"Because this is an open world, you can choose whatever route you like to infiltrate this camp," says Kojima, as Big Boss (well, officially so far it's just Snake) approaches Camp Omega, where his mission is to extract Paz and Chico, the young Militaires Sans Frontières fighters from Peace Walker. "Usually in a Metal Gear game, around now there would be some enemies to sneak past, but this is less that kind of puzzle game. It's more a real-time sneaking game."
Snake crawls along as he has always done, using similar crouching and crawling motions to those of Old Snake in Metal Gear Solid 4, but more graceful and fluid. Searchlights flood the ground ahead with light, just as when Solid Snake first infiltrated the compound on Shadow Moses Island in 1998's Metal Gear Solid, but here the effect is much more subtle - when the light nearly hits Snake he's not immediately seen, and a quick roll hides him just quickly enough to avoid detection. "This is what I'd hoped to do with the first MGS, actually," says Kojima.
What you're seeing with Fox Engine is much more than just an evolution in horse power; this is an engine designed to render the contents of Hideo Kojima's brain onscreen, from the most delicate refinements to the brutest insanity. The cutscene and gameplay footage you've seen online is all running in-game, according to Kojima, on a PC capped to PS3 specs.
That last part seems impossible, doesn't it? Can the PS3 really handle Metal Gear Solid: Ground Zeroes? "This is not just a tech demo," stressed Kojima. "I'm not sure yet when the game will be released; we could make a linear game much more easily, but I wanted to set this game in an open world. I don't think you'll be waiting too long, but we're not going to release it until it's ready." If it follows the same development timeline as Metal Gear Solid 3 - a game which only hit PS2 because Kojima was frustrated waiting for PS3 and 360 - we could see it as soon as November 2013, running on current generation platforms.
And then an orchestra struck up with renditions of music from MGS4 and Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker, as attendees got stuck in to "camouflage salad" and spring rolls shaped like cigars, and a plethora of Japanese celebs - from Olympic medallist Uchimura to members of massive Japanese pop group AKB48 and a gaggle of game developers - took turns to sing Kojima's praises.
After 25 years at the helm of Metal Gear, Kojima is often accused by detractors of taking the easy route, sticking with the series when he could be inventing something new. But the Tokyo event made it clear that Metal Gear is just the framework for Kojima's bonkers ideas, and that he has a fire in his belly to continue competing - and winning - on the global stage.