Almost two weeks ago (on August 30th), Hideo Kojima and his team, Kojima Productions, shook the world and shocked the crowd with a fourteen minute teaser trailer/gameplay demo hybrid (take note of the latter) at the series’ 25th anniversary event in Tokyo, Japan, initially slated as a simple tech demo showing off the technical capabilities of the developer’s brand new Fox Engine. Only it wasn’t just the engine that left people slack-jawed with amazement.
Running on a high-end PC, with assurances that the demo was current gen-ready, not only would absolutely no-one be able to predict the scope and scale of the engine’s insane amount of pushing power and visual delight, but of exactly what they were using to show it all off: Metal Gear Solid: Ground Zeroes, Kojima Productions’ new game and new chapter in Snake’s story.
(But, hey, that was his plan all along, right?)
The sneaky so-and-so!
Naturally, within seconds of hitting the internet, rumours were absolutely abound – some plausible, others just plain stupid – from speculation over who the protagonist is, all the way up to mutant noodle pterodactyl fridge magnets being the reason why Snake has a beard. (Okay, that last one is made up, but it’s comparable to some of the rumours.)
These are, however, little to nothing to go on, going by the internet community’s track record of bending the truth like a chicken’s spine, and so I have taken matters into my own hands to craft for you the most comprehensive Metal Gear Solid: Ground Zeroes trailer breakdown feature on the internet.
(Hey, I can dream, can’t I?)
Using this trailer as a point of reference, clicking on the time stamps in each image’s caption will take you to that exact part of the trailer. Please click images to enlarge.
First image – the person entering from the right – here’s our villain. Take note of (what little there is of) him as he appears here.
Second image – Camp Omega, a maximum security prisoner camp with no legal jurisdictions, on Cuban soil under American control. It brings Mother Base, the offshore plant and home of the Militaires Sans Frontières featured in Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker, to mind, only the complete opposite philosophy-wise.
Dogs. (Most likely) Rhodesian Ridgebacks, a breed of South African dog known for its bravery, protectiveness and ferocity when put in the right situation. Nothing special, nor are they a subtle nod to the scene’s location, but an interesting choice in guard dog nonetheless. (Plus, my dog is half Ridgeback, so that’s damn cool!) Also, take note of the gun in the holster of the man in centre frame. This guy means business.
Prisoners, centre frame. Torture technique, the soon-to-be executed, or Peace Walker P.O.W. reference? I think we’ll go with all three…
See the sign? It reads, “Se hara uso fuerza letal sobre intrusos en caso de ser necesario,” which roughly translates, according to everyone’s favourite online language translator and not of my own abilities, “[We] will use deadly force on intruders if necessary.” Spanish. We’re in Cuba for sure.
Now, I’m no expert, but I’m pretty sure these guys are about to be executed for heck-knows-what. This place ain’t pretty.
Searchlights will play a key role in forcing players to stay stealthy to avoid detection, harking back to the original Metal Gear Solid in terms of hardcore stealth gameplay.
The Fox Engine is capable of producing astounding depth of field effects. The weapon appears to be a MAC-10 with a much larger overhung bolt (the wiry, ‘handle’-like thing) than that of the aforementioned.
Looking carefully at the middle of the soldier’s goggles, you should be able to make out the suited upper-half (but not face) of the shifty looking villain-like bloke at the beginning of the trailer. Another shot showing off the visual delights of the new engine.
They even have children locked up in this wretched place?! (Dude…) But just who is this down-in-the-dumps looking child? Is it a young Solid Snake? Liquid Snake? Solidus Snake? Could it be Raiden, who we all know was a cold-blooded child soldier during the Liberian Civil War in 1989? Maybe even Frank Jaeger, aka the cyborg ninja Gray Fox from the original Metal Gear Solid, before being experimented on?
Well, not exactly, but it is a person whom many of us will be familiar with: Chico, the child soldier from Peace Walker, and it can only be assumed from the words exchanged between the two (all from the villain bloke) that Chico has betrayed someone and is possibly acting as a double agent of some kind. It doesn’t help that all of the spoken dialogue is Japanese, but time will bring a newly dubbed trailer at some point.
