Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance, due out next week worldwide, has a long, convoluted and nearly disastrous story behind it. Originally announced as Metal Gear Solid: Rising at E3 2010, the title began as an in-house Kojima Productions project and was meant to bridge the story gap between Metal Gear Solid 2 and MGS4. Things changed once the team found themselves face-to-face with development hell in late 2010.
"In the end, I think it's because we just couldn't nail down the game's core," said KojiPro producer Yuji Korekado when Famitsu asked him in this week's issue why the original Metal Gear Solid: Rising got canned. "We spent a long time within Kojima Productions making the game, and there were some aspects of it that were fun, but by the end of it, all we had was a big team and no really common image shared among everyone in it. We were at a dead end. That's something [studio head Hideo] Kojima has experienced several times before, and he concluded that we probably wouldn't finish at all if this continued."
Another part of the problem, according to Korekado, was that the staff was too bound by their own conventional wisdom. "Kojima told us to 'make it any way you like,'" he explained, "but I think we all had these preconceptions in our minds about what Metal Gear should be like. That wound up shackling us as we tried to make it."
So, in early 2011, Kojima rebooted the project alongside new partner Platinum Games. Were there any other candidate studios KojiPro negotiated with? "I think there probably weren't," Korekado said. "One day, Kojima suggested to me 'Why don't we ask Platinum about this?' I responded 'Well, that'd be awesome if we could partner with them, but I doubt they'd say yes to it.' So some time passed, and then he was like 'Get a presentation ready for tomorrow.'"
Despite his enthusiasm at the concept, Korekado was less than thrilled to hear this news. "To be frank, it was frustrating," he said. "I mean, here I was doing a presentation all about this thing that we couldn't finish ourselves. What's more, we were presenting to an outfit that had what we didn't and would be perfect for leaving development duties to. With that frustration, though, there was also this new strength that, no matter what role I'm playing now, I had to get this project finished."
Platinum, and producer Atsushi Inaba, wound up giving the nod, in part because KojiPro agreed to be almost totally hands-off with the game. "In terms of gameplay, there generally weren't any [requests from KojiPro]," Korekado recalled. "We just said 'do what you like'. If they didn't think it was needed, we really didn't mind, even if they got rid of the ability to freely slice through enemies. Instead of that, we did carefully supervise things like the story, the cutscene direction, and the settings. That, and we gave a deadline. It was pretty rough schedule, to be honest, but we got it done with hardly any delays. For a title of this size, even if we had an archetype to work with, it was developed astonishingly quickly."
What were Korekado's impressions of working alongside Platinum? "My first impression of them was that they're a lot like how Kojima Productions was before it went large-scale," he replied. "I'm talking about the care they put into games, and how they sort of take ideas and just go nuts with them; it's very similar. As a partner, what I liked about them is that, even if we disagreed on something, we'd always listen to each other and accept it if we were able to fully understand it. That helped us understand each other a lot more deeply than if we were the only ones talking."
Thus, Revengeance found its way to completion, with Famitsu already raving about it in their review pages. Does Korekado still feel "frustrated" now? "I think the frustration that we weren't able to get it done with our own hands is going to stay with me for the rest of my life," he replied. "Still, MGR is a game that couldn't have happened without this collaboration. That's something which makes me happy, but personally, there is this drive in me to give it another try sometime."