I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: the Metal Gear franchise is the greatest franchise in video games today. I don’t care what it’s up against whether, it’s Uncharted, Dead Space, Assassin’s Creed, or whatever franchise you want. Metal Gear, in my opinion, combines the best of amazing storytelling, unique gameplay, imaginative boss battles, an emotional soundtrack, graphics that push consoles to their limits, and making the argument that video games are art pressed to a disc. Whenever I hear about a new MG game, I’m stoked and proceed to impatiently await its release. I love the series, and it’s the reason I decided to try to get into video game journalism.
Needless to say, I’m super excited for Metal Gear Rising, and can’t wait to play it. However, there are many people out there that are already condemning it. Some of these people have never been fans of the series, which is extra annoying. Can you seriously be considered worthy of judging a game that you’ve never played? Along side them, however, we also have fans of the series sounding off on how Rising has “strayed away from its genre,” or how “they made Raiden ridiculous.” My view? I really don’t understand what the problem is, and am still excited for it.
Let’s start by going over the main character. Raiden has gone through a lot with fans. His life started because Hideo Kojima wanted the series to appeal to high school girls (seriously). The famous tale goes that Hideo was preparing several invited focus groups to look at MGS2, one of which was a bunch of school girls. When asked if they’d play MGS2, they said no because they didn’t play as an ugly, old guy. From this point on, Hideo Kojima pretty much hated Solid Snake and sought to replace him. So without any real foreshadowing, you go from playing Solid Snake partway to Raiden for a majority of MGS2. This switch was supposed to continue on in future MGS games, but the fans wanted Snake. Fans really hated Raiden, and the fact that the character was very annoying didn’t help either.
MGS4 did a lot to fix Raiden, and earned a lot of respect among fans. He had grown up significantly, and had a lone wolf hero persona to him. They also made him the most powerful character in the history of Metal Gear. The moves that cyborg Raiden would do in the cut scenes of MGS4 are some of the most memorable scenes in it. He did everything from stop a nuclear sub with his body to twirling two Gekkos with his legs. Raiden had become a badass. He was so badass that he presented the only flaw I saw in MGS4: I wanted to play as Raiden but it was not meant to be.
We finally get to satisfy that curiosity in Metal Gear Rising, but right off the bat a lot are upset about this. Rising, loaded with crazy action not unlike what you find in Devil May Cry or Bayonetta, has upset many fans. Metal Gear has always been about stealth, so why the change? I think it’s important to remember that Snake isn’t starring in this one. Due to the change of characters, a change in game play is necessary. Snake and Raiden are pretty much Batman and Superman now. Snake uses stealth to beat his enemies because he has to, much like Batman. Raiden is now the Superman of the two, so him hiding from and sneaking by enemies makes no sense. After all, this is the same guy who can now shoulder throw a Metal Gear Ray 100 feet into the air and can slice an enemy into a trillion pieces in less then a minute. It would be silly to have him hiding in boxes from enemies.
As for Raiden becoming too powerful, I don’t see too much difference in how he was from MGS4 to the trailer I saw at the VGA’s. That’s who he is now — a BMF. Some people may not accept this because they missed that transition. Raiden was a wet blanket in MGS2 and some might be rolling their eyes at Kojima just saying “Well … now he’s an ass kicker!” I can respect those who feel that way. This was a pretty intense change in character, one that we weren’t allowed to see. I’m hoping MGR addresses this and gives us that backstory. Depending on how well it comes off, people may finally start jumping on the Raiden bandwagon.
There is one important fact to remember: The game coming out is called Metal Gear Rising, not Metal Gear Solid. Yes, it’s in the same universe, but it’s won’t share the same focus as MGS. Instead of stealth, now we have over-the-top action done by Platinum Games, people who do amazing work in this genre. In fact, I’m really happy for this company as I believe this will finally put them on the map. MGR will be a kick-ass roller coaster, and I cannot wait to ride it.
Now isn’t this essentially what we wanted in the first place with Raiden? I didn’t want him starring in an MGS game, but MGR is fine by me. And after seeing him in MGS4, I wanted the chance to play as him and get crazy. Metal Gear Rising solves both issues and I cannot wait. The newfound series, while just a little bit over-the-top, could find its place in the Metal Gear universe. I think we’re going to be just fine; the series has yet to let to let me down, and if others have some faith I believe Metal Gear Rising will deliver.