Solid Revelations

   29/05/2009 at 18:23       NewYork       3 COMMENTS.
 - 
The gaming world is watching the latest Metal Gear teaser site with hawk eyes. Every scrap of information, from the letters that momentarily appear, to emblem on the cap of "Big Boss", to the colour of Raiden's eye, are being analysed to the nth degree.

Luckily, we're not that far from the big E3 reveal of Hideo Kojima's new game, so soon the wait and constant analysis will all be over. And one day, we'll have the game on our shelves, completed twice, and realise either that the teaser had nothing at all in common with the final game, or that it was dead on.

Hey, that's a perfect excuse to look back at the teasers and reveals of past Metal Gear Solid games, and see what they could teach us about the next Metal Gear revelation.



METAL GEAR SOLID

Metal Gear Solid was unveiled to the public at E3 in 1997 (yes, it really has been that long), but before we look at that, let's see the rather different looking concept trailer from 1996:



Here we can see the major characters are all assembled and accounted for. Shinier graphics and a bulkier menu system are met with a sparser environment than we eventually ended up with in the actual game. But from the beginning, sneaking was at the forefront.



It was the E3 '97 trailer that truly kicked off Metal Gear Solid. Showing off the game world as we would soon become familiar with in lengthy detail, the trailer takes us from the opening locations of the game to deep within the Shadow Moses compound. We get a idea of the sheer variety of gadgets and gameplay types on offer, with Snake sneaking, shooting, avoiding detection from cameras and IR beams, using the scope, the Nikita missile, and blowing the place sky high. Not all the scenes featured in the trailer actually ended up in the game, which is something which would become something of a pattern in Kojima teaser trailers.

What this teaches us for the next Metal Gear: The teasers and trailers may contain artificial situations, not to be seen again in the game proper. Don't always believe what you see!



METAL GEAR SOLID 2: SONS OF LIBERTY

The year 2000 saw MGS2 unveiled at E3 with an explosive 9 minutes of footage:



Sticking strictly to the tanker episode, the trailer of course avoided the major spoiler that would follow it. The most clear omission gamers will spot is that of main character Raiden, who would remain censored from promotional footage up till the game's release. We did get a good idea of the plot (as far as the tanker episode was concerned, at least - obviously the story went in a radically different direction after that). Exciting features included the game's weather effects, dynamic shadows, destructible objects and intelligent soldiers.

The trailer marked the return of old favourites and introduced the new character, Olga. Among other returning characters, we heard the voice of Liquid at the end of the trailer, indicating that Snake's dear brother was not quite ready for the grave, as we had assumed at the end of MGS1. Little did we know, however, the exact nature of Liquid's comeback.

What this teaches us for the next Metal Gear: Just because it's the first trailer, it doesn't mean it won't pack a punch. Just because you see one character, it doesn't mean that's the character you'll end up playing as. And though it may appear as though a face from the past is returning (how can Big Boss be in the same game as Raiden?), that character may not return in the way you imagined.



METAL GEAR SOLID 3: SNAKE EATER

MGS3: Snake Eater hit the internet first with a teaser image, and a clock counting down to E3 (seem familiar?) The image depicted a snake curled around what appeared to be a map of Russia, with the Caspian Sea visible at the bottom. A caption read: "Hungry for Some Snake?" In hindsight, this teaser image makes perfect sense - but who knew at the time that they meant "hungry for snake" quite so literally?





Yes, Metal Gear Solid 3's big E3 2003 unveil welcomed us to the jungle, with a new setting and new era to contend with. One tagline in the trailer, "Only the Snake is the true hero," may have been a apologetic dig at MGS2's Raiden, or a strong hint at who you would be playing as.

The trailer showcased the game's more organic environment, and displayed gameplay heavily focused on wilderness survival - yes, including snake eating. The pace of the trailer was slower and more deliberate, just like the slowed pace of the game (unless you ran through all the levels like a sissy). The music and art style showed a more light-hearted take on the franchise. Towards the middle, a witty and blatant GTA reference offered some comic relief, before the rousing MGS theme finally kicked in, along with some more intense jungle action.

For such a long trailer, there were practically no plot details or major characters revealed. It may seem obvious now that you play as Big Boss, but following the trailer's showing, Kojima kept mum on the main character's identity. Some even questioned whether the game was truly set in the 1960's, recalling Kojima's past trailer deceptions.

