Metal Gear Solid Delta's producer is up for the challenge of reviving one of gaming's greatest series, and wants fans along for the ride: 'Please keep watching, and keep us honest'

Big Boss saluting.
(Image credit: Konami)

Ever since the departure of creator Hideo Kojima in uncertain circumstances, Konami has struggled with the Metal Gear series. In 2018 the ill-advised Metal Gear Survive (an idea Kojima himself had floated) released to poor reviews and sales, after which things went silent for years.

But now Konami's trying to revive its flagship, and has decided to start by rebuilding the foundations. Making every mainline Metal Gear available on contemporary platforms via MGS: The Master Collection, with Volume 1 released last year and Volume 2 due at a later date, and remaking Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater, probably the most beloved entry in the series. Alongside this it made the wise move to re-hire actor and director David Hayter as the face of the series (unceremoniously dumped by Kojima for MGS5: Ground Zeroes and The Phantom Pain), who's now fronting a series of videos about the games under the banner of "Legacy".

The second video mainly consists of Hayter talking about how mind-blowing Metal Gear Solid Delta: Snake Eater is. Not exactly unexpected, though in his paean Hayter does include some new details about the remaster: the scars of injuries will now persist throughout the game, for example, leaving some fans worried they'll end up with Snake looking like a walking corpse.

The most interesting element of this Legacy video, however, is the appearance of Noriaki Okamura, who is acting as producer on both MGS: The Master Collection and MGS Delta: Snake Eater. Okamura has been at Konami for a long time, starting on Policenauts, and his connection to Metal Gear goes back to Metal Gear Solid. He begins by discussing the launch of MGS: The Master Collection, before moving on to Delta.

"When [MGS: The Master Collection] was released we got a lot of unhappy feedback," admits Okamura, "where people were struggling with bugs and playability issues, and issues with the resolution. We’re very sorry that the game wasn’t up to standards."

Okamura is here referring to some of the issues players experienced with the control scheme, missing options and muddy textures: most of which, it should be said, have since been addressed in patches.

"We're still continuing to update and improve the game to address these issues," says Okamura, "we want everyone to still be enjoying Metal Gear and this compilation even 10, 20 years from now, so we hope everyone will give us a little more time to get it there."

It's perhaps worth emphasising for the non-gearheads that before The Master Collection many of these games hadn't ever appeared on PC (unless you count the MSX as a PC, which is probably fair enough). Now they're all in one package and on Steam and, I have to imagine, will be where I replay them long into the future. So it's good to know Konami isn't done with Volume 1 yet, even if the announcement of Volume 2's contents can't come fast enough (give me Ghost Babel, please). 

Okamura then moves on to Delta, and gives a very good rationale for Konami's approach to the remake, which can be summed-up as extremely faithful to the source.

"As for Metal Gear Solid Delta you can look at how games in general have gone from 2D to 3D," says Okamura, "how their graphics have progressed, and Metal Gear has evolved the same way. It started as 2D pixel graphics, then went to 3D, then to looking like something out of a movie.

"So when I look at it, I think of the history of Metal Gear as a lot like the history of all video games, and the Master Collection as a kind of experience retracing that history. When I consider it that way, I do think it’s meaningful to present these titles the same way they were, and not go out of the way just to change a lot of things. Pixel graphics can stay as pixels, early 3D can stay looking a little crunchy, is how I see it."

This makes sense to me, and ironically it's because I think of Konami's own Silent Hill HD Collection. That particular remake project ended up pleasing nobody, because it took SD games that had created an incredible visual atmosphere within their limitations, and upscaled everything with little thought for the aesthetic. It ended up with the games losing a huge amount of their character, and new players could have been forgiven for wondering why anyone cared about Silent Hill in the first place.

"Obviously new generations of players keep coming," says Okamura, "so we needed to do more there than just put out the same games again. With that in mind, we left the gameplay, the story, and the voice cast of the original as-is, but we had to bring the graphics and the controls and play-feel up to modern standards, all of which have changed over the years.

"So all of that has been updated, but the core game, and the creative vision of the original staff, none of those parts of the game have changed. Even while updating it, it was very important for us to be faithful to those aspects of the game."

Okamura goes on to say that the choice to focus on Delta was because Metal Gear is a "whole epic saga", and so the thinking here was "how to introduce people to it". Again this makes sense: MGS3 is a prequel to the series, introducing the character Naked Snake who will come to dominate events in the other entries, so from a purely chronological perspective it's a gimme. It also no doubt helps that it's by far the most straightforward and easy to understand game in the series, narratively speaking.

Which implies that Konami has big plans beyond Delta. There's no shortage of raw material: the first games in the series remain 8-bit MSX titles, arguably ripe for lavish remakes, while there's a wealth of other raw material from the original Metal Gear Solid to the various PSP spin-offs. If Konami wanted to go big on Metal Gear, it both has the means to do so and a rich vein to mine.

The elephant in the room, of course, is Konami itself. I must confess to having some sympathy with the publisher here, which has been comprehensively blamed for Kojima's departure and subject to enormous animosity from gamers who believe it mistreated the director. My own sense is that Kojima stage-managed his departure to exactly this effect and that, perhaps, Konami has been painted somewhat unfairly. But unfairly or no, it's a perception that the publisher knows it will have to confront with this Metal Gear remake project, and Okamura sounds like he's up for the challenge.

"We want the players to be able to judge for themselves whether this new team is right for the job of keeping Metal Gear going," ends Okamura. "So please, keep watching, and keep us honest."

Rich Stanton

Rich is a games journalist with 15 years' experience, beginning his career on Edge magazine before working for a wide range of outlets, including Ars Technica, Eurogamer, GamesRadar+, Gamespot, the Guardian, IGN, the New Statesman, Polygon, and Vice. He was the editor of Kotaku UK, the UK arm of Kotaku, for three years before joining PC Gamer. He is the author of a Brief History of Video Games, a full history of the medium, which the Midwest Book Review described as "[a] must-read for serious minded game historians and curious video game connoisseurs alike."