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Metal Gear Solid games are the perfect sequels.

How do you make a great sequel? It seems these days you get a majority of developers simply using an existing formula and running with it. To be fair why wouldn't you? A fan of a certain franchise would expect the next installment to have the same feel as the previous games. For example... Uncharted, Uncharted 2 and Uncharted 3 all feel the same. It isn't a bad thing because the games are so brilliant and not thrown out every year. The gameplay changes seem to be more like fine tuning a formula than completely pushing it forward. It is completely fine and in no way is it a negative criticism. I know what I am getting with Uncharted and it is nice to know I can blindly spend my money on the games. Call of Duty pumps out games every single year and it seems people are complaining about the formula (I love the franchise, but I love a wide range of games and this is a discussion for another topic). Resident Evil had many of its first titles feeling very samey and that franchise was also loved. Now they have changed the whole game completely and it has alienated the original fanbase.

So, how do you make a sequel that feels different from the previous game yet retains the core fundamentals that the fans love? Well, I for one could not pull off such a difficult task, but it seems the Metal Gear Solid franchise have this skill down to perfection. Let me back up my claim.

Now there are features that make a sequel better. Example... Uncharted 3 improved the melee over the previous game. It was a step up. However, Metal Gear Solid games seem to include features that totally change the way you play the game. The changes from MGS1 to MGS2 were so significant. The whole first person aspect totally changed how you could play. Of course there were lesser features that tied up the gameplay too such as looking round corners. MGS2 has a whole different vibe to it than the first game yet it feels like a MGS game. This obviously could be down to a technical leap. The PS2 was capable of much more than PS1. When MGS3 was announced you probably thought initially it would play like MGS2. The game is completely different. I don't want to list every feature the game changes, but the upgrades to existing features and the completely new features changed the way you approached the game. The biggest change was the environment and it was perfectly implemented. Open areas, a stamina bar and camo. I mean, something as simple as crawling through grass was COMPLETELY new to the series and yet it felt natural.

I find it odd how one franchise can include so many core changing elements to its game and have it feel familiar to the games that came before it. Even the transition to MGS4 (a game that I don't particularly like... worst in the series, but I won't bore you with my opinion) went as smooth as previous titles. Aiming over the shoulder again changed the feel of the game. The Drebin store and gun attachments again changed the rules of the series. Heck, even the crouching felt like it was there from the start. So many little changes that fine tune the gameplay and the more in depth changes for the core still don't make this game feel any less of a MGS game. I don't know how they managed it. This is the first MGS game I played with a full 3D camera (I didn't buy subsistence). Now you don't have to pop in to First Person to check for guards or rely on pressing to walls.

At its core the franchise still feels like MGS1. Hints of the character movement, jokes and menu system are all pretty much included in today's games. I just don't understand how they managed to strike such an amazing balance of changing their game and yet keeping it the same. I don't think any other franchise in history has come close to updating their sequels quite like MGS. Final Fantasy may be a nice mention, but since every sequel is like a brand new fresh start nullifies the points I am trying to make.

If you can think of any game franchise that has managed to last as well as MGS I would like to see it in the comment section. I am by no means a MGS fanboy and definitely not a Sony fanboy, but as far as creating the perfect sequel I think MGS has it covered.

MGS Ground Zeroes again looks to shake things up... we will have to see if it retains the classic MGS style. I am quite confident we will.


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Nicaragua2019d ago (Edited 2019d ago )

Its simple - MGS games are built around characters acting and moving in a realistic way. Stealth games by their nature require lots of options for movement and interaction with the enviroment, otherwise the stealth mechanic becomes a very obvious and tedious game of "avoid detection trigger X"

As hardware and programming techniques become more advanced then the games move closer to Kojimas vision of a realistic stealth game where you can do pretty much whatever you can imagine with the enviroment and tools you have.

