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.
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 bad-ass that was the polar opposite of his original incarnation.
Last month saw Raiden return to controversy, as he 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 the recent Video Game Awards 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.
It has long been rumoured that Platinum Games are 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 – the suggestion 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 led to both Hideo Kojima and PG’s Atsushi Inaba coming to the forefront, 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.
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.
Personally, I am 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 an entertaining outing, but strictly on the developer’s terms.
I don’t necessarily share the enthusiasm that many show for Platinum Games, 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, though I’m sure many of my colleagues here at Critical Gamer would disagree. 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 come to play Revengeance, I’ll try not to hold familiarity against it. I’ll 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. Platinum Games involvement should free-up Hideo Kojima to really get stuck into the mysterious “Project Ogre” and, who knows, it may even turn out to be the perfect palette cleanser for the long running series and the nudge that Kojima needs to get moving on Metal Gear Solid 5. Let’s just hope a dictionary is consulted before the next game is christened, as I don’t think my poor spell-check will survive another bout of Revengeance.