour in a way that’s only occasionally coherent but always fascinating. Kojima is uncompromising, unhindered, and insane. We love him, like that gibbering man on the subway who smells like cheese but churns out some pretty gorgeous crayon drawings in between rants about reptilians causing global warming. But ambition is the curse of great men.

And Hideo, like the glorious bird he is, flew too close to the sun.

The fact that he pulled a game as engaging as MGS 5 out of the wreckage of Konami is a testament to his skill. We may never know the specifics behind his falling out with the company that nurtured him, as Japanese corporate culture is insular bordering on cultish. We know they fucked him. Hard. There’s an alternate universe very close to this one where MGS 5 has a third act. Not in our reality. Maybe Konami will release it as a goddam pachinko machine. Who knows? It’s a crying shame.

I’ve never been huge on Kojima games, simply because I think they’d be better as anime films. Thirty minutes is too fucking long for a cutscene. But this game remedied a lot of the complaints I’ve had about open world games for some time. The exposition is delivered through audio logs you can listen to at your leisure, the cutscenes are engaging, action packed, and of reasonable length, and the game rarely requires you to do things in any particular way. It’s a sandbox you can actually play in. No Simon Says gameplay here, just tools you can use as you please. To have all this coming from a developer as unpredictable as Kojima is gratifying as balls.

But no. Uncle Hideo couldn't overcome corporate bullshit, and we’re stuck with two-thirds of one of the greatest games of this generation. Losing Silent Hills was bad enough. This - this is just sad.

Hideo has said he’s done with MGS. Konami says they aren’t. So brace yourself for committee-designed knock-off Solid Snake Go-Kart games in the near future. Fuck Konami. I’ll be waiting eagerly for whatever Kojima’s planning on building next in that mad scientist laboratory he totally has. It might not be great, but it will be Kojima.

After MGS 5, he’s earned a little loyalty.




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