All of this in exchange for his cassette player, eh? Speaking of which, cassette players first appeared in 1979, five years after the events of Peace Walker, so could 1979 be the date?
(NOTE: Hideo Kojima himself name-checked the boy as Chico, so it is 100% confirmed.)
…But just what in the heck is going on with that thing plugged into his chest?! This is the one thing that has all the ants at the rumour mill scratching their heads about, because there really is no logical explanation for it, other than it being some kind of hidden communication device much like the jigsaw blade that Big Boss had stitched into his chest in Peace Walker should he ever need to escape from prison. Or maybe he’s just monitoring his heartbeat… but how did it get there in the first place?! Who knows, but it’s definitely there for a reason, and it will be very interesting to find out what in the heck it is all about when the game comes out.
Regardless, Chico immediately unplugs the jack from his chest and into the cassette player that the bad guy hands over to him, picking “Here’s to You” (a song from 1971) as his song of choice, the same song that was used as the closer for Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots. (Connection?)
It might also be interesting to note, especially to those who assure that it isn’t Chico, that some very clever people on the internet deduced that the cassette player includes an ‘auto reverse’ function, something that wasn’t apparent on cassette players “until the mid-Eighties”; though, if this is the case, then that would make Chico at least twenty-three years old, which makes it next to impossible that he is the imprisoned child, who is sixteen or seventeen years of age at the most, though malnourishment during his childhood years did stunt his growth. Furthermore, the villain, after his meeting with the boy says, “Give my regards to your Boss.”
Big Boss? Some other boss who we’ve yet to be introduced to? Two minutes in and the confusion bug has already laid its eggs in our brains…
(Then again, it could just be a simple mistake taken too far.)
It is around this point that the villain is revealed to have severe facial disfigurements (most likely burns) – his unique character trait in the Metal Gear Solid universe, if you will.
Notice the rats at his feet? They don’t appear to be anywhere else in the prison, so maybe this is thematically suggestive of the legend of the Pied Piper of Hamelin, in that this person is their leader; the big boss man who everyone follows on a whim, no questions asked, much like Psycho Mantis with his mind control powers.
Paz, an antagonist who was seemingly killed in Peace Walker, is confirmed to be alive and will no doubt play a major role in the story.
Now, this is damn clever. Upon first glance – a naturally quick, no-time-to-think-about-it glance – this appears to be all well and good, but if the word ‘FOX’ (the military group FOX of which Snake is part of, and who this patch appears to denote the wearer, whoever that may be, as being part of) was looked at in a mirror, it wouldn’t simply have the ‘f’ the wrong way around – it would say ‘XOF’ with the last letter reversed. (Notice that the colours are also inverted compared to the real FOX logo.) Clever, clever stuff, Mr Director.
But then, what the heck is ‘XOF’? We’re getting there…
Whoever they are, they don’t want their cover blown, as seen here by the villain using some kind of UV device to remove the XOF marking on the chopper that he is about to board. Are they going to infiltrate Mother Base, who are, coincidentally, due a nuclear weapons inspection from the UN very close to this point in time?
(NOTE: In case you hadn’t already realised, XOF is the name of the military unit that the villain is the leader of, utilising FOX’s insignia with the letters reversed and colours inverted, suggesting that they’re some kind of anti-FOX unit.)
And here he is – the burned one himself in the flesh, all Argonian and Joker-like. It goes without saying that, because of little else but the burns, this guy is impossible to identify as anyone we’re already familiar with… then why the use of burns? Is he a past character who they’ve not yet chosen to reveal the identity of coming back with a vengeance, or is his appearance, in the same vein as the rats following him around, his unique trait, and he’s a completely new baddie?
Theories are being thrown here, there and absolutely bloody everywhere that he could be Peace Walker‘s Vladimir Zadornov. You remember him, right – the one who escaped detainment seven times and then ended up on the receiving end of a bullet because he just plain sucked? Yep, him; though this is based on his dress sense alone, so there is very little reason to believe this until more information comes through. The other, somewhat more plausible theory, is that the villain is former CIA director Hot Coldman, also of Peace Walker fame, in that the villain commands “This pirate crackdown’s a go,” where he previously once referred to the Militaires Sans Frontières as a “band of pirates.” This one is based on the use of language alone, but I know which one I’d rather go with. That, and he’s a baldy…
We also see the villain handing his XOF patch to one of his soldiers, in an attempt to rid all trace of XOF detection, who then throws them out of the chopper into the sea.
