Sometimes as gamers we want a pure adrenaline filled fighting game that’s high on the skill and brutal hits that can be delivered. A few titles have risen to the occasion in giving us what we wanted such as the Batman Arkham games, the old-school Devil May Cry titles from Capcom, and of course the ever constant goodness that’s coming from Platinum Games in the form of Bayonetta and Metal Gear Rising. Though rarely do we see a game that’s wholly original in the combat action that it delivers let alone utilizes a set-up that’s unorthodox to say the least.
The situation that gamers find themselves in when it comes to good action games is also present at times in actual action cinema, especially that of the Asian film industry in Hong Kong and Japan. Yet last year a movie was released that not only took action cinema to a new level thanks to the directing and choreography that was on display, but it would make for one hell of a video game – that of The Raid: Redemption.
This week on Golden Opportunity I’ll be taking a look at what a game based on The Raid could be like and if it could be as amazing and memorable as the actual film was.
WHAT IS IT?
Released in 2012, The Raid: Redemption was the second collaboration between director Gareth Evans and actor/fight choreographer Iko Uwais after their first film Merantau in 2009. Grittier and more focused on the actual action rather than the effects of violence has on people and the situation at hand, as was the case with Merantu, The Raid was a pure flick in its delivery and what it was trying to be.
With a premise that’s as simple as an old-school action flick from the 1980s, the plot followed a squad of police officers as they raided, hence the title, a giant apartment complex owned by a notorious crime lord. While the existence of this apartment complex, and the less than savory criminals that use it as a safe haven, has been known about for years, the police finally take action into their own hands by attempting to take the villains down. Of course things go horribly wrong in the raid as the police squad is soon trapped within the complex with criminals gunning them down at every possible corner.
Yet as is later found out in the movie, not all is what it seems – both with the motivations of the heroic Officer Rama (played by Iko Uwais), his superior Lieutenant Wahyuand, and the mysterious Andi – the second in-command of crime lord Tama Riyadi.
As a whole The Raid is a rather simple movie in what it’s trying to be and the story that is told. Despite this, the film managed to elevate itself past regular action flicks such as Ong Bak or even Ip Man since the fight scenes were shot and choreographed in an amazing way and more importantly the characters were actually written well. Besides rooting for Rama to make it out of the apartment complex, characters such as Tama’s henchman Mad Dog (played by Yayan Ruhian) had a captivating presence to them that made them a joy to watch in both regular dialog scenes and the epic five minute fights that occurred.
WHAT WOULD IT BE?
As a person that has played a lot of games based upon movies/TV shows in the past, I absolutely hate when a game adaptation is directly based on the plot. I know it may be a slightly contradictory thing to say, but the liberties that are taken within games which see giant spider mechs pop up, as was the case with The Amazing Spider-Man: The Game, or other such things that don’t follow the universe or the core narrative just piss me off.
With that said, I think the narrative beats and the actual structure of The Raid would work perfectly when adapted in an almost 1:1 way within a game. Thanks to the premise of the police squad trying to fight their way through the apartment complex, both to survive and detain Tama, the floor-by-floor nature of that journey would be perfectly suitable for a game that combines both linear and non-linear elements.
Now I wouldn’t say that The Raid should suddenly be turned into an open-world action game since it isn’t entirely suited for such a thing. However, the perfect scenario (at least in my mind) would be to allow gamers to play as different members of the squad such as Rama and Sergeant Jaka (Joe Taslim). Progressing through the apartment complex floor by floor, the game could allow gamers to switch between characters during certain periods, whether they’re together on the same floor or even separated from one another.
A unique design approach could be taken that would allow characters that aren’t being controlled by the player to be engaged in action scenarios when the player would least expect it. An example would be the player navigating through the apartment complex as Rama, going into an unoccupied unit to hide, and then switching over to another character on another floor that is suddenly engaged in a gun or melee battle. Such an approach would ultimately result in a slightly persistent action game as opposed to one that is entirely linear and dictated by a level by level progression set-up. Of course there would be scenarios within the game that would be entirely scripted, in a design approach, in order for the story to actually continue and progress to be made.
One way that a game based upon The Raid could stay true to the source material as well as being a unique game would be the inclusion of characters dying during boss battles. We all know that in most cases the point of a boss battle is to defeat the foe, feel good about yourself, and then move on to the next stage. But what would it be like from both a narrative and emotional perspective to partake in a boss battle in which the fight may be even to a degree, but ultimately your character succumbs to their opponent?
One of the many amazing fight scenes in The Raid: Redemption
It may be a tricky design element to properly balance without annoying gamers due to “gimping” the battle, but a game adaptation of the battle between Sergeant Jaka and Mad Dog could prove to be as resounding and shocking as it was in the film rather than adhering to the longstanding traditional game design tropes that currently exist. Having boss encounters be less than standard in their approach could also be used to hammer down the dangers of the enemies that are faced, an element that can be used to further build up key boss characters and eventually whittle down the cast until Rama is the lone survivor.
Beyond the base structure of moment to moment gameplay and level progression, the key aspect of combat could be a cross between the rhythmic approach as seen in the Batman Arkham games and something perhaps a bit lithe in its feeling as was the case with Metal Gear Rising. As a whole seeing the martial art of Silat within a game would be unique and the mere thought of picking up a machete to go crazy on some enemies or even using the environment to take people out could result in some amazing battles.
Another way a game based upon The Raid could is in regards to the ever tricky element of the camera system. Usually action games place the camera directly behind the player and in some cases have brief angle changes to highlight a particular move; all while allowing the gamer in some cases to control the angle themselves. That approach is fine and all in cases in which it’s executed properly, but how about an action game that users pre-determined camera angles, almost akin to how an actual action movie is shot?
Technically it may be hard to pull off, along with requiring a period in which the player would have to get acclimated with the angle changes that occur, yet having a camera system that is constantly dynamic in a sense, as opposed to being static more or less, would offer a much needed change of pace within the action game genre along with presenting the same cinematic experience as seen in The Raid.
WILL IT EVER HAPPEN?
While The Raid has been rather successful, both commercially and critically, the chances of a video game adaptation happening are somewhat low. There is a huge interest in the universe The Raid offered as a sequel is currently being filmed, but given the current climate of the video game industry and the politics that go along with it, attempting to get a game based upon a rather hardcore action movie may not be possible as it has “limiting” appeal compared to the bigger gaming franchises out there.
The only thing we can hope for at this point is for a publisher/developer to at least be inspired by The Raid and provide an experience that’s somewhat similar, albeit presented in a package that’s different and may have a brand name attached to it. Until then, fans of the movie will simply have to imagine what a tag-team battle against Mad Dog would be like and how it could be a totally fresh experience within the action game genre.