Getting Over Metal Gear Survive
A monthly glimpse into whatever gaming bugaboo Rob’s got on his mind.
This column is a reprint from Unwinnable Monthly #83, the Love issue. If you like what you see, grab the magazine for less than ten dollars, or subscribe and get all future magazines for half price.
Back in December of 2015, when Hideo Kojima officially left Konami, everyone was wondering what would become of the Metal Gear series. Ever since Metal Gear Solid was first released on the original PlayStation, it had become something of a AAA juggernaut with a seriously devoted fanbase. And suddenly, papa was leaving.
Jumping back into present day, we finally have our answer. What, exactly, is Konami going to do with the Metal Gear name aside from slap it onto gaudy pachinko machines? Metal Gear Survive – a cooperative zombie survival game set in the Metal Gear universe. Or parallel universe. The trailer doesn’t exactly make that clear.
Fans are pissed – how dare Konami turn their beloved franchise into such a joke? Game sites are reporting on the news with mockery and derision – this never would have happened with Kojima at the helm. Here’s the thing: they’re wrong on both counts. Hate on and mock Metal Gear Survive all you want – I certainly plan on it – but don’t pretend that Hideo Kojima would’ve somehow magically fixed anything.
The Metal Gear series, especially Metal Gear Solid, has been getting more absurd since 1998. I’ve never tried to hide my disdain for Hideo Kojima’s storylines and, to be quite honest, I don’t consider zombies to be the weirdest thing they could’ve gone with. Cyborg ninjas; psychics that can only be defeated by breaking the fourth wall and using the second player controller; surfing on guided missiles; guards with debilitating diarrhea; nanomachines; whatever the fuck you want to call those codec conversations inside Arsenal Gear; pervy photo shoots with PTSD suffering women in cybernetic armor; capturing animals for your own private zoo because reasons; literally waiting long enough for a boss to die of old age; a Monster Hunter crossover; an almost naked sniper who breathes through her skin; whales made out of fire; a guy who controls bees; freaking ghosts – all weirder than zombies. Also, wait, what was the last one I wanted to mention? Oh yeah, ACTUAL ZOMBIES.
Remember The Phantom Pain? I would hope so because it came out just last year. Yeah, there were zombies in it by way of The Skulls – the parasite-controlled super zombie soldiers from Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain. Not only is it an idea that’s already been used in the franchise, it’s something Kojima himself added. The same goes for multiplayer. Metal Gear Online has a pretty devoted following on its own, so is an online cooperative game that (technically) takes place in the same general setting really such a big stretch? Nope.
None of this is to say that Metal Gear Survive will necessarily be any good. I’m pretty sure it won’t, to be honest. However, people need to stop pretending that they wouldn’t be lapping it up if it was the self-proclaimed “auteur’s” idea in the first place. There would still be some mockery. Several people would roll their eyes, just as they did at the idea of an action game starring Raiden as a cybernetic ninja who dices up everything into little chunks and eats robot spines. But the fans would defend it right up to its release, then defend it even more if it turned out to be – gasp – bad.
Konami can be blamed for a lot of things. They’re letting popular series stagnate, turning others into glorified slot machines, alienating their best talent, treating employees like garbage and making it clear just how little they care about what the fans want. However, they shouldn’t be blamed for making a mockery of Metal Gear. It’s several years too late for that.