2013 – A Year in Review
The year is almost over. And what a year it has been! Looking back, it’s hard to believe how much has transpired during 2013. Here is a countdown of the five biggest, most controversial Metal Gear related news stories of the past year.
The tumultuous road of MGSV’s Next Gen versions
Metal Gear Solid: Ground Zeroes was originally announced for PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360. But given the fact that next gen consoles were already around the corner, many people were hoping for and expecting a release for the new systems as well. For a while, Kojima didn’t want to deny or confirm the existence of these versions, until E3 2013. However, it was in an interview in Dubai, as early as January 21st, that Kojima first hinted at the possibility.
After that, it was quiet for a long while until just before E3. On June 7, after Konami’s pre-E3 show, GTTV published an interview with Hideo Kojima, hosted by Geoff Keighley. During this interview Kojima once again hinted at next gen releases, but this time it seemed pretty much a given that they would be announced at the E3 show.
One last unexpected thing though, was that the first confirmation of the next gen versions was not at Sony’s E3 conference, but at Microsoft’s, announcing the game for the Xbox One on June 10. The day after, the game was also confirmed for PlayStation 4, and on June 14 Kojima talked for the first time about the differences between the various generations.
Now that the next-gen versions had been announced, people were disappointed to learn that the game would release in physical and digital form for 360 and PS3, but only as a digital release for PS4 and XB1. At least outside of Japan, because the Japanese did get not just one, but several physical versions on the PlayStation 4. A petition was initiated and European brand manager Steven Key began lobbying for a western disc release. Finally, on December 10, Konami confirmed retail versions for the next generation systems. But now, a new discussion was born, that of the missing Kaz on the western cover art. In an earlier interview, Kojima already stated he might have to remove Kaz due to the fact that he isn’t as well known in the west (Peace Walker didn’t sell too well). On December 23rd, he commented on this decision again. But there was also some good news: apparently the retail versions will feature some kind of bonus content.
Ground Zeroes and The Phantom Pain – two parts or one whole?
On March 27, during the Game Developers Conference, it was finally confirmed that Ground Zeroes and The Phantom Pain were both part of the same thing: Kojima’s new game Metal Gear Solid V. However, this was not the end of the confusion and unclarity. For months, Konami and Kojima Productions were not clear on the distribution method of both projects. Was it going to be one game, made up of two parts? Or two separate releases? And if so, were they both going to release on all platforms? Digital distribution or retails releases? These kinds of questions were at the forefront of the discussion for weeks in succession.
The reason Konami didn’t want to announce their plans, probably was because they simply had not decided yet. But on November 4, Konami finally provided clarity: Ground Zeroes was going to be released as its own game. On December 9, Konami announced the precise release dates. Ground Zeroes will serve as a prologue for players to get into the story and get used to the new open world style. Kojima compared it to the first 15 minutes of a movie, before the title screen. As such, it will be releasing at a lower price. Kojima also explained he initially wasn’t planning to do these separate releases, but The Phantom Pain is such an ambitious project (according to Kojima about 300 times larger than Ground Zeroes) that it will take a while before it’s released, and having unveiled the game as early as August 2012, he felt people needed something to hold them over. Will it be enough to justify its price? Well, that’s for everyone to decide, but according to Kojima Productions, it will offer quite a bit of gameplay if you try to complete it.
The Quiet Controversy
On September 4, Kojima announced he was going to release the full character model of MGSV’s female character Quiet (to help cosplayers out), and teased a snippet in advance. Two days later the full character was revealed. This was the spark for an enormous and ever growing firestorm of controversy. Game developers and journalists expressed their shock and disagreement to the character design, much to Kojima’s dismay. Kojima, and even Quiet’s actress herself (Stefanie Joosten) assured the public that there is a reason for Quiet to look the way she does, but it obviously can’t be revealed yet. Kojima later stated that he feels it was probably a mistake to reveal Quiet like this.
The Elusive Joakim Mogren
There isn’t much that hasn’t been said about this crazy PR stunt: the so-called ‘Joakim Mogren‘ was presumably the head of Swedish studio Moby Dick, developing their first game ‘The Phantom Pain’. The conspiracy theories were through the roof: people thought it was Cliff Bleszinski and gaming community NeoGAF was split into two: a considerable part actually believed Joakim (anagram for Kojima) Mogren wasn’t a real person but a CG face rendered by the Fox Engine (Team Real versus Team CG). In the end, it was all a ruse: Mogren was nothing more than an actor hired by Konami and Kojima wanted to see how the public would respond to the Fox Engine if they didn’t know he was behind it. But it turned out people figured it out far more quickly then was anticipated.
Kiefer Sutherland is the new Snake
The choice to replace David Hayter as the voice of Big Boss by actor Kiefer Sutherland will probably enter the history books of gaming as one of the most controversial decisions ever made. The reason this was done was because with this new game, the studio will make heavy use of facial capture in stead of words as a means to convey emotions. For this subtle performance, Kojima had to look for a professional actor, whereas Hayter is more of a traditional voice actor.
Hell brook loose as soon as the word got out. While Hayter himself happily threw more oil on the fire with suggestive tweets, a petition to bring him back for the role was signed by thousands, people were bombarding Metal Gear’s official Facebook page for weeks and Hayter became one of the top trending topics on Twitter the day the news broke, ending up even higher than MGSV itself.
In the weeks before their E3 press conference, Konami started hyping the official announcement of the new actor for Snake. Of course many people already suspected it was Kiefer Sutherland – his voice could be heard in the trailer for The Phantom Pain -, but that didn’t stop Konami from dedicating pretty much the entire Metal Gear segment of their show to this decision. Needless to say the discussion didn’t stop, and still really hasn’t.
So, it’s safe to conclude that regardless of the fact if you agree or disagree with some of the decisions made during this game’s development so far, we can all agree on one thing: it hasn’t been boring. Let’s see if 2014 can top this.