Team Metal Gear Solid Rising Interviewed
The producer and director discuss the core mechanics of the new PS3 and Xbox 360 MGS game.
The Metal Gear Solid Rising gameplay trailer that debuted at Microsoft's Xbox 360 E3 press conference was sweet and all, but it's a bit difficult to grasp what's going on without some textual details to back up the action. For that, we turn to Famitsu, which scored an interview with the game's development staff in this week's issue.
Hideo Kojima is usually the one fielding questions whenever a new Metal Gear game is in the spotlight. Not this time, though. Instead of Kojima, who's serving as Rising's executive producer, Famitsu quizzed producer Shigenobu Matsuyama and director Mineshi Kimura. Kimura has worked on past MGS titles, serving as CG designer. Matsuyama previously worked on such titles as arcade gun shooting game The Police Officer.
The two page interview with the developers is packed with words like "katana" and "slash." As you might have guessed from the E3 trailer, slash mechanics are a key concept for the game. You can make Raiden do quite a bit with his sword. One example is to chop up enemies and objects repeatedly after having floated them up into the air. Matsuyama described this as being similar to something that he called "ball lifting."
One of the main concepts of the game is "free slicing." They've made it so that by changing the angles of your sword slashes, you end up slashing at different areas.
Unfortunately, the two didn't go into details about how those precise slashes are made. However, precision slashing does seem to be a major part of the game, as it contributes to strategy.
First, some background story is in order. Rising takes place between Metal Gear Solid 2 and Metal Gear Solid 4. Famitsu pointed out that at this point in the series' chronology, Raiden has begun a change to cyborg form, which is how he's decpited in MGS4. However, Matsyama noted, the Raiden we see in Rising looks markedly different from the Raiden we see in MGS4. Rising will clue us in on the events that made Raiden change from is Rising self to his MGS4 self.
As a cyborg, Raiden needs power. And the E3 trailer showed one way he gets his juice -- by sucking up the energy from fallen cyborg foes.
This is where the strategy of your slashes comes into play. When you fight a cyborg or mech foe, you'll end up with different things for Raiden to suck up depending on where you slash. You'll need to be strategic in the kinds of slashes you make.
Outside of slashing away at cyborg troops, you can also slash more complex objects, like cars for instance. Matsuyama explained that giving the player the ability to do this required that they render the innards of objects, even modeling areas they'd usually not model.
You can also chop up environmental objects like walls and pillars. This does not work for everything in the environment, though, as Kimura noted that while their program would allow for it, giving such freedom would end up making the game hard to play. This is why they're imposing a few limitations on the player.
The game isn't all hack and slash action, though. One of the first things Matsuyama cleared up in the interview is a misconception some might have had from the E3 trailer. There's more to the game than just fighting, he said. In fact, you're free to play like a more conventional Metal Gear Solid game, advancing stealthily. Those who are more confident in their action skills, however, can choose to charge right in at enemy groups.
Even those who do take a more conventional stealth approach to the game will find some differences from past Metal Gear games. Explained Matsuyama, one goal for the game was to make an MGS of different form from past titles. Those who try to play the stealth way will find that Raiden has a certain amount of speed to him.
Even though stealth is in still in there, the game's production placed a focus on katana-based battles. Famitsu asked if this means that you'll always combat as a katana-wielding Raiden, but Kimura would only respond that he cannot share details on the game's story. He was willing to say that, from a gameplay system perspective, they're making the game with the idea of putting the katana-based battles as the focus while still still retaining the conventional stealth on the side.
All the sword play and, as shown in the trailer, decapitation brings up a touchy area in Japan, as human decapitation is usually censored from games. During the interview, Matsuyama brought up some of the moral issues brought on by the game's mechanics.
You're actually not just fighting cyborgs and mechanical foes in Rising. You'll also find human foes. You are free to slash away at these foes. However, Matsuyama did note that they're keeing in mind the difference between chopping up a cyborg and chopping up a human.
One of the fundamental ideas of the game, said Kimura, is to not endorse mindless killing, and to extol the virtues of disabling enemies rather than killing them. This is similar to the conventional Metal Gear games, he noted. They wanted to try out a number of new things with Rising, but this is one area they wanted to keep unchanged.
Getting more specific with gameplay, Kimura said that there would be some "no kill" elements contained within the gameplay systems.
As an example of how some of these moral elements might work into the game, Famitsu described a situation where you end up facing off not against a cyborg, but against a human soldier. You'll have to decide whether to get past the soldier by killing him, or to evade the soldier by using your katana to carve a path through the road.