Konami Ceases Console Game Development, Technical Director Leaves

19 Sep 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Konami gives up making console games – except for PES – claims report.

Rumours have been circling for months now that Konami is on the cusp of abandoning the traditional console games market, and according to multiple sources that’s exactly what’s happened.

For years Konami has been producing fewer and fewer games, across an increasingly narrow range of franchises, to the point where Metal Gear and Pro Evolution Soccer are now their only major series left in regular production. It offered gazillions of covert, optionally nonlethal ways to skirmish with other players across a battery of maps and stealth-flavored mission templates. But despite the furore over Hideo Kojima’s supposed exit from the company – which is still yet to be confirmed – Konami has always implied that it would continue the series without him.

But it never really caught on, leading publisher Konami to scotch the endeavor on June 12, 2012, two years to the day after it launched alongside Metal Gear Solid 4. But today French site Gameblog is reporting that Konami worldwide technology director Julien Merceron has left the company, unhappy that it is now focusing almost exclusively on mobile games.

Just Metal Gear Online, hey how’s it going, or in series parlance, “Kept you waiting, huh?” The video below offers a fresh-from-the-Tokyo-Game-Show guided tour of the game’s elaborate play styles and modes. A Japanese newspaper report in August cast further doubt on Konami’s commitment to home console and PC gaming, but our own sources told us that some of these reports are more of a worst case scenario and that Konami was actually considering greenlighting a number of new games – and that Hideo Kojima might not leave after all. It’s a battle in many a game these days, the battle over whether the story the gamer creates is enough, without the story the game itself may try to tell. The Phantom Pain starts out like so many Metal Gears before, seemingly driven by narrative, with a first, scripted level that sets the tone, introduces a strange conflict. Character controls are identical to the campaign’s, flattening the acclimation curve, and most of the play concepts dovetail with stuff practiced for dozens of hours in the story.

The franchise has long teetered on the edge of anime and more military-themed tales, but early on, there’s an emphasis to embrace things a bit more wild and outlandish, setting a unique tone for the entire game. Interrogating enemies as an infiltrator, for instance, lets you extract locational info about opposing team member (as with enemy sentries in the campaign). He’s out of the hospital now, and with that event as a backdrop, Punished Snake and a mentor set out to change the world and exact a level of vengeance by forming their own independent military outfit.

And yes, if you’d rather kidnap than kill, you can “Fulton” enemies out of Dodge (the game’s tongue-in-cheek quick-extraction system) with a kneel, clip-on balloon and chuckling bon voyage. The missions themselves can sometimes feel formulaic (save this person, extract that item, find this, eliminate that threat), but that only serves to let the gameplay shine that much more.

And wrinkles in different play modes introduce clever ways to replenish a dwindling ticket score, like taking out an enemy who’s killed a bunch of your teammates (and who thus has a high “bounty” score), which then adds his bounty to your ticket tally (potentially swinging the match). The rest is better shown than told, including the thing about the plush puppy and the sniper and the … well, you really need to see for yourself in the 11-minute demonstration above. Just as importantly, taking a non-stealth approach never feels “wrong.” You can easily play out missions like a third-person shooter, raining chaos on your enemies via a sniper rifle and rocket launcher. Many areas invite such an approach; why else would Ocelot continually remind you whenever you pass a turret that you can destroy it “or use it yourself”?

The way you handle things could easily lead to the dramatic set piece that feels so scripted in other games, the race to the chopper as C4 explosions rain down behind you, the horse chase as you do everything possible to not let your escaping target get away. You can capture troops on your missions, then assign them to different areas of the Mother Base, where they aid your operation in different ways, part of your private army. Base management itself is nothing special — a lot of sifting through less-than-stellar menus — but the payoff comes when you request a weapons drop in the field and get that brand shiny new sniper rifle you’ve desperately wanted. The lone blemish on this core experience is the presence of the Skulls, a fearsome collection of super soldiers who are among your earliest truly significant battles in a story mission.

The Skulls simply don’t fit the template of the Metal Gear boss fights we’ve seen over the years; inviting no truly tactical approach to battle, seeming more frantic than strategic. It’s also handed out in a sometimes distracting episodic nature; story missions have their own “beginning” and “end,” complete with a quick section of credits that feels gratuitous and doesn’t seem to add anything to the playing experience. For those who have long found Metal Gear too preachy, the simpler tale is a relief, a perfectly basic wrapper for a Metal Gear that’s driven by its fantastic gameplay experience.

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