Metal Gear Solid 5 sneak preview at Kojima Productions LA grand opening

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It would settle in later during my trip to Kojima Productions brand new Los Angeles studio that today was a historic day. A day that, while it may have been just another trip for the jaded journalist, I feel that I was quite lucky to partake in. Let’s start at the beginning though, shall we?

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The main reason for this trip was to see a live demonstration of Metal Gear Solid 5. Though treading old ground with a previous trailer as the opening (“Here’s to you”), we were seeing the game running on a PC simulating current-gen hardware. There were some slight hiccups in the framerate during this cutscene, but those sorts of quirks are often ironed out at the end of development. On the other hand, the gameplay section seemed to run very smoothly.

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The effects in this game are such that they seem out of place in this generation. The grass swayed with the wind, with animation that didn’t seem predictable. Water could be seen dribbling down a helicopter and pattering off of the coats of soldiers. We again saw the fantastic simulation of the wind on the frantically whipping raincoats. Keeping with the rhythm of the rain, tents were seen subtly rippling in the background as Snake spied an enemy base from a rocky hilltop. Snake’s mission was to procure a red Foxhound emblem, the logo for Kojima Productions Los Angeles studio; presumably to avoid spoilers, as well as keeping the theme of introducing the newly established studio.

Probably being ahead of the curve in electronics considering that the story takes place in 1984, Snake has a useful digital map at his disposal. He can bring it up to see a satellite-like view of an area and create waypoints that appear in-game. Scoping out the enemy base with his binoculars, Snake was able to mark enemies. This enabled him to see enemies not only on the map, but in-game they lightly glowed every few seconds so that they could be seen through obstacles. Vehicles were able to be tagged as well. We watched as a jeep’s larger arrow moved around the digital map of the base.

Another addition to the gameplay revolved around the prevention of getting caught. Snake climbed onto a vacant roof, and after getting to the other side of it, he jumped down. Suddenly we heard the famous Metal Gear alert sound (!). Not being quite his cunning self, Snake had just jumped in front of a soldier, and the game slowed to a crawl. After being clearly seen by an enemy, the game slows down for a few seconds. During these precious seconds, Snake can eliminate the enemies who’ve seen him, thus halting an area-wide alert. Kojima’s reason for this addition is that the game, being an open world one, has enemies that can see you from multiple directions. It seems like a good addition to alleviate some frustration for those inevitable times when an enemy unexpectedly catches you, though it remains to be seen how keen on it the stealth purists will be.

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Metal Gear Solid 5, more than any other in the series, seems like it is very focused on player choice. If you want to hijack a jeep, you can do that. Snake can take out a soldier manning a search light and take over for him. Kojima demonstrated that shining the light on enemy soldiers causes them to lift their arms up to block the light from their eyes. They eventually tired of the light and slowly walked away. It’ll be interesting to see if repeated use of things like the search light will cause the AI to wise up to any delightfully prankful players.

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I can’t tell you exactly what was supposed to happen towards the end of our live demonstration because our player happened to cause an alarm to sound off. He frantically shot soldiers, but found himself repeatedly surrounded, a soldier nearly everywhere he turned. New to the series, Snake can sprint. He’s sprints really fast. For a game that’s been so focused on plodding stealth, and gameplay that often involves crawling slowly through the grass, this is a big change. Eventually he saw what would ultimately become his savior, an unoccupied jeep.

He drove the jeep as quickly as he could, though it unfortunately had taken some damage. After finally escaping, Snake called in a helicopter, manually specifying his pickup location. Some soldiers could be seen in the distance, slowly marching and searching for Snake. It was surprising that they had gone so far to seek Snake out.

This was the end of our demo. As a fan of the series, I can say that I was thoroughly pleased with what I saw. It’s a game that appears to fuse the known with a few twists, some elements that weren’t previously possible. Metal Gear Solid 5 might not be out for quite a long while, but I’m already excited to see the entirety of the next in one of gaming’s most boundary-pushing series.

Stay tuned for more from our tour of Kojima Productions Los Angeles studio!

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Ryan Southard
Ryan Southard 776 posts

Ryan Southard is a video game enthusiast, dissecting games down to their tiniest details. Whether it's new or it's old, as long as it's awesome, he'll play it. Follow him on Twitter at @Ryan_Southard <a href="http://nerdreactor.com/about/">Meet the Nerd Reactor Team</a>

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