Was Metal Gear Survive Doomed to Fail?

The breakup between publisher Konami and game Metal Gear creator Hideo Kojima is perhaps the ugliest that the video game industry will ever see.

It’s not that Kojima and Konami decided to part ways. Granted, the two had helped make each other great for decades, but it certainly wouldn’t be the first time that a creator and a company just couldn’t work together any longer. No, what made this particular split so nasty is the way that Konami went about it. They essentially decided that they no longer wished to acknowledge Kojima’s existence. His name was removed from the box art and promotional materials for Metal Gear Solid V. Konami refused to let him accept awards for the game. They even removed the horror game he had created with Guillermo Del Toro – P.T. – from the PlayStation Store and canceled the Silent Hill sequel the two had planned to work on.

In lieu of a satisfying explanation as to why Konami went to such lengths, people pieced together their own narrative. It seemed that Konami had decided to drastically change their corporate structure, and their new vision of the future left no room for an eccentric and sometimes demanding creator like Hideo Kojima. That story – whether entirely accurate or not – gave us a clear hero and a clear villain. Fans of the Metal Gear series and Kojima swore they would never give Konami another dime.

Naturally, then, Konami decided to release another Metal Gear game without Kojima.

Metal Gear Survive isn’t quite like the Metal Gear games that came before. It’s actually more of a spin-off of that series than a sequel or reboot. Under different circumstances, Survive‘s combination of Metal Gear gameplay, enhanced survival elements, horror, and base defense might actually have made for a well-received DLC release or Kojima-approved add-on. Actually, it should be said now that the game itself is quite good. Yes, it’s got some serious design issues, can be annoying to play, and probably costs too much – $40 – for the number of microtransactions in the game, but you can see that Survive is based on a pretty good idea for a video game.

Even if Survive had been a more polished experience, though, it’s highly doubtful that it ever would have had a chance to succeed.

Survive was never going to be accepted. Not really. It could have been a truly great experience that advances the Metal Gear series in exciting new directions, and it still would have been impossible to talk about it without mentioning the fallout from the Kojima situation. The fact of the matter is that Metal Gear‘s brilliance and flaws have always been the result of Kojima’s bizarre creative mind. Those that loved the series – for that matter, many of those who purchased it – did so because it was an extension of Kojima’s brand of brilliance. Any game that bore a close resemblance to what came before would have been seen as a cash-in. Anything that tried to drastically change the series would have been an insult.

That’s a bit of a shame, actually. For as flawed as Survive is – it really does have some serious problems – it’s not a downright awful game. In fact, there’s a lot of pleasure to be found in repetitious gameplay that allows you to appreciate the progress you’ve made. Free of the Metal Gear name, it might be viewed as a hidden gem or – at the worst – a more than worthwhile rental.

As it stands, it’s impossible to even praise the game without feeling as if you need to explain yourself.

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Matthew Byrd

Matthew Byrd

Matthew Byrd covers the gaming industry including indies, consoles, PCs, iOS and Android apps, as well as topics related to entertainment and technology. He also writes for IndieGameSource and DenOfGeek, and has his own blog at PixelCritique.com.

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