‘Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance’ Preview: A Bombastic Departure

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Whether you hate the idea or love it, the Metal Gear series is taking a brief path down the hack ‘n slash road. Traditionally a stealth/action series, the latest installment — Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance — is being developed by Platinum Games and will be focusing on the perspective of Raiden, a once relatively helpless (and many argue, quite whiny) character who showed prevalence in MGS2 and then again in MGS4. As shown in MGS4, Raiden has equipped himself with cybernetic enhancements that increase his physical, combat and style performance. This time, Raiden is taking on a new terrorist threat toting evermore bombastic technological threats that the series is known for.

Fans will find that the gameplay is radically different from what they’re used to. Instead of being stealthy and hiding from open danger, Revengeance forces players right into the thick of battle (there are moments when the demo encourages you to be a little sneaky, but then catches you out anyway). The combat is pretty much your typical hack ‘n slash thing – you get light attacks, heavy attacks and a dodge move. The real stickler is parrying, which in my experience was really hit or miss. No idea if I just passed out in that part of the tutorial, but it seemed as if the game doesn’t really teach the player how to parry attacks, which are pretty essential to fighting larger enemies — like the mechs — since their attacks can be quick and devastating.

Another focal point of the gameplay is the blade mode, in which holding a trigger causes the game to go slow-mo and allows the player to aim a slice at their target using Raiden’s giant electro-blade. Using this mode allows the player to precisely attack an enemy point if they wish to do something particular, like chopping off a leg. What was quite surprising is that many objects in the game’s environment can also be sliced such as trees, platforms, pillars, vehicles, etc. The effect is usually superficial, but it’s a nice touch that adds that extra layer of depth to the game.

A problem with this function is that aiming your sword can be pretty arduous. The left stick is used to adjust your view and the right stick alters the angle of the blade. To chop, the player must flick the right stick in the desired direction, which most of the time works but sometimes doesn’t. It can be annoying trying to cut someone in half only to swing in the wrong direction and get a foot in the face as a result.

In terms of performance, the game seems to run quite well. The presentation is slick and stylish, the attacks look brutal, and probably best of all, the dialogue seems less waffly than most MGS games. However, even on the easiest setting the game can be tough, especially the boss battle at the end of the demo against an AI-powered scorpion chainsaw-dog thing. With the combat being quite frantic, the boss just flies by you and knocks you down if you’re not quick enough to keep up your reflexes. Coupled with the currently dodgy parry system, the boss battle took me about 10 frustrating tries before I decided to just go balls-out nuts on the thing and wail on it with my sword. In my instance trying to be strategic isn’t always the best way to go, but just relying on your reflexes is.

All in all, Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance is an interesting departure from a deeply grained series, and one that won’t be loved by everyone. If you’re looking for a traditional Metal Gear fix, this most likely isn’t your game. If you’re looking for a different spin on a well-established franchise, complete with ridiculous fight scenes, mooing mechs and slicing people to pieces, then maybe this is up your alley. However we won’t know for sure how Revengeance will shape up until its release come February 19 on both Xbox 360 and PS3.

Have you tried your hand at this demo? What did you think about it? Let us know in the comments below!

Having been an avid gamer for twenty-two years now, I've come to appreciate all facets of gaming (music, culture, development, etc). I originally started out with a Sega Master System II, then moved onto a Nintendo 64 and the rest is history. Though my focus is all things Nintendo, I still love having a taste of everything. No one console is perfect, and that's the way I like it.