One of the Metal Gear Solid series' trademarks is the option to complete the game without killing a single human being. Despite Metal Gear Solid: Rising's gloriously gory debut trailer, you can clear it too without registering one kill.
Metal Gear Solid: Rising producer Shigenobu Matsuyama says that he's trying to change the series with the new one starring cyborg ninja Raiden. He thinks it might change so much that it will spawn two distinct lines of Metal Gear games, one with the patient stealth style Snake prefers, one with a high-speed stealth of Rising's Raiden.
Matsuyama wants to find new Metal Gear fans this way, something "easier to understand for first-time users".
One thing he won't change is the option for a no-kill completion. I asked Matsuyama about the ultra-violent, limb-severing action seen in Metal Gear Solid: Rising's E3 2010 trailer, something some players will never have to see.
"I believe that MGS has a key stealth element in not trying to kill anyone," Matsuyama says. "You could actually have a no-kill completion [in Rising] . There will be a lot of mechs and cyborgs, but if you slice them up, that will be considered as a no-kill as well. You'll have the freedom of killing humans, of course, but you can proceed through the game without killing a human being, but slicing up mechs and cyborgs."
Matsuyama also talked about the option of cutting the weapons and ammunition of enemies, rendering them defenceless. That awesome display of the power of Raiden's high frequency blade will be intimidating enough to make some enemies run away. However...
"You could maybe accidentally cut human enemies," he noted. "We have to think about the violence and the morals behind it. I would like to add the expression of the pain [enemies feel]as well... not just make a slice 'em up, dice 'em up."
That "expression of pain," Matsuyama adds, isn't necessarily meant to make the player feel bad about their choices, but an illustration of the reality of the player's actions. Matsuyama says he's aware of the guidelines and ratings that might limit the graphic display of violence. But, he says, "I don't feel its correct that if we only change the colour of blood or blur the scene" to mask that violence.
"I will put the essence of the beauty of the no-kill," he says. "I want to emphasise that I will never reward a player for killing human beings in the game. I won't make it easier to clear the game [that way] . I will probably make it more difficult."
Metal Gear Solid: Rising doesn't currently have a release date, but hopefully we'll learn more about the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 game, what else is changing and what isn't, at this year's Tokyo Game Show.