“I am Jack’s Revenge” or: How I “got” Revengeance and learned to “Have Some Fun!”
By Ravi Singh, Posted on December 18, 2011
When the trailer for what was once Metal Gear Solid: Rising was leaked hours before it’s debut at the Spike TV Video Game Awards 2011, fans were in disbelief. Many even wondered if the trailer was actually fake, as if the Metal Gear fan community is dedicated enough to be able to fake what was shown in the trailers. When it was revealed that, yeah, the professional trailer was indeed the work of professionals such as Kojima Productions and—surprise!—PlatinumGames, many fans were livid. It was very common to see comments such as "Metal Gear is dead," or "Kojima has jumped the shark." To these fans I ask, have you been been paying attention to the series at all in the past few years?
I feel some empathy in that I know exactly how you feel. The thing is, I felt that way when Metal Gear Solid: Rising was revealed, especially with the E3 2010 trailer which is now being treated as a martyr by you people for some reason. Why? What the fuck was it about that trailer that is acceptable in comparison to the new one? Is it the cutting? No, that is still here. Is it the stealth? Oh wait, there was not any stealth shown at all. The only major difference I can concede is the art direction and music. I think the cheesy hair metal music is actually quite fitting, but I will get to that later. I agree that the art direction seemed to have been better before than now even though Yoji Shinkawa is still involved. However, this was not the result of PlatinumGames busting into Kojima Productions Headquarters and setting the place on fire as some fans make it out to be. No, this was a cost-benefit analysis on how the game would flow according to Hideo Kojima.
Ladies and gentlemen, this is the official concept behind Metal Gear Solid: Rising. Why were you expecting something else?
These issues with Metal Gear Solid: Rising are not a surprise to me at all because it was clear from the way it was promoted that Kojima Productions were not making a coherent game. I am sorry to break the news to you but you cannot have a game where you can just slice your way through fast paced action but with the ability, if you want, to go slow and use stealth. The enabling of going batshit crazy ninja eliminates any incentive to play stealthfully. Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots incorporated the most action gameplay into the Metal Gear formula than any of the main series that has been released so far along with an iTunes-like interface to purchase weapons and ammunition on-the-fly, but Kojima Productions had to incorporate the Psyche bar to offset this. Adding a Psyche bar to a game specifically designed to allow players be able to control a cyborg Ninja who can break dance while obliterating Metal Gear Gekkos will just hinder the game’s purpose as it was that exact scene that inspired the entire game in the first place.
Likewise, having the option to utilize pure violent action in a stealth game cripples the stealth element as the game must become far more forgiving in aspects such as how many dead bodies are left behind along with all the blood and noise associated with killing. Of course, how sneaking even worked seems to signal that it was definitely an afterthought. For fuck’s sake, they changed "Tactical Espionage Action" to "Lightning Bolt Action!" They said that that the game had "hunting stealth" gameplay, but when it comes to it, that was just a clever way of saying "it’s really easy to remain undetected while you go around cutting people’s limbs off left and right." The entire goal of being stealthy is to remain undetected. This requires patience, strategy, and most importantly, avoiding confrontation. Naturally, this is not how one would make a game based on Raiden in Guns of the Patriots.
Then there is the cutting thing. It is definitely a cool concept. You know what ruins it? Typical Metal Gear gameplay. I mean, what better way than to more or less make your presence be known than to cut something—anything—in the environment? As an action game, this concept works. As a stealth game, it seems very strange. Don’t say that it did work when the game was called Metal Gear Solid: Rising because, guess what, it did not work. That was why they cancelled it in the first place.
Another thing that has me completely flabbergasted are the people who actually wanted an interquel between Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty and Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots and are upset that Revengeance will take place after Guns of the Patriots. These people wanted them to answer more questions than Guns of the Patriots already painfully did! I already explained why this sort of reasoning is flawed and how storytelling simply for the sake of explaining everything tainted the otherwise fun experience Guns of the Patriots was, so instead let me ponder what you people were expecting from this. The writer (who remains as Head Writer in the Revengeance credits) is Etsu Tamari, one of the writers of the Metal Gear Solid 4 Database. The Database mentions events concerning Raiden which took place between 2009 and 2014. You want to know what the story was for the now-canned Metal Gear Solid: Rising? Here you go.
Raiden began living together with Rosemary, but the tragic memories of his days a child soldier started to resurface, causing tension in their relationship and leading him to leave her.
Raiden learned that Olga’s daughter, Sunny, was being held in Area 51.
He successfully rescued Sunny with the help of the anti-Patriots resistance group, the Paradise Lost Army.
After hearing of Rosemary’s miscarriage and subsequent remarriage to Roy Campbell, Raiden became despondent. He left Sunny in the care of Hal Emmerich and Solid Snake, then began work on retrieving Big Boss’s remains from the Patriots for the Paradise Lost Army, leading to his capture.
As a prisoner, the Patriots used Raiden as a subject for experiments in exoskeletal enhancement surgery. Raiden was treated as a test subject in the Patriots’ research into creating the perfect soldier, just as Gray Fox had been made into the enhanced and heavily drugged Cyborg Ninja before him.
