Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance is an absolute breath of fresh air for the Hideo Kojima-conceived series. Stealth is all well and good and it most definitely has its place in the Metal Gear universe, but Kojima Productions’ choice of handing over a cyborg ninja-focused action game to PlatinumGames, the architects of highly technical brawlers like Bayonetta and Vanquish, was a master stroke. The collaboration has proven to be valuable for both parties, as I learned last week during my extended hands-on preview time.
That event also offered an opportunity to sit down with Yuji Korekado and Atsushi Inaba, Revengeance‘s lead producers for Kojima Productions and PlatinumGames, respectively. Since the interview was conducted entirely through a translator, we’re going to use more of a Q&A-style format for delivering it, in the hopes of better preserving the essence of each response. I covered a lot of ground during our brief chat, exploring what drew PlatinumGames to the project in the first place, the sort of message that a title like “Metal Gear Rising” sends, and how this new entry fits into the larger universe.
Can you talk a little bit about what drew PlatinumGames to the Metal Gear universe in the first place?
Korekado: Metal Gear Solid: Rising started development at Kojima Productions. At that point it was based on Raiden, and we wanted over-the-top action based on references from Metal Gear Solid 4, where he acrobatically fights Gekkos. We wanted the users to have that fun playing the game. At that point, Kojima Productions handled it and it was still an action game.
How did the work divide up between the two studios?
Korekado: As far as the division of labor, Kojima Productions looked over the world view and how it fit into the timeline of Metal Gear, as well as the script, story, and cutscenes. We left all of the game design and development to PlatinumGames. [The collaboration] blended perfectly.
One thing that immediately struck me after spending a few hours in Revengeance is how tightly the story comes together. Metal Gear is traditionally known for its deeply involved plotlines and lengthy cutscenes. Can you talk a bit about how that approach has been altered in Revengeance?
Korekado: As far as cutscenes go, we wanted to hit directly, short and pretty. The reason being this is an up-tempo game, very fast-paced, and we didn’t want to ruin the game flow with long cutscenes. In the past we’ve had very long cutscenes in all Metal Gear Solids, but we felt with an action game we had to switch it up. If we weren’t able to convey any message that the player needs to know through cutscenes, we do that through real-time codecs… as Raiden is walking through the stage.
On the PlatinumGames side, how much freedom were you given to paint your own take on the Metal Gear universe?
Inaba: When it comes to game design, we had complete freedom. In actuality, the script was really wrapped around the game design so we didn’t have too many problems on the PlatinumGames side. The script writer on Kojima Productions’ side had to put in a lot more effort based on our game design because he had to revise it based on [what we were doing].
In the beginning, Kojima Productions and PlatinumGames got together and put a wrap on the story and the script, the messaging that we wanted to convey. We pretty much abided by that, but of course when the game design and the development moves forward, there’s a lot of things that could change. Based on those changes the script did have to be revised accordingly. So it went both ways. If the script changed, the game design had to change a little bit, but it usually went with the game design changing and the script writer having to make some revisions on the story side.
The title of the game changed fairly late in its development. Can you talk a bit about the reason for that change? Can you also speak to the use of “Rising” in the title? It’s a word that implies a birth or a dawning of something. How does that apply to this particular story?
Korekado: The reason for the title change — and of course there’s a lot of reasons for it — is this is a different kind of Metal Gear. It’s not stealth-based, it’s action-based. We were a little concerned that maybe fans wouldn’t accept it [when it was first announced]. We feel that all the fans have been calling for a new franchise and that they’re catching onto the fun of this game. If we feel the support and the feedback to make another game, of course we’d like to move onto another one.
As far as “Rising” in the Metal Gear universe, it’s not our choice. It really is up to the fans. We bring up something and we really engage feedback. Everything is a beginning and we feel that “Rising” is a start. There’s another reason that we wanted to make this game: in the Metal Gear universe, there are so many unique characters and we just wanted to add more background to one character. That doesn’t just pertain to Raiden; there are so many others. I think we’re able to prove that, using one of these characters and creating the game, we’re able to expand on the universe. Moving forward, we’d like to venture out and see if there are other characters as well. But once again, that isn’t really something we can just push forward on. We have to engage feedback from our fans.