Everybody's watching the Metal Gear Solid Ground Zeroes trailer, but nobody's *listening* - and a telltale audio 'swoosh' might be the biggest clue yet about the game's mysterious structure.
Kojima has described Ground Zeroes as 'open world', but is cagey about its structure. "You can call in a chopper any time, anywhere... that will take you to your base, or another mission." Kojima revealed at the recent EG Expo, "I can't reveal too much about what happens after you get in your chopper, but you get in and fly to your base."
What's the big secret?
A key clue, as many have noted, is a series of flashing yellow bars that appear whenever someone gets in a chopper. They look a *bit* like a DNA sequence, or some kind of code. They could be explained away as fanciful lens flare effects, but open your ears, and it's clearly something more significant.
Every time the flashing yellow bars appear, they're accompanied by a distinctive audio swoosh. Do lights make a noise? Unlikely. Watch the video above and you'll hear what we mean.
The flashing bars and audio signature appear three times: 1) When the scarred man enters the chopper (at 05.57 in the trailer) 2) When Snake enters the chopper (at 13.07 in the extended 14-minute trailer with gameplay footage) and 3) When Snake uses his holographic iDroid radar device (at 9.04).
What links the three? Bar the audio and visual signature, it's not immediately obvious, but all represent communication / transportation devices that 'break' the spell of the world. The holographic iDroid device looks especially incongruous for the mooted 70s setting.
Could it be that the chopper doesn't carry you through physical space, but acts as a conduit to your base - almost like the animus in Assassin's Creed? Or could it be a linking device in a VR mission? If that was true, the iDroid is 'reality breaking' in the same way that Neo contacts the operator within the Matrix.
It sounds insane, but such a device would allow Kojima to skip time periods with ease, covering a rich period of MGS history from the mid 70s to the mid 90s, as we extensively covered in our Metal Gear Solid 5 prediction feature.
It would also explain why Kojima was so quick to dispel rumours when early images showed a young looking, dark haired Snake, plus an older, more wrinkled, greying version. Kojima explained the greying due to Fox Engine's aggressive rim-lighting - but could it be folk were erring too close to the truth and he wanted to keep a secret? It's hard to tell, but interesting nonetheless.
At the EG Expo, Kojima revealed, "I don't think I could ever create a Snake who was much younger than myself". Kojima is 50 years old, and if Ground Zeroes is set purely in the mid 70s, Snake / Big Boss would be 'only' 40. Not a big gap, but worth noting.
The man himself told us in our Hideo Kojima E3 interview that his next game would be about 'love and family.' If our theory is right, then leaping between time periods in Ground Zeroes would allow Big Boss to see his 'kids' - Solid Snake, Liquid and Solidus - growing up.
It's also worth noting a distinctive - though different - audio swoosh at other stages of the trailer: 1) When Chico plugs in his Walkman (at 2.17) and 2) When the camera focuses on the US flag (at 3.55). A flashing white light accompanies both incidents, as you can see in the video. The Walkman and US Flag could both be used to date and locate the game's setting, so it could be Kojima is flagging them as red herrings.
It's also worth noting how the audio is replaced by the 'Here's to You' music when Chico plugs in his Walkman, almost like he's zoning out of reality. Is Kojima commenting on social networks and the way we escape reality via the internet and smartphones? Or, like Chico, are we being conditioned, via the game, to become a 'soldier'? Perhaps it too closely echoes the themes of MGS2 and MGS4.
Ground Zeroes uses a realistic day and night cycle but Kojima adds, "Later on in the game, time will pass in real-time". We're unsure of the significance, but again it suggests time as a key theme.
Only last month, Kojima ran through the key themes of all the MGS games to date on his twitter account: "Gene→Meme→Scene→Sense→Peace→?" Could the new theme be 'time'?
It's all speculation for now, and the game might just be set in the 70s, but the audio-swoosh and flashing lights are clearly significant.
Jumping between key moments in MGS history - from rescuing Chico in Cuba, to recovering Frank Jaeger in Rhodesia - certainly appeals. And what if our base wasn't 'Mother Base' - as seen in Peace Walker - but Outer Heaven, that Big Boss sets up in the late 80s? Well, one can dream.
What do you think? I'd love to hear what you make of the lights in the comments below. Or follow me on twitter for more MGS insight on @DanDawkins.