garos822019d ago

absolutely brilliant post. couldnt agree more. the core game mechanic change quite alot and yet the game remains familiar,fresh and indeed a sequel. not many devs can do this or even have the balls to attempt to do this, yet kojima manages this every bloody time! the guy is definately a genius and his team are very talented individuals.

one thing id like to mention to op is give peace walker a try. there are MASSIVE changes to this game in mgs formula mainly the ability to co op the entire game as well as building of mother base and its micromanagement features. ive only recently played this via the hd collection and because ive never owned a psp and seriously it is the best mgs ive played. ive played the collection religiously over the last month and a half and mgs2 and 3 (although have finished them many times in the past) still felt fresh, fun and exhilarating. everything from music,gameplay high production values,replayability,story ,fun extras etc etc etc these games have it all!
ground zero day 1 or rather day zero! :)

caseh2019d ago

I gave Peace Walker a shot but it didn't really do anything for me.

Probably stems from the fact that i've played all the MGS games from the NES upwards, each one technically better than the last. When MGS4 come about I could see from the previews that Snake was about to give his final salute. Was kinda sad as it was a story that spanned over 20 years of gaming and you also got to play as Big Boss in MGS3 which was a clever approach.

Not a fan of going back to different parts of the timeline with the exception of MGS3 as you're effectively playing as Snake and no one really knew who Big Boss was until the story progresses, I guess I just wanted them to do MGS4 and put the series to bed.

Who knows, when Ground Zero comes about maybe i'll feel differently.

TheModernKamikaze2017d ago

Peace Walker was my first MGS game, and I loved it, weirdly enough I haven't bought MGS4, but now that they announced a 25th anniversary of it, I'm hooked and pleased of it's convenience.

-GametimeUK-2017d ago

I promise to give Peace Walker a shot. Its on my to do list.
I'm glad you enjoyed the post and happy that you agree with it.

Ducky2019d ago (Edited 2019d ago )

I pretty much agree. The only negative I can think of when it comes to MGS is that it has to carry the storyline from previous games which, after the 2nd game, became quite a jumbled mess.

There are games that might have one sequel that takes a massive improvement over the previous one (like JustCause2) but not many that consistently do it for so long like MGS.
What I really like about them is, as you said, they transition smoothly. The gameplay has this kind of 'backward compatibility', where you can play it like the older game, and gradually learn about new features.

Only other game I can think of that has a comparable track record would be the GTA series.

Nate-Dog2018d ago

I would agree with most of what you have said, although I don't think MGS4 retained that MGS feel to it. The game didn't really require stealth and only had one chapter / act where it was really needed and where it worked well, but apart from that it was way too easy to go all guns blazing when you wanted to (or needed to, as when you got caught even on the highest difficulty there was no trouble in getting out of that situation unlike before when you'd often really fear for being caught). Act 3 was just stalking one person with few guards around, Act 4 was just walking through a dead Shadow Moses, and Act 5 was barely even a full act.

Nicaragua2018d ago

you could only go guns blazing on the lower difficulty settings, if you tried it on the harder ones then you got killed fast.

I think this is one of MGS4's greatest triumphs in that if you want to play it as an all out shooter then (your a muppet) you could, but if you want to master the game and get through it without being detected, using a firearm, or making a kill, then you could - very few other games have that kind of freedom and manage to pull it off as well as MGS4.

-GametimeUK-2017d ago

I agree with what you say about MGS4 completely. I bring the exact same points up when discussing the game. If the game was more like the first 2 acts I would be happy. However, I can still tell it is a MGS game and that is the point I'm making. You don't think it feels like a MGS game then that's fine. Yeah, the game was pretty dire after the first 2 chapters... nothing but that chase quest, action scenes, boss fights and robots. I am VERY disappointed with MGS4.

Spore_7772018d ago

I have to say, I share similar sentiments.
I played Subsistence, the full 3D camera was, believe it or not, "hard to use" because I am so used to the previous camera system that I reverted to it.
Peace Walker is the only game I am yet to play.
All in all, MGS is a prime example of perfection regards sequels.
Great article. Total thumbs up.

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