Metal Gear franchise struggles to 'survive' without Hideo Kojima


Konami’s Metal Gear Survive has bombed both critically and commercially. Earlier today, Gamers Classified wrote about the controversial departure of series creator Hideo Kojima from Konami. The first game since Kojima’s departure highlights the instrumental role his creative influence played. Fans of the series have universally criticised the game since its reveal in August 2016. Released last week, critics not only panned it for being a bad Metal Gear game, but an objectively bad game. Is this the beginning of the end for Metal Gear, or is there hope without Kojima?

A bad game

Metal Gear Survive received poor reviews at launch. However, many of the criticisms aren’t just with the game, but rather the seemingly greedy systems that Konami shoehorned in. The game sits at a score of 64 on Metacritic, making it the worst scoring game in the franchise. At the heart of critics’ complaints is a lack of anything special. The game is dull, repetitive and doesn’t give players any reason to keep playing. As a follow up to the well received Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain, expectations were high. However, the game has hopelessly failed to live up to these expectations. The new area, known as the Dust, is just the Afghanistan map from MGSV with weather effects. Using the new Fox Engine, Survive emphasises melee combat, which comes across as awkward in the third person shooter designed engine. Another criticism was the lack of enemy types. The standard “Wanderer” enemy, which is just a zombie, pollutes the game, while the variations on the other 5 special zombies are too slight to dramatically shake-up the gameplay. Much of the base building aspects of Survive boil down to tedious loot grinding. Outside of the game, Konami was also slammed for having an always online DRM and shady microtransactions, such as a $10 price tag to have a 2nd character slot.

Metal Gear Survive melee gameplay
Hordes of zombies and melee weapons seem out of place in the Metal Gear world

A bad Metal Gear game

While the critics score is 64 on Metacritic, the user score is an abysmal 1.6. For every criticism the game has received from critics, it has received more from fans. The Metal Gear franchise has fundamentally defined itself as a story driven, stealth-action, single-player series. Metal Gear Survive is a co-op, survival game that focuses on base building and horde style action. While such a drastic departure from the series’ roots was certainly bold, fans hated it. The story of parallel universes and zombies is absurd, even by Metal Gear standards. Challenge in the series is derived from not being detected and avoiding combat at all costs. Survive, on the other hand, has little consequences for detection. Konami reduced the combat to building fences so the players can stab immobile zombies from behind it. There just isn’t anything about the game that justifies being a “Metal Gear” game. CG Magazine best summed it up when they wrote “Metal Gear Survive is neither a good Metal Gear Solid game nor a good survival game. It feels more like a cynical cash grab”.

Metal Gear Solid series
The Metal Gear Solid series is one of the most critically acclaimed series in gaming

The importance of Kojima

While this isn’t Konami’s first Metal Gear spin off, it is the first that didn’t involve Hideo Kojima. The role of the series creator has never been more apparent. The main series of games were all considered groundbreaking in their own right. Although each has had its share of criticism, Snake and the Metal Gear universe are beloved. Even spin off games like Ghost Babel and Rising: Revengence, which Kojima didn’t direct, embraced his creative influence. As a Metal Gear game that doesn’t feature stealth, Snake or a Metal Gear, Survive seems directionless. The poor sales highlight the impact of such a sudden departure from the series’ roots. Eurogamer observes that Survive bombed in its opening week, only reaching 6th in sales charts, under games released months ago. More importantly, it has bombed compared to other spin offs, selling 85% less than Rising in its launch week. Metal Gear Survive is best compared to Snake’s Revenge, a Western only released sequel to the original Metal Gear that did so poorly without Kojima’s direction that it was subsequently deemed non-Canon in Metal Gear 2.

Hideo Kojima
Series creator, Hideo Kojima

The Metal Gear series is Hideo Kojima. Metal Gear Survive highlights that the spirit of the franchise left Konami the same day as Kojima. While it seems the series will live on, it won’t be the series fans loved. Kojima’s next project, Death Stranding, has the strange and bizarre creative tone that he’s known for. Kojima is yet to announce a release date but his partnership with actors Norman Reedus and Mads Mikkelsen makes Death Stranding and Kojima Productions something to keep an eye on.

A young bloke living in Sydney who loves to play some games from time to time. Currently studying Media and Communications at Sydney Uni and working as a bartender, I like to play games in my spare time to wind down from a hard day. I play both Xbox and Playstation with some PC gaming occasionally thrown in the mix. Beyond games I'm really into Aussie Rock music, playing guitar and watching footy.