Hideo Kojima, creator of the famous franchise Metal Gear Solid, has long been known as the undisputed master of cinematic gaming. Since the first installment on the original Playstation the series has thrived off the tried and true formula of stealth gameplay, engaging story, and masterfully directed cut scenes. Cut scenes so well done, they look straight out of a movie.
With all the story packed into a single game one can spend a considerable time playing, watching and listening and still not be able to capture every bit of information packed into the story of his games. We are talking hours of two way (Codec) conversations, alternate cut scenes triggered by game events, and hour grinding boss battles (The End in MGS: 3). In fact it's truly incredible how Kojima and his team manage to intricately weave so much content and information into a story. With stories that are chocked full of supernatural super villains, international espionage, and rife with government conspiracy, it doesn't take long to immerse yourself in a world where every answer seems to ask another question. Take that combined with the excellent voice acting talents of David Hayter and Phil Lamarr and you have a masterpiece series that has long been held as a pinnacle of gaming.
So what's the problem? Surely a man capable of creating video games that are like movies would have no trouble creating a movie that's like a video game. It's true that Kojima has a history with film. In addition to numerous references in his games to science fiction classics such as Blade Runner, Akira, Escape From New York (and many, many more) Kojima left early intentions as a film director as he felt there was more of a reward in working in video games. His primary strength in his story telling lies in the interactive tale he tells...which can take a considerable chunk of time. For example, if you were only to take just the cutscenes of Metal Gear Solid 4 (not counting side conversations and gameplay...which also serve in telling the story) you're looking at around 90 minutes.
On average any game is going to exceed the length of a movie, but when half of your game is a movie...that can be a problem. Let's not forget that Kojima's greatest strength in video gaming may also serve as his downfall in the movie business. From the mouth of Kojima himself:
Storytelling is very difficult. But adding the flavour helps to relay the storytelling, meaning in a cut scene, with a set camera and effects, you can make the users feel sorrow, or make them happy or laugh. This is an easy approach, which we have been doing. That is one point, the second point is that if I make multiple storylines and allow the users to select which story, this might really sacrifice the deep emotion the user might feel; when there's a concrete storyline, and you kind of go along that rail, you feel the destiny of the story, which at the end, makes you feel more moved. But when you make it interactive — if you want multiple stories where you go one way or another — will that make the player more moved when he or she finishes the game? These two points are really the key which I am thinking about, and if this works, I think I could probably introduce a more interactive storytelling method.
Can Kojima deliver a successful MGS movie without utilizing his greatest strength in story telling? If he can or potentially deliver a more interactive film going experience he is destined to create the best video game movie, and one of the top films of all time. If he can't and fails to effectively translate the world of Solid Snake without effectively confusing the audience things can collapse horribly. It will forever be remembered as a blight on one of the most critically acclaimed games of all time (ie: Mario Bros scenario). So can he and former Marvel producer Avi Arad pull it off? I'll certainly be rooting for them to do so.
Email Me: MickJoest@Geektyrant.com Twitter: @MickJoest