This week saw the release of the PlayStation 4 remake of Shadow of the Colossus by Texas based studio BluePoint Games. The game has been very well received by the press and gamers alike, garnering even higher ratings than the original PlayStation 2 game when it came out over a decade ago. What people like about this remake is that it is very faithful to the original, and it manages to retain its characteristic atmosphere, but at the same time it is still a huge upgrade, and easily one of the best looking games of the past few years. It’s a classic disguised as a brand new game.
In 2004, Metal Gear Solid was remade exclusively for the Nintendo Gamecube, in a collaboration between Nintendo, Canadian studio Silicon Knights and Japanese cinematographer Ryuhei Kitamura. Subtitled The Twin Snakes, the result was a game with a distinct style, but it was criticized by many for deviating too much from the original game in terms of tone and style. Especially the over-the-top cutscenes, directed by Kitamura in his trademark style, drew criticism from fans. They saw Snake doing backflips and jumping on rockets, something that jarred with the established tone of the series. Ironically it was actually Kojima who asked Kitamura to inject the game with his own style, as he was a big fan of the director’s work.
Several years later, in 2011, Konami and Bluepoint worked together to rerelease Metal Gear Solid 2, 3 and Peace Walker on PlayStation 3 and the Xbox 360. These were not full remakes but HD remasters, enriching the games with a higher resolution and frame-rate. In other words, Bluepoint is already familiar with the series, and although the remasters were not perfect, they were very well received and brought the classic games to a new generation of fans. Now the studio could take it a step further.
If The Twin Snakes was meant to differentiate itself from the original game and be its own thing, Bluepoint’s remake could go in the other direction and be a more faithful recreation, while still updating the visuals and controls, freed from the limitations of the time.
Of course, there are some difficulties that need to be considered. The original Metal Gear Solid had a fixed camera with a top down view, so changing it to a 3D, controllable camera would alter the gameplay somewhat, as would the ability to aim in third or first person view if they would decide to add it (something that was done for The Twin Snakes). However, the Shadow Moses chapter in Metal Gear Solid 4, which had a 3D camera and free (first person) aiming, showed us that this doesn’t have to be a problem.
As with Shadow of the Colossus, Bluepoint could also add some new features to the game. The developers enriched the game with a few new easter eggs and collectibles as well as an extensive photo mode that players can use to capture the beautiful world of the game, with selectable filters that can also be applied to the game while playing. The remake also added a statistics screen that keeps track of certain accomplishments and tasks, and which encourages you to try out different things in an attempt to break your own records. All of these additions could be implemented in a Metal Gear Solid remake as well, and perhaps some new inclusions could be added on top of that. Metal Gear Solid V already provided a comprehensive stat screen, and they could be a helpful tool for the player when aiming for the codename ranking system, as well as letting players compete in online leaderboards.
Another welcome addition would be a theater mode, that lets you replay previous cutscenes. As an extra they could give you a more dynamic toolset like the theater mode in MGS2, that let you swap out the characters in the scene for hilarious results. Speaking of cutscenes, this would be one of the more dramatic changes, with rerecorded scenes using the performance capture techniques of the later games in the franchise. Of course that would mean bringing all the original actors back for the best results, and it would require quite a bit of time and effort, but the outcome would be worth it.
Remakes of classic games can be a touchy subject matter, but Shadow of the Colossus on PS4 proved that even a game as distinctive as Fumito Ueda’s masterpiece can be recreated by another studio if done with enough care and respect for the original vision. Some games are milestones that deserve to be brought back for a new generation of players, and Metal Gear Solid is certainly one of those. After the mixed reception of The Twin Snakes, Konami should give it another shot with a more faithful, but thorough remake, and Bluepoint seems like just the studio for the job.