Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Metal Gear: Survive Demo Backlash

Konami is putting it all out there for Metal Gear: Survive and showcased 15 minutes of game play at the Tokyo Game Show. Things may not be looking good among their target audience; at half a million views, it's 1,300 Likes is paltry compared to the 21k dislikes currently brewing on the video. The knee-jerk reaction may be that gamers are still showing their dislike for Konami and how they treated Kojima and his team over the past year. Or is the game demo that bad?

Though I did not like the first game trailer, I'm willing to sacrifice some of my sanity to watch the demo and provide an honest review of the content and try to reign in my Kojima-fangirl nature.

The focus of the Survive demo is to showcase the co-op feature, stealth, and defense tactics you need to use to progress through the missions. What we know so far is that the game takes place in the same general time-frame as Metal Gear Solid 5. A rift in time opens and send your character and others into various alternate realities. You have to work with other gamers to meet the course objectives (I'm assuming the point is to try and escape the new reality you're in to get back to the old one?) while avoiding zombie-like creatures and other humans.

The stealth portion of Survive is similar to MGS5. Hiding and sneaking gives you tactical advantages. While it does take longer then the run and gun method, you can use objects like grenades to distract zombies before you move in for the kill. You can pick up various objects such as baskets and flowers to add to your inventory. The first few minutes of the demo is more of a sneaky, zombie-killing Minecraft gathering mission then Metal Gear Solid. If you take damage, you can use the items you have found to heal yourself, otherwise your character will limp along and be a distraction. Otherwise, it's similar to any other MGS game with the stealth. Lying on the ground makes you magically invisible and enemies can't see you.

The defense portion is just like any FPS game where you have to hold your position and keep your zone clear of enemies. This section of game play is very straight forward where stealth is moot. You can create traps, build retaining walls, and create paths to direct your enemies to their demise. Items that you pick up around your base can be used to build new weapons, such as turrets. Otherwise, you get the point; shoot to kill, shoot to live. It's no different then playing Left 4 Dead after you hit the final buzzer at the end of a level, and a horde of zombies come after you. You have to live long enough to beat the game timer and you're done. Other then slightly nicer graphics, there isn't anything impressive here.

As I was watching the game play, it occurred to me that Survive looks too much like MGS5 with a different wrapper. It's a number of the same assets, mechanics, environment, and designs that it could easily be an expansive DLC campaign of multiplayer to MGS5 and it would be okay. Like the zombie-add on to Call of Duty, it's a superfluous piece that people would buy for the lulz. Survive as a stand-alone that borrows heavily from the MGS5 content pool feels like a slap to the face for consumers.

The other concern I have is the lack of story. Even with the spin-off games, with the exception of the pachinko machines, MGS is all about convoluted stories with so much exposition it would cause Voltaire to spin in his grave. The demo focused on the game play without giving us context. Why do we care about this team of soldiers? What is their purpose? Why are they killing zombie-like creatures with red stones on their bodies? Why are the dead bodies floating in the air and going through a portal? Why can I make a bow out of flowers? The lack of context for character motivation makes the demo a bear to sit though. I found my interest in the team waning with each passing minute because I didn't care what happened to them.

If you are brave enough, start watching and come to your own conclusion. The demo itself isn't bad. The comments on some users are pro-Kojima, but others have valid points regarding the odd game play. It's trying to invoke MGS feelings with the stealth game play without trying to be like MGS. Survive is trying to set itself as a different FPS and it may cause trouble down the line for Konami if they can't get their fan-base on board with the concept.

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