Hideo Kojima: Games, Film, And Disparate Elements

Over the years Hideo Kojima’s love of film has translated well into his masterpiece Metal Gear franchise. However, this fusion of pastimes has become more prominent in recent works and it’s worrying for future titles. Can the legend distinguish between mediums?

Evidence points to no.

MGS4 is without a doubt one of the best games of all time, even with it pushing the boundaries of how long anyone is willing to sit through cutscenes and expositional dialogue. Kojima literally combines gameplay and cutscene together for one of the greatest sendoffs of video game history. As amazing as Guns of the Patriots was it marked a turning point in Hideo Kojima’s career that saw the old developer we know and love leave along with Solid Snake’s final farewell.

This is coming from someone who saw MGS5 as a major disappointment and the first hinting that Kojima might be underutilizing the video game medium to its fullest in favor of a more cinematic movie style that crops up where it shouldn’t.

Gameplay and design always contributed to maximizing the larger narrative and Phantom Pain lost this with questionable mechanics that lazily mimicked modern trends thus losing that old Kojima flair fans love. The walking cutscene, QTE’s, a crafting system, and an open world for a stealth game were among the most questionable. What we did get that was distinctly Kojima was the inclusion of credits at the beginning of levels. This nod to the cinema came with its share of problems. Firstly, although Hideo Kojima has a record of famous meta-antics these credits contribute nothing but serving to break immersion. Secondly, they have the negative effect of spoiling what the player is about to play, revealing surprise developments for the sake of a novelty that wears out fast.

The Phantom Pain’s already incomplete and minimal story fell even shorter with the loss of veteran voice actor David Hayter in place of Hollywood actor Kiefer Sutherland. Unlike MGS2 which purposely misplaced our one and only Solid Snake, blowing things out of the water with maybe the craziest final act ever, Hayter’s removal was not only capricious but also greatly detrimental to a script that needed him most. Speculation offers a few reasons for Hayter’s absence but most suggest it was all in order to satisfy Kojima’s longing for the silver screen. Regardless, the damage was done and instead of experienced and deeply nuanced David Hayter fans were treated to the wooden Sutherland in what was perhaps Big Boss’s most crucial role.

Now with Death Stranding we’ve been given big Hollywood names Del Toro, Reedus, Mikkelsen, and more are rumored to follow suit.

Kojima's Love of FilmAnd I can’t think of anything I care less about.

Gameplay should be first and foremost in a developer’s mind, misuse of the essentials leads to people dismissing your game regardless of story quality. If there is a greater point to using notable actors in the game then I am more than prepared to eat my words but as it stands I’m left questioning if the inclusion of such faces is supposed to make me hyped. I understand attaching big names to movies, but this is video games we’re talking about, and I currently see a disturbing lack of anything that suggests so. Actors aren’t the new status quo for game quality and longevity, gameplay is and always will be.

Death Stranding trailers showcase vague and cryptic happenings in Hideo Kojima’s new project, and I can’t wait to see what the hell it’s all about. Recent missteps aside the man is still a celebrity developer and for good reason. Gameplay is sorely missed from these trailers but this style of showcase is brilliant for marketing purposes and has unfortunately become the industry standard so Kojima-san gets a free pass.

Only time will tell and as a long-time fan, I hope my worries are unwarranted.

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