With help from the Paradise Lost Army, Raiden managed to escape his captivity. After undergoing surgery to clear his body of nanomachines, he was successful in reclaiming Big Boss’s remains from the Patriots. The enhancements implanted throughout Raiden’s body, however, were too severe to allow him to live again as a normal human. He elected to disappear from the life of his fiancé, Rosemary.
Left to wander the earth, Raiden studied scouting techniques under a Native American shaman living in Alaska, also learning to hunt.
Upon receiving orders from Big Mama to assist Solid Snake and lead him to the Paradise Lost Army, Raiden set out into battle once more.
Seriously guys? You wanted this? Let’s even assume that this is actually fucking grade A material for you guys and that watching Raiden receiving a message about helping Snake out in South America is the next best thing to Big Boss realizing the truth of his actions at the grave of the women he loved. How would you have looked forward to this being turned into a game? You know the story. Hell, we already covered most of this shit about Rosemary and Big Boss already in Guns of the Patriots. Yeah, they would have probably thrown in new characters and add filler dialogue (lots of it) to make these mere sentences hold enough substance for an entire game, but there is little room for them to do much of anything. Even Tamari agreed with this.
However, even though distancing the story from existing canon is already good enough to warrant the change, the fact of the matter remains that we already know what fucking happens! There is no point to making a game out of this! In fact, this adds to the Metal Gear Sequel Cycle I explained in The Argument For a Freer Canon by forcing the story to be able to fit between to well established installments to the series. A lot of unnecessary additions would have been made at the expense of keeping the canon consistent. In short: Rising would not have been some sort of missing puzzle piece giving us a complete picture. It would have been a a stickynote with crudely made macaroni art that someone stuck to an already established, well-rounded, fictional universe.
Psh, I see shit like this happen every morning on the drive to work. Hahaha I hate it when people cut me off, right fellas?
The one thing I will definitely never understand is the renewed hatred for Raiden that was not as prevalent when the game was just Metal Gear Solid: Rising. Fucking IGN of all places had an editorial posted the day after the Revengeance trailer was released titled "Opinion: Revengeance Will Ruin Metal Gear Solid." The case made against Revengeance by the editorial’s author Richard George is pretty flawed. In short, Ninja Raiden makes Solid Snake look weak in comparison. Let’s just pretend the scene with Gray Fox and Metal Gear REX in Metal Gear Solid does not count since Fox dies anyways (with a lot of effort on Liquid’s part to get through a suit made from technology over a decade prior to when Revengeance takes place). Where was George when Raiden used his entire body to stop Outer Haven from crashing into Old Snake during Guns of the Patriots?
Oh, of course, the time when Raiden was a representative of the player and deliberately made to elevate the prestige of Solid Snake he is "an irritating failure," but when he himself is elevated into a "superhero" (which his son, "Little John," actually refers to him as in the ending of Guns of the Patriots) it’s acceptable. Well okay, he admits that even Raiden in Guns of the Patriots was a bit much and was only "cool" as a secondary character. This still contradicts his point about making Snake look bad, but I will ignore that and ask why this opinionated article was not written over a year ago after the E3 2010 trailer for Metal Gear Solid: Rising was released?
What? No. You cannot tell me that the anything Raiden did in the E3 2010 trailer outside of cutting watermelon could actually be "felt like it could somehow be real." Unless Otacon’s "Japanese animes" are based in reality as well, I would say it was still pretty bizarre and cartoonish. If you anime nerds take offense to that, should I use "animeish"? Yeah that sounds about right. The thing is, the cyborg ninjas of the Metal Gear fictional universe were never intended to be realistic. Otacon’s line about "Japanese animes" was aimed at Gray Fox and Little John’s about superhero was aimed at Raiden. In short, the cyborg ninja characters in the Metal Gear series are very much anime superheroes.
Maybe Revengeance does make it too obvious, but the fact of the matter is that the ninjas in the Metal Gear series have always been powerful beings. Mad Jackyl in his piece The Ninja As A Deus Ex Machina Phenomena also argues that they have actually played a mythical god-like role in that they appear wherever it becomes convenient even though it at times seems impractical. By this criteria, not even Revengeance fulfills the role due to the very fact that the player is assuming the role of the cyborg ninja himself!
I am sure George means well and is simply passionate on his views on Solid Snake being an idolized fictional character, but I bring his article up because I feel that it demonstrates my main argument. Newfound negative feedback among Metal Hear fans towards Revengeance is generally a result of some sort of mild amnesia regarding the series’ history. Now if the outrage is over this even being a Metal Gear game, fine, you got a point. They could have, and should have, made a ninja game without needing to bring Metal Gear into it. They were able to create Zone of the Enders, a fucking robot action series, without resorting to using Metal Gears!!! Yet to make a ninja game they cannot stay away from using an existing in-game universe? This along with the fact that the series was meant to end in 2001, then 2004, then 2008 means that things are getting ridiculous. I would love the series to be officially over. It won’t happen though. So my other ideal is that they end the existing canon and thus create a series reboot or create alternative sequels.
