Metal Gear Rising: why it really is a Metal Gear

Phew. Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance is the real deal, after all. From exclamation marks to security cameras, stealthy stabbings to ear-popping Alert Phases, cardboard boxes to carefully placed posters of chesty wenches – Raiden’s return reeks of classic MGS hallmarks (although the bit where our bleach-blond ninja bodyslams a car park-sized Metal Gear Ray like the world’s stabbiest wrestler is new.).

Metal Gear Rising PS3: Platinum and Kojima working in harmony

Said slammage is an example of Kojima Productions and Platinum Games’ distinctly different ideologies merging to salvage a hugely ambitious actioner. Yes, we said ‘salvage’. Without the intervention of the Vanquish developer, what’s fast turning into one of PS3’s most shamelessly over-the-top, brutally exhilarating games may never have seen the light of our hero’s blisteringly bright moptop.

“It’s a game about action with the katana, so it was obvious we had to go to Platinum,” says Kojima Productions producer Yuji Korekado about Rising’s post-Koj developer. “But it’s still in the Metal Gear Solid timeline. The cut-scenes are looked over by Kojima Productions and the script is written by us, so they should all resemble something very similar to what you’ve experienced in the past. It’s a real
Metal Gear.”

Being a real boy – er, Metal Gear – meant Platinum had to wind Rising’s story into one of gaming’s most twisting, layered narratives, which Hideo Kojima has spent the past 25 years spinning. Coming four years after the events of Metal Gear Solid 4, the universe seen in Revengeance is still adjusting to life without the globe-controlling Patriots. The war economy has collapsed, multinational private military contractors have splintered into smaller organisations, and a world without nanomachines and the SOP system has driven PMCs to a new generation of warfare.

The mad doctors of the Metal Gear universe had mastered cyborg technology as early as the 1980s, so by 2018 – when Revengeance is set – cyborgs have gone mainstream. Raiden is one of many, but also one of the best, contracted by Maverick Securities to protect the president of a small African nation. Unsurprisingly, it turns into a botch job to rival our former Foxhound operative letting poor Emma Emmerich get gutted like a speccy sea bass by Vamp in MGS2.

In the game’s prologue you play as a white-armoured Raiden, protecting the president’s motorcade from renegade PMC Desperado Enforcement’s cyborg soldiers and going one-on-one against its own custom Metal Gear Ray. Scenes I’m shown behind closed doors see Raiden slamming the entire Ray by its sword arm, being propelled into a clock tower, and sprinting down the side – defying both gravity and the Ray’s relentless missile barrage – before slicing the mech in two with a single katana strike. It really is the most balls-out exciting action game since Platinum’s own Bayonetta.

“We finally have something to show to the fans,” enthuses Korekado. “This demo is being played for the first time, so it’s the culmination of our art and story direction, and Platinum’s game design. We feel we’ve made something great together – we can disprove those guys who’ve been saying this isn’t a real Metal Gear.”

The Ray distracts Raiden just long enough for Desperado’s Sundowner to slice the president’s throat, and weakens him enough for rival cyborg swordsman Sam to take Raiden’s arm and eye. Already the Metal Gear references are clear – like MGS2’s Tanker chapter, Snake Eater’s Virtuous Mission and MGS4’s Liquid Sun, things end in defeat (this time minus the dodgy mullets) – and Raiden is forced to return home to Maverick. Outfitted with new black armour, he heads to the Eastern European republic of Abkhazia to intercept Desperado’s forces, via a one-man stealth drone, mirroring Snake’s infiltration of Shadow Moses in Metal Gear Solid.

“Since the stealth aspect was pretty minimal in our game, we had to focus more on the Metal Gear world,” says Platinum’s game director, Kenji Saito. “We had to ensure that Metal Gear feeling was included in Revengeance. We never planned to create an addition to the Metal Gear series. We wanted to create something within the saga that fit the timeline and was included in the Metal Gear world. We wanted everything to feel right. We even have that exclamation mark when enemies see you! That’s something we definitely wanted to put into Revengeance.”