One of the topics that you are going to see on the upcoming Couch Co-op Podcast is regarding dead game franchises – specifically which ones we want to see make a comeback. I am unable to attend the recording of this episode thanks to some painful medical procedures, but knowing the topic in advance got me thinking.
When Keith (whose topic this is) first mentioned it, my kneejerk reaction was, as it always is in cases such as this, to respond SILENT HILL. Just like that. In all caps and everything.
Silent Hill was a massive part of my late teens/early twenties, the years when gaming well and truly took hold of my life and, so far anyway, has refused to let go. I remember a college friend of mine regarding this strange sounding Japanese horror game called Silent Hill in extremely high esteem. Intrigued, I picked up the original on Playstation fairly quickly afterwards.
It didn’t click and I thought little more about it, figuring that there was no accounting for taste.
It wasn’t until I purchased the Silent Hill 2 director’s cut on a whim that the series truly grabbed me. Some combination of the intense psychological horror, mature themes, adult storytelling and its deeply flawed characters left such an impression on me that I still regard it as one of the greatest games ever made.
I quickly made my way through the original Silent Hill, this time thoroughly engaged where before I was left cold. I played Silent Hill 3 on a borrowed Playstation 2 in a single, overnight sitting (not by choice, the PS2 I borrowed had a full memory card).
I constantly defend Silent Hill: The Room as one-half of a fantastic entry in the series before being let down by its combat heavy, repetitive latter portion. I even liked Downpour (though nothing will ever convince me that Homecoming is anything other than awful).
Basically, what I am trying to say is I am probably one of Silent Hill’s biggest fans. I was ecstatic to learn that Hideo Kojima and Guillermo del Toro were on board to make the next Silent Hill game, and was crushed when the Kojima vs Konami shitstorm killed the project stone dead.
So when someone asks what great game franchise I want to see revived, I say Silent Hill without even really thinking about it.
Only I’ve spent the last couple of days actually thinking about it. More precisely, I’ve spent the last couple of days thinking about Metal Gear Survive.
While I’m a Silent Hill megafan, I can’t say that I’m much of a Metal Gear fan. Before last years’ Phantom Pain I appreciated the series without ever really engaging with it. I had fooled around a little with Metal Gear Solid in the past, but Metal Gear Solid V was the first time I fully committed. I enjoyed it, although it didn’t convert me into a fanboy at all.
I bring this up because even with that kind of distance, I still look at the reveal trailer for Metal Gear Survive in utter shock and disbelief.
Its tone deafness astounds me. The Metal Gear franchise has always been known for two things – insane storytelling and stealth action gameplay. I can definitely see that Survive has the insane storytelling side of the coin down to pat, but rather than the typical brand of Kojima-style craziness that Patrick revels in messing my head with, we’ve got what seems to be the ultimate betrayal of what Metal Gear actually is.
I mean, a wormhole opens above Mother Base, swallows up a bunch of guys into an alternate dimension where they have to fight zombie Human/Unicorn hybrids. Narrative driven stealth action has been exchanged for a co-op zombie survival game, the likes of which we see released on Steam every day.
Now, I’m the last person to call a game good or bad before I’ve seen gameplay or played it for myself. There’s every chance Metal Gear Survive will be a good game. But it’s a far cry from being an actual Metal Gear game. I get why it exists – Konami realised that they can make money from AAA game development, Metal Gear is their biggest IP and they have a bunch of assets lying around that they can re-use. Using the Metal Gear name guarantees sales. From a business perspective, it makes sense.
I’ll be as even-handed about the game right up until it releases and I can play it for myself. But what I’ve seen of the game so far, coupled with the fact that it will have a really short development period, has me worried.
And that’s before I even remember that this is Konami. The company that ousted Metal Gear creator Kojima in a brutal, bloody and extremely public manner, refusing to allow him to travel to Las Vegas to accept an award for the work he put into Metal Gear Solid V (some of which he did after they turned on him with such brutality).
This is the publisher that allegedly treats its employees with an absolute lack of respect and common decency.
This is a publisher that has a history of ruining great game franchises. They did the same thing to Castlevania creator Koji Igarashi that they did to Kojima. Once they ousted him, they passed off the franchise to a Western developer with disastrous consequences.
They replaced the original developers of Silent Hill with two different Western studios, Double Helix (Homecoming) and Vatra (Downpour). One was an awful game and both were far, far removed from the franchise they were both purporting to be a part of.
Hell, this is a company that outright said that it was going to pursue mobile gaming and pull away from AAA game production. They are now trying to convince people that they didn’t say this after figuring out that Metal Gear Solid V made them quite a bit of money.
This brings me back to Silent Hill and the question of dead franchises I want to see resurrected. Knowing that Konami would be at the head of any new Silent Hill game, considering their recent history in regards to their treatment of their own IP and their developers and owing to the fact that I trust them as far as I could throw their corporate headquarters…
I’d rather not. Thanks.