At the end of 2010 I'd already decided to cancel the game," says Kojima Productions' boss Hideo Kojima.
Metal Gear Solid Rising's development was halted early last year, but twelve months later a new game with a new name stands in its place - thanks to the greatest action game developers in the world, Platinum Games.
Metal Gear Rising Revengeance isn't Tactical Espionage Action; it's a 300mph bloodbath pitting Raiden against a cybernetically-modified army in a nation recovering from the wars of Metal Gear Solid 4. From Kojima's side comes the story, script, character design and cutscenes, while Platinum handle game design and production. And yes, you can still slice anyone up however you please.
THE STORY SO FAR
While Kojima was working on Peace Walker and the next-generation FOX Engine, a team within Kojima Productions went to work on the original Rising. Their plan was to build a game featuring high-speed swordplay with traditional stealth, with a story following Raiden in the years after MGS2. But things didn't work out.
"We were lost when it came to the game design," says Kojima's 3D CG advisor Hideki Sasaki. "We were struggling with the balance between stealth and action and we had trouble maintaining balance between level design and freely cutting through anything and everything. These problems were causing major delays, and we weren't getting results."
Kojima received a 2010 end-of-year report from producer Yuji Korekado and made his decision to kill the project. MGS Rising needed a strong director and a strong direction, but Kojima found he still liked the characters and story, and began considering other options.
"I considered several studios abroad," says Kojima, "but since this is a ninja action game with swords, a Japanese studio felt the best fit. The only studio I felt could do it was Platinum Games. If anybody could do it, it would be them."
Kojima approached Platinum's boss Tatsuya Minami and asked for help. "Within a week they showed me a work plan," says Kojima. "It was a document with easily understood ideas and goals. A few months later they delivered an alpha. The product they came up with was really good - it had all the elements we were looking for."
Rising was rebuilt from the ground up, in Platinum's own engine, as a pure action title. Platinum can claim to be the best action developer in the world - Bayonetta is untouchable - while Vanquish was a daring take on where shooters should go next. It was faster and more stylish than any Western take on cover-based combat. Now Revengeance is pushing the limits of Metal Gear Solid.
Raiden fights with a Bayonetta-like combo system, with rapid transitions between enemies and complex combos you create on the fly. As you build your own combos you build your own style - weakening enemies until you strike with a precision slice, carving them along lines you choose.
Enemy soldiers lose hands or heads to Raiden's sword, while MGS4's mooing GEKKO mecha can be chopped down by tearing through their legs. One boss fight pits Raiden against a modified Metal Gear Ray and sees him toss the anti-Metal Gear Metal Gear (really) hundreds of feet into the air, then carve it into pieces in the sky.
But none of this is authentic, right? It's not real Metal Gear. Wrong. In MGS4 Raiden lost both arms but still fought an entire army with a sword in his teeth. He stopped a 100,000 ton battleship by digging his heels in, and destroyed an army of GEKKOs single-handed. Metal Gear Rising is a fully playable version of every cutscene, and Raiden is - at last - agile, fast and lethal in a way no previous Metal Gear game has ever managed.
"Just swinging the sword or running around feels great," says Kojima's producer Korekado. "It feels like a great Platinum action title with a story and cutscenes that're really characteristic of Kojima Productions. By working together we're achieving something we couldn't do. Something we can only do together." n
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