Let us begin this editorial with a preface: I love the Metal Gears series. I love the characters, the overly-convoluted stories and the mythos that Hideo Kojima and Kojima Productions have stitched together over years of slaving away at game developed. The Metal Gear Solid series is one I will always turn towards when the debate of cutting edge development, innovation and epic narratives is brought up regarding video games. The pedigree of work Kojima and his crew have done on the MGS series has also made me a Kojima Productions fan for life. It only requires their emblem on a game box to sway me to the counter with my money in hand.
And even with this unwavering love for Kojima and Metal Gear, I still find myself slightly off-put by Metal Gear Solid: Rising -- now known as Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance, as was revealed this past weekend at the Spike Video Game Awards. That’s right, what was once Metal Gear Solid: Rising is now a completely new beast, headlined by development firm Platinum Games -- the makers of MadWorld, Bayonetta and Vanquish. And that has me nervous as hell.
Before we press forward, take a second to watch the trailer if you haven’t already seen it:
It’s come to light since the game’s “re-reveal” at the Spike VGAs that Metal Gear Solid: Rising, as we used to know it, was effectively canned in secret months ago. The team at Kojima Productions essentially lost drive and focus on the project, and Kojima himself decided to pull the plug altogether. It took a visit to Kojima Productions by Platinum Games -- where they voiced their excitement for the project -- for MGS: Rising to get dusted off and handed over to Platinum to finish.
For that, I’m happy this ambitious Metal Gear title is in the hands of such a competent developer. If Platinum never visited the Kojima studios, I’m sure we would never hear the end of jokes centered around Metal Gear Solid: Rising’s “cut anything” gameplay mechanics and how the game ironically ended up on the cutting room floor.
With that said, Platinum Games, for everything they offer to the gaming world, doesn’t seem like the right fit for Metal Gear Solid -- outside the enthusiasm they apparently bring to the project. There’s no doubt that Platinum knows how to make fundamentally solid, and more importantly, fun games. You need only look at Bayonetta and Vanquish to drive home that point.
However, their idea of fun is not the same type of fun that Kojima and Kojima Productions strive for. Where Platinum focuses on over-the-top bombastic action that sidelines plot, Kojima is more concerned with tactical, methodical gameplay centered almost exclusively around delivering a worthwhile story with well developed characters. Why else would every Metal Gear title have cutscenes exceeding an hour and a half if that weren’t the case?
And this brings me to the actual plot for Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance. It’s being changed now that it’s in the hands of Platinum. The game was originally intended to take place between the events of Metal Gear Solid 2 and Metal Gear Solid 4. Now, however, Revengeance will take place after the events of Metal Gear Solid 4, giving Platinum the creative freedom to carve their own niche out of the Metal Gear franchise. For that, I understand the narrative shift. However, it already contradicts the ending to Kojima’s Metal Gear Solid saga, where Raiden (AKA Jack) went through restorative surgery to resume a normal life with his wife and son. I already have a bad taste in my mouth and I haven’t even picked up the control yet -- in fact, I’ve only seen one three-minute trailer. How’s that for snap judgments?
Maybe I’m crazy here. Please, if you disagree with this psuedo-rant, leave a comment below to tell me how wrong I am. Tell me my fears are baseless. Trust me, I want to completely trust Platinum Games’ direction for Rising (let us also note here that Kojima Productions is still involved in the project at a production capacity). It’s just that Metal Gear Solid has always grounded in reality its brushes with the ridiculous (the Raiden/Vamp sword fight from MGS4 quickly comes to mind). The series has never been as verbose as Raiden lifting an entire Metal Gear with his own two hands, tossing it like a trash bag and then running up it while slicing it to bits. At what point does that stop being Metal Gear and just become Bayonetta with a male lead? And if that distinction can't be made, why even bother calling it Metal Gear?