Whether you like Hideo Kojima and his work or not, you have to agree that the man has vision. An industry veteran, Kojima wrote, directed and designed his first game back in 1987. The game was Metal Gear, an overhead action adventure that is widely credited as being the antecedent of the stealth game as we know it. The series has evolved with the industry itself, punctuating the gaming timeline with games that always seem to take full advantage of the hardware available, making the most of the huge budgets granted by publisher Konami.
“We’ve seen a phenomenon around the world,” says Kojima as we sit down with him, fresh from our play-through of Ground Zeroes. “Young people are losing interest in high-end games and focusing on mobile and social titles, especially in Japan. I wanted to show people that Japanese high-end games are still worth playing and that big Japanese games still have a future”. It’s an admirable vision, and one that we think informs the game’s curious pace – the main thing that caught us off-guard about Ground Zeroes was its length.
Think of Ground Zeroes as the Tanker mission from Metal Gear Solid 2 – it’s an elaborate preamble, a tutorial-cum-prologue that teaches you exactly how this new, open world Metal Gear Solid works. If Kojima was concerned about waning concentration spans of gamers, it shows – this is a game that suits the mobile generation; if you want to complete the main story in 90 minutes, you can. Before we played the game through, we were cynical – we thought that Konami was just keen to extract as much cash from its audience as possible, but Kojima assured us the game’s partitioning was done with no one but the end-user in mind.
“I’ll be honest, [splitting MGSV up] wasn’t necessarily a strategic move. The Phantom Pain is roughly 200 times bigger than Ground Zeroes. A game that big wouldn’t be ready for next-gen launch windows, and we didn’t have any Japanese titles that would be available. At that time, the Ground Zeroes portion was almost complete and a lot of fans were asking for a prologue, so that’s the decision we came to. That was the reasoning behind the move.”
The full interview with Kojima can be found in issue 145 of games™, on sale now.