Probably the most significant thing to come out of the 2013 Tokyo Game Show from my perspective was the live gameplay of Metal Gear Solid V which has been fairly controversial based on reactions I’ve been reading. Whatever you may think of it, this looks like the most fundamental change to the series’ mechanics ever.

Hideo Kojima confirmed from the beginning that MGSV is going to be an open world game, and at the very least the two TGS demos show off an area that is essentially a stealth sandbox, which has probably made me more excited for the game than ever. Being able to plan and execute an entire stealth mission from beginning to end with no restrictions in an environment where virtually anything is possible is something that’s rarely been attempted, let alone accomplished, especially recently. Games like Far Cry or Crysis have sort of done things like this, but I don’t think anyone has really accomplished it in a GTA-sized open world if that is indeed what Kojima is going for. The most telling feature of this is the helicopter, which it seems can be ordered around by the player to choose their own exfiltration point which carries its own risks.

I’ll also go ahead and say the demo has probably the most realistic lighting I’ve ever seen in a console game. The only lighting I’ve seen that compares has probably been from PC games loaded up with mods. Otherwise MGSV looks like a current generation game but I still think the FOX engine looks impressive.

I don’t really agree though with people saying MGSV looks like a western shooting game. The shootout at the end of the second demo only really showed that action is now an option, where in previous Metal Gear games it was an afterthought in terms of controls. A stealth game, especially a sandbox stealth game, is supposed to have options like that. And the overall controls really just seem like an evolution of Peace Walker rather than a conversion to being a third person shooter.

The only new features I take issue with here are regenerating health and the slow motion that initiates when Snake is spotted. Metal Gear Solid 3 had an interesting regeneration system stemming from its survival aspect, but what I don’t really like in MGSV is how they’ve chucked the life bar for the screen distortion that basically every action game uses now. It feels unimaginative to me. The slow-mo at least might be understandable — something to accommodate random events that tend to happen in open-ended stealth games that result in you getting seen by no fault of your own. On the other hand, in my experience that kind of stuff can usually be avoided by being more careful. Depending on the context, something like this could really just be a crutch for players who don’t want to grow the patience and caution usually required for stealth games.

Really though, the TGS presentation actually shows us quite little of MGSV. What I wanna know about is the actual open-world traversal of the game. Did the E3 trailer actually show off a single fully traversable world? Does that world contain various places to be freely infiltrated? Can a Japanese developer, for the first time (that I know of), actually pull off a free-roaming sandbox?


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