Yuji Korekado, the producer who led the Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance project on the Kojima Productions side, has always spoken about the "frustration" he felt when KojiPro wasn't able to complete the project on their own, instead tapping Platinum Games to help them out. If it was frustrating for Korekado, imagine how rough it was for Etsu Tamari, chief story writer for both Revengeance and the original Metal Gear Solid Rising, originally a completely different tale.
As Tamari told Famitsu magazine this week, the original Rising was set in between Metal Gear Solid 2 and MGS4. "It was a comparatively darker game than the one we have now," he said. "one where you'd be rescuing Sunny from the hands of the Patriots. The start and end of the tale are already set in stone, of course, so it was quite difficult to figure out how to get an engaging story going within those limitations. I came up with an outline I was satisfied with in the end, but sadly it wound up being shelved."
What necessitated the move to the post-MGS4 era for Revengeance? "The original project plan from Kenji Saito [director at Platinum] changed the Rising story just a bit to match with the gameplay," Tamari explained. "That wound up making the plotline fall apart in many places, though, so I thought it'd be more fun to just have it set after MGS4. I didn't want to mess around with the old story too much anyway, because I felt there was no other way it could be done. So I talked this over with Saito and we wound up going with this route. We didn't have much leeway timewise, but it proceeded along surprisingly well. I'd like to see the old story get used somewhere, but it now contradicts what we did with Revengeance in places, so it'll need to be revised."
Tamari then spent the next few months commuting between KojiPro in Tokyo and Platinum Games headquarters in Osaka, exchanging ideas and scrambling to get all the dialogue and codec text written in time. "It was occasionally tough to get the story to make sense within the gameplay," he admitted. "For example, you were originally allowed to collect IDs from the left hands of all the cyborgs in the game. That got cut down to only certain enemies, so that required some rewrites. The scene with Doktor at the beginning has him emphasizing how important it is for Raiden to gather left hands for him, but now that that's been deemphasized, he comes off as some sort of demented arm collector a little, doesn't he?"
Although a few bits and bobs from the original Rising remain in Revengeance (including the Boris character and several of the Unmanned Gear foes), most of the game is completely new, post-Platinum content. "There's a massive amount of codec text, so I asked Korekado for more staff at first," Tamari recalled. "Hideo Kojima heard about this and he told Korekado 'If he can't do it by himself, then don't worry about doing it at all'. So when I heard that, I kind of had no other choice! I did it in the end, and I'm glad I did, because now there's tons of stuff in the codecs that didn't make it into the final game."
With Revengeance out worldwide, the next thing gamers have to look forward to is the two DLC missions Konami has in store down the line-one featuring in-game foe Jetstream Sam, and the other starring Blade Wolf, Raiden's nemesis-turned-ally. "We don't directly explain why Sam works with Desperado in the main story," said Tamari, "so that content goes a little bit more into detail on it. The Blade Wolf substory depicts a mission it's running with Mistral before the encounter with Raiden. Both of them serve as prequels to their roles in the main game."
(On the subject of Blade Wolf, Tamari also revealed his motivation for getting that character into Revengeance: "I told people that a cyborg needs a canine partner, and I stood really firm on that! I had trouble figuring out what sort of position it would take in the game, and eventually I came up with the idea that Raiden would take over the 'teacher' role for Blade Wolf, the way that Snake was his mentor in MGS2.")
Is Tamari as frustrated as Korekado evidently was with how the Revengeance project turned out? Not really, by the sound of things. "There is some frustration in the end that we couldn't complete this with KojiPro alone," he replied, "but I think I've been able to get my own sort of revenge with the content in the final game. If a lot of people want to see what happens to Raiden beyond this game, I'd love a chance to respond to that."