Metal Gear Solid is a series that’s always made it a point to have a thematic base. Whether it’s the “gene-meme-scene” motifs that were the nuclei of the first three MGS titles, MGS4’s “sense” theme, or just the overarching messages tied to the series throughout, Metal Gear has arguably never been without a centralized idea of some kind.
While this is almost entirely due to the underlying philosophies series creator Hideo Kojima has injected into his signature stealth franchise, other Metal Gear titles aren’t necessarily immune to this line of reasoning. Metal Gear Solid: Rising is no exception to this. Though it stars the exoskeleton-sporting Raiden rather than Snake and isn’t being directed by Kojima himself, Rising’s still has a thematic base: the power of cutting. The cutting in question is, of course, how you choose to use Raiden’s blade, the fulcrum around which Rising’s mechanics operate. First revealed earlier this year at E3, Rising’s gameplay looks to be vastly different from what we expect of a typical Metal Gear experience. ; Rather than sneaking around, its design revolves around using Raiden’s sword to cut pretty much whatever you want within the game (though the game’s director, Mineshi Kimura, has assured fans a different kind of stealth will still be utilized throughout the game). Rising even trades the series’ “Tactical Espionage Action” tagline for “Lightning Bolt Action,” though the differentiation has yet to be touched on by Kojima Productions.
Still, Raiden’s first entirely solo outing is carving its own unique identity in the Metal Gear universe. The E3 trailer, which featured the cybernetically-enhanced ninja in his MGS4-era suit, showcased Raiden hewing all manner of enemies and objects into various states of destruction and dismemberment. Here’s the kicker: every cut you make has a fully adjustable trajectory and angle, meaning you can essentially use Raiden’s sword to cut as much or as little of something as you want, from walls and vehicles to tables and, yes, even limbs. A particularly memorable moment in the trailer showed Raiden slicing an enemy in two, then changing the angle diagonally to further cut a smaller chunk out of the poor guy’s body, with the physics reacting accordingly. Needless to say, Rising’s real-time mechanics are impressive to say the least. Kimura himself took the stage Wednesday at Microsoft’s TGS press conference to further demonstrate how the cutting mechanic works.
Though the demo Kimura controlled was more of a tech demo rather than actual gameplay, Rising’s engine is looking remarkably good. As a proprietary engine designed from the ground up for the new game, the graphics look similar (if slightly upgraded) to MGS4, but the real showstopper is the physics incorporated into the gameplay. Kimura started out demonstrating the precision accuracy of Raiden’s blade by slicing off slivers from a few bowling pins; the angle of Raiden’s blade, first seen in Rising’s E3 trailer and measured by a light blue curve that adjusts in real-time, is now complemented by a red line running through the center of the blue curve. As you might guess, the red line is the exact cutting line each slice of Raiden’s blade makes, so you can plan your cuts to pinpoint accuracy. After shaving the sides from the pins, Kimura re-aligned Raiden’s aim horizontally, chopping the tops off the remaining pins, which fell down afterward. Interestingly, the table itself wasn’t cut when Raiden was cutting vertically, perhaps you might be able to control how hard you want to want to make each cut, though details on how the controls work remain anyone’s guess for now.
Kojima and company always manage to throw in some humor into their trailers as well as their final products, and with Rising’s E3 trailer, the funny bits came from Raiden slicing watermelons at the end. Kimura also did this during Microsoft’s press conference, slicing one in half, then again into quarters. It was also revealed the Kogeko, or Dwarf Gekko (“Ko” is Japanese for baby), those creepy three-armed recon bots from MGS4, will also play some role in Rising. The dwarf gekko in the demo was used not just to demonstrate more advanced cutting techniques but also for comic relief; Kimura first sliced a watermelon in half while the dwarf gekko spun it on one finger, then cut a couple of bowling pins the scary little guy was juggling in mid-air, which the director said was “very difficult.” The demo session ended with the dwarf gekko balancing another on top of it, which Kimura sliced in two with a vertical cut downward. The technique, called a “white blade cut,” had a delayed response before the top dwarf gekko was cut in half (think untold numbers of anime with swordplay), while the original clapped at Raiden’s technique before also being comically split in two.
At the moment, not a whole lot else is known about Rising, although we do know the game is essentially a sequel to MGS2 and takes place between it and MGS4. Though nothing has been confirmed yet, it could detail the time when Raiden was kidnapped by the Patriots and given his cybernetic exoskeleton, similar to Grey Fox and Olga’s in the original MGS and MGS2, respectively. Kimura has also said Raiden will still use stealth in the game, though it will be a specialized brand that takes advantage of Raiden’s acrobatics and ninja-like abilities. Players should also expect to use Raiden’s subweapons in gameplay, and he can steal the health “essence” of cybernetic enemies. Essentially Kimura wants to create an MGS title that allows you to reach the level of action and acrobatics Raiden displayed in MGS4, a more than promising idea. In true Metal Gear fashion, Raiden’s ability to cut also comes with moral quandaries; though it will be tempting to slice up everything in sight, it will be entirely possible to play through the game without killing a single living enemy (cybernetic foes may or may not count for this). The game may even reward players for exercising restraint. Whatever the case, Rising is shaping up to be a promising new entry in the series. No release date has been given for the game, but if it hits before mid-next year, we’ll be surprised. Check back for more info on Rising as it becomes available.