Hideo Kojima and Konami are finished with each other. Three decades of love, hate, and what seemed like a blank canvas granted to the first and last great gaming auteur is over. Now that the dust kicked up by their breakup has settled, we are left with Metal Gear: Survive. This is a product that has the “Metal Gear” name on its cover, but it’s not a Metal Gear game. It’s a reminder that all good things must come to an end.
As a young art form, gaming has witnessed more births than deaths. But what Konami delivered here is the first real, astonishing, triple-A carcass for us to pay our respects to in our lifetime. Metal Gear: Survive is a wandering soldier, a husk, a re-skinned, re-purposed FOX Engine spinoff which features a non-canonical side-story. Its assets and locations are recycled from Metal Gear Solid V, but instead of infiltrating military installations full of guerillas and special forces, you sneak past zombies who have shards in their heads. It feels pointless.
Survive‘s story takes place sometime between Metal Gear: Ground Zeroes and Metal Gear V: The Phantom Pain in an alternate dimension that looks a lot like the Afghanistan map from MGSV. It’s the most blatant in a potpourri of borrowed elements from the still-impressive FOX Engine. The game looks great, but funeral homes have a way of dressing up the corpse, don’t they?
Like its predecessors, Survive also features some of the basic sneaking elements found in the Metal Gear series, but the main gameplay mechanic is placing down magical fences so you can poke the weird, amethyst-head zombies to death. It gets old. It’s echos like these that add weight onto the tedious gameplay and frustrating, dense interface. We should have it so much better.
And yet, Konami shambles forward, like the soulless, cliché zombies that terrorize you throughout your time in the dust-filled wasteland of Dite.
Zombie games were last interesting in 2008, when Metal Gear Solid 4 delivered a heartfelt goodbye to Solid Snake amidst the zombie genre-busting releases of Left 4 Dead and Call of Duty: World at War’s Nazi Zombies. Back then it felt fresh. It felt like everyone was trying. And Kojima’s send-off to his protagonist couldn’t have been more perfect.