A free-roaming open world. A game with no game overs. Groundbreaking visuals running in real-time on "current-gen" tech. The return of Snake. Welcome to Metal Gear Solid: Ground Zeroes.
This feature comes from the latest issue of PSM3, on sale now.
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We were in the front row for Konami's exclusive press event in Tokyo where Hideo Kojima unveiled Ground Zeroes and Kojima Productions' new Fox Engine, on which the game runs. The Metal Gear 25th Anniversary event was as much a celebration of the franchise as a reveal of two new Metal Gear games (including mobile game Social Ops) and a Hollywood movie.
The event, held at the upmarket Midtown complex in Roppongi, featured camouflaged actors hidden against the walls and drew attendees such as Goichi "Suda51" Suda, as Kojima made several presentations about the future of the Metal Gear franchise.
"I am often asked, 'What is Metal Gear for you?'" said Kojima. "Metal Gear to me is like competing in the Olympics. Just like an Olympic athlete, I make a game every four or five years and try to compete with the rest of the world."
The Olympics - and its parallels with Japan's struggling game industry - were a theme of the anniversary event. Japan had the world's strongest gymnasts in the 1960s and '70s, but from the '80s it suffered an embarrassing losing streak that lasted decades. But things have turned around again: at London 2012, Kohei Uchimura of Japan's Konami-sponsored gymnastics team took home the gold medal...
"They bounced back," Kojima said. "And videogames will be the same. We have to inspire the world like our Olympians. We will show the world our ability, driven by all our soul and passion."
So what does this mean for Metal Gear? Well, the obvious first point is Fox Engine. Kojima is determined to not only evolve his beloved game franchise, but to prove to the world that Japan can still lead the gaming world. And frankly, after 15 minutes basking in the spectacle of MGS: Ground Zeroes, it was hard to disagree.
The game looks stunning from every angle. Kojima's vivid imagination is brought to thrilling reality in FOX Engine, creating a world as striking today as the Metal Gear Solid 2 demo was back in 2000. Rain falls heavily, bouncing off surfaces, streaking across faces in rivulets, soaking into clothing, drizzling from Big Boss' scraggly beard. As an XOF chopper takes off, its blades throw the rain in wide ripples.
The nature of the XOF organisation is just one of the questions raised by the demo. Chico and Paz return from Peace Walker, but why does the young boy - possibly Chico - have a hole in his chest? What year is this? Why does Kojima Productions art show a young Snake, while the demo features an aged Big Boss? Answers will have to wait a while, because as the camera cuts from the XOF choppers down to the ocean and then up the cliff face, you learn that Kojima has abandoned the linear nature of Metal Gear and created an open-world sneaking playground for you to traverse as you like.