Tokyo Espionage Action: Metal Gear Solid V Preview

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Mission complete, New Game Plus managed to infiltrate Konami HQ a day before Tokyo Game Show 2013 with sufficient intel.

Well, until I got caught 5 minutes into the operation. Instead of hanging my head in defeat, I was happily escorted by Konami staff to see the latest Ground Zeroes portion that makes up half of the Metal Gear Solid V package.

With director Hideo Kojima taking driver’s seat to explain and narrate key components of the game, I was greeted to a special side ops mission created specifically to celebrate the creation of Kojima Productions’ L.A. based studio (who will be heavily involved in the accompanying Metal Gear Online). Snake was tasked with retrieving a specific emblem scattered with others throughout an enemy outpost. Arriving from the cliffside, Snake’s only source of information is to acquire intelligence onsite. With this, the style of play is ambiguous and very touch and go, as Snake edges closer to the compound, finds a lone soldier and interrogates him at knifepoint. Before Snake plunges his blade into the guard’s throat, he informs him of gossip that pertains to the case of the missing emblem. It isn’t long until Snake opts for the rooftops and a better vantage point so he hits straight for the ladders and ledge jumping, sporting some surprisingly fluid movement and animation.

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After locating the sought-after item in the back of a truck, Snake jumps back to ground level and is spotted by a guard. With the recurring “!” sound effect kicking in, time slows to a crawl, as Snake has enough time to assess the situation and fire a silenced round into the guard’s head before he can sound any alarms. After disposing the body away from enemy eyesight, Snake makes a bee-line for the truck and finally obtains the emblem, but it’s not over yet! Snake takes a ride in the back of the truck as a guard drives around unbeknownst to his existence and jumps out after a while to call an extraction helicopter with his iDroid device (the interface for map, objectives, loadout and other features). During the process, he is discovered by an enemy yet again, but this time with a friend! Failing to dispatch both within seconds, Snake makes a run to the extraction point and engages in heated firefights between grunts, marksmen and anti-heli soldiers wielding RPGs thus preventing the safe landing of his extraction vehicle. After constantly moving and taking down enough heavy hitters, Snake was lucky enough to get away in time before the next wave of outpost guards came pouring out.

Shortly after this espionage and action-packed presentation, I was given the opportunity to sit down with Kojima and ask a few questions concerning portions of both Ground Zeroes and The Phantom Pain, which make up the entirety of Metal Gear Solid V

NGP: Where does Ground Zeroes stand as part of the Metal Gear Solid V experience?

Kojima: My aim of Metal Gear Solid V is to provide players with a different take on stealth games that fans of previous titles might not be accustomed to. When players are placed into the world of The Phantom Pain, they might feel a little lost, so Ground Zeroes acts like a tutorial to ease them into the new style of gameplay that The Phantom Pain will entail. Ground Zeroes will enable players to enjoy the expansive, open world nature on a temporary smaller scale, similar to previous entries in the Metal Gear franchise.

In terms of story, Ground Zeroes takes place one year after the events of Peace Walker, and as the tutorial handle suggests, serves as a prologue 9 years before the events of The Phantom Pain. Environmental effects will be static in Ground Zeroes, but in The Phantom Pain, you’ll notice that weather effects and time of day will alter dynamically. In time, players will learn to plan when and where their sneaking missions will take place depending on the dynamic weather and day/night cycle.

NGP: How does the mission structure fare in Metal Gear Solid V, and will it differ from other open world titles?

Kojima: In addition to the main missions, there will also be many side quests and challenges that you can undertake which are self-contained, much like episodes of a TV show. This also means that they do not adhere to the timeline of the main missions, so most of them can be completed regardless of how much narrative progress you have made in the game.

Some are for fun, some are downright silly or enough to challenge the most seasoned veterans. If the player is good enough to complete them, they are rewarded with facilities, resources and plenty more for their home base. So there are incentives in these missions, they’re just not as intrusive to the overall story.

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NGP: With the new slow motion feature that activates when Snake is spotted, will there be a limited number of times it can be used to avoid total dependence on the mechanic?

Kojima: The slow motion feature only kicks in when Snake is in stealth mode and has not yet been discovered for the first time, it gives you one more chance to correct the situation. Once you have been spotted and that opportunity is missed, it is no longer triggered and Snake will experience some difficulty surrounded within an enemy base, so strategy and constant movement away from the player’s last-known area will have to be heavily considered when this occurs.

NGP: Are there any limits to this new breed of open-world stealth gameplay? How far does the rabbit hole go?

Kojima: One of the advantages of basing The Phantom Pain in an open-world setting involves the large amount of freedom when undertaking missions. When initially briefed, you are only given basic objectives, so ultimately it is up to the player on how they will be carried out. Factors like getting to the enemy site by car or helicopter, weapon loadout, lethal or non-lethal methods used depends entirely on the individual’s play style. Some missions may include time limits, which extend even after the objective’s completion. If you take too long or are reckless leaving the enemy site, you may risk failing the mission. As a result, you not only have to worry about getting in, but extracting yourself effectively regardless of how trigger happy or stealthy you are.

I’m fairly certain that I speak for all of us at New Game Plus when I say that Metal Gear Solid V is looking incredible on many fronts and cannot wait to get our hands on it! Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain is currently without a release date and will be releasing on the Playstation 3, Xbox 360, Playstation 4 and Xbox One consoles.