In a recent interview with Famitsu, Metal Gear Solid and Zone of the Enders creator Hideo Kojima revealed he has originally planned to abandon the classic reactions of soldiers. A recognisable element which has stayed throughout almost the entire series, question and exclamation marks have served as methods of sensing an enemy’s awareness levels. These appear above an enemy’s head if they are suspicious of nearby activities or spot Snake outright. While simple but effective, Kojima was considering changing the system to something more complex.
In response to a comment relating to field of view he admitted that it was only his staff telling him of the uproar it would cause which convinced him to keep the system. His plan to replace the system was to have players be forced to read the expressions and body language of enemies, allowing for a greater range of ambiguity. Kojima cited realistic character visuals and modern console specs as a reason this would be an effective substitute to the classic approach.
How well this might have worked is hard a hard thing to judge.
On the one hand, this is coming from Kojima himself, who has been able to make such ideas work extremely well in the past. Furthermore this is a statement being based upon next gen technology, so there is little on the PS3 or Xbox 360 to truly compare it to.
On the other, Metal Gear Solid’s use of exclamation marks made enemy reactions easy to spot in both third and first person viewings, whereas here it might be harder to see outside of a first person perspective. Having gone unchanged for so long, it might have also been a case of trying to fix what isn’t broken.
Still this is just speculation which will go unanswered. The next game will still have guards reacting the same way as before, so fans should be happy.
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