The Road from Konami to Sony’s Arms (Part 4) – Hideo Kojima and the Two Thousand Years.
There’s a sad chronicle of the breakup of the father of the Konami and Metal Gear series, but there’s plenty more interesting here.
Previous parts of the article series:
– The Road from Konami to Sony’s Arms (Part 1) – Hideo Kojima and the Eighties
– The Road from Konami to Sony’s Arms (Part 2) – Hideo Kojima and the Nineties
– The Road from Konami to Sony’s Arms (Part 3) – Hideo Kojima and the 2000s
The first decade of the new millennium has been an amazing success, with strange sidings and a very difficult development for Hideo Kojima. While the Metal Gear Solid series reached fantastic heights with the third episode, the fourth episode, apparently premature, was a disappointment to many. Even though the designer had been on Konami’s board for years, he couldn’t stop the game from being released too soon – but at least it gave him complete freedom to work with his self-titled studio, Kojima Productions.
War and peace
The following years were spent with Metal Gear Solid accordingly, with new parts, side threads and reissues coming in series. In addition to the HD collection and Snake Eater 3D released for the 3DS, Peace Walker, released in 2010, is the most important game of this era. At first, it was made under the name Metal Gear Solid 5, and Kojima still sees it as a full-fledged, mainstream episode – and if we just look at the story, it’s not much to argue with.
The designer took the big oath again during the development of Metal Gear Solid 4: although the series continues, he will no longer be directly involved as a director. Accordingly, after the funds were laid, he left Peace Walker in the hands of young developers, who, however, did not really cope with the task, at least not in the way Kojima had imagined, so the boss was forced into the work, taking over this project alongside MGS4 . And while most handheld console side threads have always been a kind of Category B job, Peace Walker has the same team working as the PS3 act.
Peace Walker is about the Big Boss we followed in the Snake Eater episode, who is trying to build his own mercenary army here in the rebel-filled countries of Central America. Relative peace is being distracted by a new CIA-funded private army experimenting with steppers in Costa Rica that also use nuclear weapons, and of course, in the absence of any other option, we need to put things right here. The game, released for the PSP, offers the well-known MGS gameplay with changes to match the handheld console’s existence: among the negatives, we can mention a bite of missions, most of which can be fought smoothly in 10-15 minutes. The development, the building of the base, the possibility of cooperative play, on the other hand, are all huge advances, so the game is still especially fun today.
At the beginning of the decade, another Metal Gear episode came out: 2013 Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance. However, the history of this goes back a long way: development began around 2007, and although that version of Rising was announced on an E3, the project was shut down not long after. The problem this time was technical: Kojima Productions, which specializes in slow, stealth-shooting gameplay, simply couldn’t create a melee system at a pace that would have been worthy of the chosen protagonist, cyber-ninja Raiden. Fortunately, the project didn’t go awry: Kojima eventually hired the routine team from PlatinumGames for the task. The Revengeance they completed eventually had an almost perfect combat system, and a shockingly insane story about how nanocomputers work.
Sayonara, Metal Gear
Accordingly, Rising has become a kind of side project for Kojima, who has since been appointed vice president of Konami – and has spent his time creating a whole new game engine and Metal Gear Solid, which has moved into the open world. Surprising to many, the Big Boss, dubbed by Kiefer Sutherland, this time, instead of narrow zones, tiny playgrounds, was given one (or two) huge areas where really everything was left to him, and of course the player. While this game is not good for many games, Kojima has coped well with this problem and has endowed the game with a whole host of amazing solutions.
The player was given an almost endless tool (most of them through the development of a central base) to deal with the situations before him, and the game tried to react to everything in the most realistic way possible. If we cover everyone with headshots, it’s not enough that every soldier will soon get a bulletproof helmet, but we can listen to a whole mass of dialogues about it. If we put someone to sleep and fall face down into a puddle, they will drown. If we record the sound of a bear with our dictaphone, we can scare the patrolling soldiers by playing it. Unfortunately, however, the impressive gameplay wasn’t associated with a finished game this time either. Of the programs originally divided into three major chapters, only two have been released, and half of the second episode consists of recycled quests – and perhaps more painfully, the pre-release story doesn’t give a reassuring conclusion to everything.
Most of you may know that the relationship between Kojima and Konami went into a definite trouble during the development of this game; however, the reasons for this are not yet known to anyone other than those involved. The first big break was presumably that Konami, who was content with a long and expensive development, took the program in two parts, and the prologue was released as Ground Zeroes as a separate game, a kind of paid demo. It hit stores in the spring of 2014, and while it often provided a viable location in many ways, it screamed that it was originally intended to be the start of a new game.
The fact that something permanently went wrong between the company and the developer (more on: the company and their most acclaimed developer) exploded in March 2015, when Konami suddenly removed the designer’s name from all of the Phantom Pain websites still under development. Konami also renamed the studio, the series got a new Twitter channel, and of course Kojima’s name disappeared from Konami’s list of officials as well. The game was completed in the next six months, and its weathered content is obviously to blame.
Phantom Pain was finally released in September 2015, after which Konami virtually plowed Kojima Productions – the studio was closed down and a new team was set up to continue the series (its performance was the stunted Metal Gear Survive for now). And Kojima and his professionals started living the lives of indie developers. Of course, if it’s indie that your ultra-modern studio is partly funded by Sony – and you get a bank loan because the director of one of the institutes loves your games…
The end of an adventure
However, the breakup between Konami and Kojima not only cut off the chances of a quality continuation of the Metal Gear Solid series – at least for a long time – but also put it on the Silent Hill series. The designer was working hard on a new episode, with Mexican filmmaker Guillermo del Toro, and we were able to try out his double vision of a new generation of horror. PT, or playable teaser, was a hobbyist for the new game called Silent Hills, to assess whether the general public likes this radically new direction. I liked it – which is why it provoked a unanimous opposition when Konami made it inaccessible during the decoy removal process.
Hideo Kojima registered his new company in December 2015 and has been working on setting up the studio and making Death Stranding ever since, and now the game is now looking for new challenges, winking strongly at the horror genre that many Silent Hill fans could be happy to have if Konami let them down …