What this teaches us for the next Metal Gear: Sometimes the teaser image tells you literally what you are going to get. As dark as the teaser is, expect some laughs in the trailer (probably at Raiden's expense, let's face it). We may be left clueless as to what the game is actually about, even if the trailer is seven minutes long. And watch out: Snake isn't always Snake (and Big Boss may not always be Big Boss, for that matter.)



METAL GEAR SOLID 4



2005's E3 brought us a teaser trailer - a 5 minute teaser trailer - of Metal Gear Solid 4. Though it was produced for PS2 hardware, the trailer's visuals looked slick, particularly with the comedic expressions on Snake's face, as he battled Raiden for a role in the next game. Canned laughter set the tone of the trailer as light-hearted, though we could already see a few MGS4 details emerging. Though Raiden seems to have his eye on another main character role, Snake's reassuring smile at the end lets us know it's all cool again in the world of MGS, and he's back at the mantle. Raiden's re-emergence from the hole at the end of the trailer held true for the game, as he was present in MGS4 to play a significant role.

But once again, the young Snake we saw in the trailer was not the Old Snake we eventually got. However, the opening shot of multiple soldiers firing, unaware of Snake, was pretty much dead on for what we'd ultimately see in the game. And often there was indeed no place to hide, as the trailer claimed.

The game was revealed, proper, at TGS 2005:



Immediately the brown, wartime setting of the trailer created the feeling that Kojima had "gone Western", a feeling that was not helped by the FPS presentation. But an Old Snake then arrived to shatter those concerns.

We now know what gave Snake his aged appearance, but back when the trailer was shown, this raised more questions about what time period the game was set in - and "X years since Big Shell" didn't help with any clues. Adding to the futuristic feel, the world felt post-apocalyptic, engulfed in war. This wasn't the lonely environment of the past Metal Gears - Snake now appeared to be sneaking in very public, open, territory, and no longer seemed to be in his prime.

This was one of the more depressing reveals for an MGS, showing the doom-and-gloom direction the series was heading in. Otacon's arrival relieved some of the isolation and tension, but his youthful appearance raised further questions about Snake's aged look. As Snake runs out into the battlefield, a broken-down, coughing old man, one wonders how he's going to survive out there on his own, especially with those intimidating mechas stalking the streets.

Later trailers would show Snake sticking a gun in his mouth and, presumably, killing himself. Players will instantly recognise the obvious discrepancy with the actual game, but another difference is that in the trailer, this scene takes place in the Middle East, while in the game it takes place in another location entirely. An effect of this, for the large part of the game's early promotion, was that it appeared the game began and ended in the Middle East, not revealing the true globe-hopping nature of the story.

What this teaches us for the next Metal Gear: Kojima said he wants to appeal more to Western gamers, but don't bank on that happening. Characters' ages can be deceiving. The game may be more expansive than it first seems. Raiden never dies.



Let's not forget Metal Gear Solid Touch, for the iPhone, for its enticing teaser image. Bet y'all thought this was for a 360 game, right?! Back when this teaser was released, nobody would have blamed you for thinking that. It seemed like a very blatant 360 reference, if ever there was one.

What this teaches us for the next Metal Gear: The P, S, 3, 6, and 0 characters in the new teaser site could mean anything, even when you think the meaning is obvious.





Associated screenshots.

User Comments:

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peej - on 29/05/2009 at 22:02 wrote:
 
Probably one of the best retrospectives of the MGS series I've ever read and certainly one of the best things I've read on AATG full stop. Doffing my cap to you Mr York sir!
 

Hughes. - on 30/05/2009 at 00:20 wrote:
 
I watched all the vidjas! I still love the MGS4 teaser in Substinence, where Snake is dressed as Sam Fisher.

Kojima is a sneaky bugger with this stuff. I think it has to be a Raiden based MGS game, but as people have said the hat badge of (looks like) Big Boss is an SAS link, 2 characters had an SAS connection in MGS. Major Zero, and Liquid Snake.

I'd really like to see a game about how Liquid turned bad, in the same way we saw how Big Boss turned against the Government in 3 and Portable ops.
 

NewYork - on 30/05/2009 at 00:46 wrote:
 
Hmm, I can't say Liquid is too high on many people's "would like to play as" list, but that's an interesting angle.

I'm thinking (and now it's written here for proof that I called it) that those characters in the teaser are Raiden and Big Boss. It's just that there's two games. I reckon 360 gets one, PS3 gets the other. Why? 'Cos the resulting fanboy war would be the greatest marketing ever.
 


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