According to Hideo Kojima, the entire world will be fully open and accessible, with a possibility of Deus Ex: Human Revolution-like social interactions, laid out in a similar mission structure to Peace Walker, but I suspect without all of the micro management of the latter.
That’s the last we’ll be seeing of those soggy patches for a while.
He’s back, baby! OH YEAH! Bobbing into frame flaring the real FOX insignia backed by a thumping distorted guitar riff, Snake is back, and you can tell he means business. Why? Well, he’s climbing up the side of a slippery cliff in the rain with little more than his sneaking suit and climbing skills to keep him protected, of course.
But just which Snake is it?
There’s a clue (and a Splinter Cell reference)…
And the big reveal – it’s Naked Snake, better known as Big Boss!
Now, you might be thinking, “Hang on, he looks about sixty – he’s all grey and stuff – this can’t possibly be Big Boss!”, something that you wouldn’t be scolded for assuming because he really does appear to be old, but a recent announcement from Hideo Kojima asserts that the reason why he looks so aged is that – not in his own words – peoples’ perception is that he has grey hair, thus making him appear old, whereas, in reality, he doesn’t have grey hair at all, and it is actually the lighting behind Big Boss that makes his hair appear to be greying, as evidenced by this image tweeted by Kojima earlier today with all the fancy lighting removed.
(Still not convinced? Compare the above image to this.)
“Snake is back on ‘FOX'” – does this mean that he has rejoined the FOX unit for this mission, the unit he had previously left and was subsequently targeted by after the group went rogue? Is it a cover-up, much like the XOF unit trying to cover their own tracks? It’s all a bit mad on the surface.
Snake is also wearing a Militaires Sans Frontières patch on the other shoulder. Just what is he playing at?…
See the glowing ring-like halo in the bottom third of the first picture? This could just be an attention grabber, but it could also be hinting at a similar system to the ‘Co-op Ring’ from Peace Walker, a hoop surrounding players that, once intersected with a co-op partner, will allow weapon and equipment exchanges. We see the same halo earlier on in the trailer, when the camera zooms in on four identical soldiers inside the chopper, possibly indicating four-player co-op, though how this would work in Ground Zeroes, which we’re all assuming to be a single-player game, is anyone’s guess, if it is the ‘Co-op Ring’ at all.
A holographic map device – maybe a prototype – that will act as a replacement for the series’ trademark Soliton Radar System. It’s very Dead Space-esque, allowing for much more careful planning of the area before going in for a roam.
But just who is the speaker of the words on screen? Why, it’s none other than Kazuhira Miller, Snake’s old chum and right-hand man from Peace Walker, reprising his role as Snake’s main radio support and comms and intel guy during missions.
Kaz provides the mission details – rescue Chico and Paz – and then the cutscene, without skipping a beat, transitions into gameplay incredibly smoothly, sealing the deal on the Fox Engine’s capabilities, displaying gorgeous and realistic lighting effects and animation (the latter, of course, for moving video only); pixel-perfect levels of detail, and an almost immeasurable sense of scale and more for the eyes to drool over.
Best engine ever? I think so.
Search lights in the distance, players are thrown in right at the deep end stealth-wise, forced to make use of any environmental cover at their disposal, waiting for that split-second moment when all eyes aren’t on Snake before moving to the next point and repeating the process, all the while scoping out the rest of the area and memorising enemy behaviour patterns to make it through the place alive. We see Snake dashing from rock to rock as the searchlight pans away, eventually making it close enough to gain some bearing of the situation.
It’s stealth at its best, and when it comes to the genre, Metal Gear Solid always comes out on top.
(But, hey, it’s Snake – of course he’ll get out of this one. Right?…)
If what we’ve seen in the game’s trailer is anything to go by, this could be not only the best looking game in the series, but also the best game in the series, full-stop. Kojima and co., you’ve done it again!
Next year, everyone! Next year…