[Interview] An interview with Metal Gear Rising's lead producer Yuji Korekado
While at Gamescom, I and two other journalists got the chance to sit down with Yuji Korekado, producer of Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance and ask him a few questions about the upcoming action spin-off to one of the most revered franchises of all time.
While Hideo Kojima was never afraid to experiment, the core concept of the Metal Gear experience has always been stealth. With Rising, this was all dropkicked out the window. When asked about how the idea for the spin-off came about, Korekado explained that they wanted to utilize "elements of the Metal Gear world in a game that isn't created by Kojima. (...) The team wanted to create a different game using Raiden, who's a cyborg, who has this high-frequency blade that pretty much cuts through anything. That was the beginning of the project. (...) The whole point of it was (...) using all this appeal that this character Raiden had, making an action game, making a modern continuation of the series, a linear next step for this series."
Originally intended as a prequel explaining how Raiden turned into the cybernetic machine of asskickery that he is now, Rising has now been reworked as a sequel taking place after the events of Metal Gear Solid 4. When asked about whether we will learn about his transformation anyway, Korekado explained: "When we started working with Platinum Games their director said 'well, we're gonna make an action game and we want to make it crazy, we have all these random elements that we want to put in here.' In order to do that, it's a better fit to have a story that has more freedom instead of a story that has a set beginning and a set ending. This was the reason he wanted to move the story after MGS4. As to why Raiden became a cyborg, that's a story that won't be told in this game."
The MGS games have always been full of jokes, secrets and easter eggs like the erotic magazines, hidden Yoshi dolls and other details and I was wondering if we could expect something similar in Rising. And yes, apparently we can. "The director for this game at Platinum Games (Kenji Saito) is a huge fan of the series, he understands the Metal Gear series really well. It's not like we have made a specific request that we want this kind of elements in the game but he knows the game and the series and he thinks these elements are very important so he has been putting a lot of these into the game." Woohoo!
This isn't the first time that Kojima Productions has teamed up with another developer as they've already worked with Mercury Steam to reboot Konami's Castlevania franchise in 2010. The decision to team up with Platinum Games this time around came from Kojima himself. He said: "A crucial element to this game is the Katana, so we have to work with a Japanese developer." When they started looking for a Japanese company that makes great action games, the choice was easy: "Of course Platinum Games has all these games like Vanquish and Bayonetta, so we wanted to work with them. When we asked them if they'd be willing to work with us they fortunately agreed to it." While teaming up with someone else almost inevitably leads to conflict, Platinum Games knew what they were doing for the most part: "As far as game design goes (...) we have almost never rejected their ideas, because they understand the story very well so they didn't insert elements such as Raiden cutting humans or Raiden doing terrible things. Although we have gotten some requests that may affect the composition of the world of MGR, like having past characters...of those kind of requests we have rejected quite a few."
When a character dies in a Metal Gear game, history has shown that there's a good chance of them coming back in cyborg-Ninja form. If you've checked out the Gamescom trailer you'll have noticed that Raiden is going to have a K-9 companion in Rising that (apparently) shares some similarities to Grey Fox...could there be a connection? "No, there's no connection." Aw. However, both the dog and another cyborg Ninja named Sam will play a crucial role in the story.
In Metal Gear Solid 2, Kojima forced players into the boots of Raiden so that he could elevate Snake into the status of a legendary hero that we'd look up to. Now, Raiden is obviously more powerful than Snake's ever been and I wanted to know if this plays into the narrative of Rising somehow. "Metal Gear Rising takes place after the events in Metal Gear Solid 4, so this is no longer the Raiden that was young and had doubts about everything. On the contrary, he has this experience of having fought alongside Snake and other characters and he is now a grown-up man - in a way, he's reborn. He's now this grown-up character, a hero on his own. You will be able to see all these abilities he has as a result of all this history that he has."
When he's not slicing Gekkos into fun-sized chunks, Raiden is a real family man. This is "of course mentioned throughout the story" but apparently it won't be as big a plot device as one might think: "To be able to provide support for them, he chooses a job where he can use all his skills, his abilities and experience that he has, and that's why he joins a PMC (Private Military Company)." He does try to stay out of the line of fire however, at least for as long as he can. "Working security for VIPs an incident occurs towards the beginning of the game that pretty much forces Raiden to go back to the battlefield. Now, how his family comes into play with this...we honestly aren't thinking too much into that."
Looking at the clock, I noticed time was running out so I jumped into action and asked the ultimate question: Will the cardboard box be in the game? Korekado: "Yes. (laughs) Their use might be slightly different from what we've seen so far, but yes, there are a lot of cardboard boxes in the game."
As was to be expected, Snake will not make an appearance in the game. However, "for fans of the series we have plans of having specific details, elements and main characters fans of the series will be able to recognize."
Challenge accepted, Korekado-san.
Shoutout to Peter Brown and Johnny Chiodini who sat with me through this interview. Also, special thanks to Yuji Korekado, Jay Boor and Ken Hashimoto!