Step aside, Old Snake, a new kid is in town. Armour-clad, with nine inch heels and flowing, peroxide locks; this time, Raiden means business.
A victim of fan backlash after stealing Snake’s spotlight in Metal Gear Solid 2, only to return in MGS4, as a badass cyborg ninja. All of a sudden, controlling the rebranded tin can seemed like a tantalising prospect, especially after seeing him massacre a group of soldiers without the luxury of a sword arm.
It’s no secret that the game underwent some difficulties during development, originally intended to have more of a stealth orientation and be developed in-house at Konami. The studio struggled to integrate swordplay into the game, and it seemed the project was lacking direction.
In stepped Platinum Games, masters of the hack and slash genre, and heralded as one of the best studios in the west of Hawai’i. They saved the project from being scrapped and completely overhauled the game mechanics, reigning in some of the lofty ambitions of the Konami team.
Originally, the title was going to be an interquel, a story woven between the events of MGS2 and MGS4. The decision was made, however, for the narrative to be set four years after the events of MGS4. Thus, allowing Platinum much more creative freedom.
The story is the usual web of PMC’s (private military companies) and shady, government puppet masters. With a group of mercenaries trying to spark spark a war to fill their coffers.
Child soldiers are another recurring theme. Which is no surprise when Raiden himself was a prolific child soldier, who was nicknamed Jack The Ripper, for his proficiency in battle.
The plot, although exposition-happy at times, gets you into the action much faster than any Kojima directed MGS game before it. Even the Codec sequences happen (wait for it) in real time. Yes, whilst people are nattering on like there isn’t any chopping to do, you can now take a leisurely stroll whilst listening to their incessant droning.
Strangely, as the game runs at a smooth 60 frames per second during the action sequences, every time you enter into a Codec conversation the frame rate drops. It can handle limbs and sparks flying through the air, as Raiden breakdances through a red fog with a sword attached to his foot, but not a conversation…oh no.
At least it gets it right in the most important area, however, as the core gameplay is fiendishly satisfying.