Revengeance is Not a Word
Raiden has always been a controversial character. His debut performance in Metal Gear Solid 2 was at the expense of a protagonist, Solid Snake, who was well loved by gamers. With his flowing, golden locks, androgynous appearance and a sneaking suit that hugged his buttocks far too tightly, Raiden was the antithesis of the chain smoking, rugged and gravel voiced hero that we were pining for. Hideo Kojima teased us with the tanker prelude where Snake took centre stage, only to whisk him away and relegate him to background character for the majority of the game.
Reaction to Raiden's surprise inclusion was overwhelmingly negative, and alongside a narrative that was at times incomprehensible he helped sour many on what was still an excellent game. Even Kojima Productions couldn't pass up the opportunity to mock Raiden, parodying him in Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater with Raikov, a Russian major, to whom he bore a strong resemblance and who happened to be Colonel Volgin's secret lover. MGS4 was kinder to Raiden, as he appeared in a cybernetic exoskeleton and wielded a katana that cut through steel; he became a cyborg badass that was the polar opposite of his original incarnation.
The last few days have seen Raiden return to controversy, as he has found himself smack bang in the middle of a web of lies and a Metal Gear spin-off that has attracted a very mixed, yet passionate response from fans. It was revealed at last weekend’s VGAs that Kojima productions' Metal Gear Solid: Rising is now Platinum Games' Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance. An impressive trailer revealed a game that looked nothing like the Metal Gear Solids of the past, as Platinum Games have not been shy in putting their stamp on it. It has since been revealed that Rising is not simply an existing project handed over to a new developer, but that the original concept was secretly canned at an unspecified time in the past, only to be revived when PG expressed an interest and started it almost from scratch.
Platinum Games had long been rumoured to be developing Rising - rumours that Kojima avoided and PG denied in an interview last summer - but it was still a surprise to most of us when their role was confirmed. Nonsensical sub headings aside – a rumour that the two studios considered merging and creating Kojinum Games has been confirmed only in my head - the announcement set the interwebs alight with panic, excitement and despair that have led to both Hideo Kojima and PG's Atsushi Inaba becoming rather vocal, following months of silence. Inaba jumped to the games defence on twitter, accepting that public reaction had been mixed, establishing PG’s reverence for MGS but making it clear that they wanted to create something different, which they certainly appear to have done.
|Super soldier fights massive robot. I saw a lot of Vanquish in the Rising trailer|
The bombastic trailer throws series convention to the wind, shedding the serious overtones of the Solid franchise and replacing it with eighties fonts, head-on combat and electric guitar riffs. These changes have left purists questioning the use of the Metal Gear moniker, though it is important that we make the distinction between Metal Gear Solid, a canon to which Rising does not belong, and Metal Gear. Revengeance (I already loath that word) is a standalone, spin off and we shouldn't limit PG's aspirations by trying to tie it down where it doesn’t quite belong.
I am somewhat torn with Rising. Although I was luke warm to the prospect of another Raiden led entry, as a huge fan of the series I was still looking forward to a new MGS and intrigued by a fresh combat model. Part of me feels like Revengeance is a misuse use of the series - I had to swallow a bit of sick when I first saw Raiden flip a metal gear with one hand - but from what the trailer revealed, this is far more Platinum Games than a continuation of what came before. I saw a lot of Vanquish in the teaser - a really fun game, but also a very shallow one - that makes me think this has the potential to a be a hugely entertaining outing, but strictly on PG's terms.
I don't necessarily share the enthusiasm that many show for this unique developer, as Mad World and the forthcoming Anarchy Reigns hold no interest, and I thought Bayonetta was an uneven adventure that was far too quirky for its own good. PG's lack of interest in character development and a penchant for terrible voice acting and dialogue does make me wonder why they would be chosen to breathe life into a dead Rising, when script and dialogue has always been a key element of Kojima's games.
When I play Revengeance - and I will play it - I'll try to judge it on its own merits, as an OTT action game that happens to have borrowed a title and a few characters from a series that I love – a familiarity that I'll try not to hold against it. Who knows, it may turn out to be a perfect palette cleanser for the franchise and the nudge that Kojima needs to get moving on the game I really want, Metal Gear Solid 5.