The "reboot" of Rising actually allows Konami to make money from their property without ruining the existing series. I know it sounds silly and the fact that Revengeance could still be considered canon as this has not been refuted does put some dents in my argument, but even with that it does not seem like they are taking this shit seriously. Whenever people ask why Raiden is a cyborg ninja again, why the war economy returned or any other questions like that with regards to Revengeance I want to ask them if they actually watched the trailer. I mean, holy shit. Look at this.
It's Raiden fighting Metal Gear RAY except RAY has a sword as a tail but it is okay because Raiden can counter this using his sword in what will obviously be a quick time event, and then jump on it to do more quick time events and destroy it in a cutscene where the camera zooms in on his eye while he squints. Yoji Shinkawa was unsurprisngly "surprised" by this. It’s not enough to just watch though. You need to listen too. That music. Like I said earlier, it fits Revengeance much like a laugh track fits family sitcom series. As with the music, the dialogue that was in the trailer makes this worthy enough to be considered a grindhouse style spin-off of a series that otherwise does take itself seriously:
"Ha! Too easy!"
"My sword is a tool of justice!"
"Here’s what happens when you bring a tool to a sword fight!"
"REVENGE WITH A VENGEANCE!"
"I think it’s time for Jack… TO LET ER RIP!"
Look, if this was a remake of an existing title, Metal Gear Solid 5, even Metal Gear Solid: Rising, I would be irritated too. For those of you who are angered by Revengeance but never understood why people like me did not like the cutscenes in Metal Gear Solid: The Twin Snakes, now you kind of have an idea why. However, unlike The Twin Snakes, which was a reimaging of a beloved classic, this is a purely a spin-off. It takes place after Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots, but does that even mean anything? Metal Gear: Ghost Babel took place after the first Metal Gear and it ended up being an excellent non-canon title.
Of course Ghost Babel still played like a Metal Gear title. However, the argument that Revengeance‘s purely action based gameplay is a detriment to the series is a sign of pure ignorance on the release history of the series. The Metal Gear Acid titles may have involved stealth, but they were card-based. I don’t care what anybody fucking says, but none of the Metal Gear Online titles are anywhere close to being stealthy. Actually, the Metal Gear Online in Metal Gear Solid 3: Subsistence did have some stealth when it came to the SNEAKING MISSION mode, where one player played as Snake and had to get the Microfilm. However, the Sneaking Mission mode in Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots‘ Metal Gear Online was a glorified Team Deathmatch. This illustration by drdrethechronic depicts the minor differences between Team Deathmatch and Sneaking Mission quite well.
If Metal Gear Online is still "Metal Gear" enough what about this… thing…
I am not even sure what it is. It’s a mobile phone game in Japan and I think it’s called Sallaryman: Metal Gear Solid 4. Too obscure and Japanese? What about the fucking Metal Gear Solid novels?! Have you read either of them? Here are a few samples.
Then there is the recently released Metal Gear Solid branded Risk board game. Come on guys. What, this sort of thing doesn’t count because you are only complaining about Metal Gear video games? What about Metal Gear Solid: Touch then? Where were you guys when that came out? The game was essentially a shooting gallery for iOS devices with a Guns of the Patriots theme. You want my opinion? The game is good. No. It’s great. Well it was great when they called it Duck Hunt."
Back in the day I bitched at Konami for promoting this as a Metal Gear Solid game in a way that seems almost as if Guns of the Patriots itself was ported to iOS. I still stand by this point and once again, the fact that they are not creating a new intellectual property for this ninja game is disappointing. It is, in fact, a sign of what the video game industry is today. With that said, unlike Touch, Konami is being completely honest with Revengeance. While Metal Gear Solid: Rising‘s producer Shigenobu Matsuyama was stepping on egg shells trying to explain how his canon game was not going to involve the canon, or how hardcore fans and newcomers can play it however they want, Kojima Productions is collaborating with a development studio known for making games where you go around killing things. They admitted it’s a full action title with no apologies. They changed the name of the game from Metal Gear Solid: Rising to Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance. They have set the story in a time after events which have already taken place, providing the writers a blank canvas to make their pop fiction 1990s action story on.
I am not saying to love it. It could very well be mediocre. I would actually recommend remaining skeptical until the game is finally released. What I am saying is that the only fans who have a genuine complaint are the ones who have always questioned the announcements of unnecessary sequels and spin-offs. Their argument remains consistent. The rest seem like there is a loosely drawn line somewhere and somehow Revengeance crossed it, while other titles managed to just sneak by undetected. This is especially strange for those who were fine, even excited, by Metal Gear Solid: Rising. Rising was announced as a spin-off that strays from the traditional Metal Gear formula. Revengeance does exactly that, except it has conviction in it’s goal and thus allows the game to be a fun action title, period. Outside of an official confirmation that it is non-canon or an alternative sequel, it is the best alternative to ending the canon for good. If its not good enough then more power to you, but if you actually do want more installments to the canon yet object to this, I do not see why. They're still going to make more Metal Gear games. I know it. You know it. Hideo Kojima knows it.