The first title I hunted down to get my hands on was Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance, easily the videogame that I have been most excited for since it was announced that Platinum Games were to develop it. The queue was large, stated to last at least an hour, but I was determined to get my shot. Was it worth the wait?
Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance is a spinoff of the Metal Gear franchise, set after the events of Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots – originally a series of stealth games. Following the unpopular protagonist of Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty, players assume the role of Raiden as a cyborg as an over-the-top action hero.
Starting up the game, I went straight into the action. The title didn’t hold back and sent a small number of units my way. Even before the fighting began I was impressed by the incredibly smooth camera, but that wasn’t all that was smooth. In an instant, the protagonist Raiden had decimated all the enemy units he was facing, and my was it magnificent.
The player has an incredible level of control over the character. There’s a huge range of depth in the combos, allowing variations in button presses to change the character’s animations and attacks in a number of ways. Brief pauses interjected between input can alter the effects of the attack string, giving players a massive array of available combos. Of course, with two attack buttons (‘wide attack’ and ‘strong attack’), players are given even more depth. Witnessing Raiden attack an enemy behind himself, without losing focus of the foe in front of him was very impressive. Put it simply, the player has a wide area of influence during combat, allowing battle to flow both brilliantly and fast paced. The player isn’t limited to combo strings either.
A key feature in the original presented version of Rising was the ability to cut anything, anywhere. It was an impressive mechanic that even included internal texturing for the limbs or objects sliced to pieces by Raiden’s blade. ‘Blade mode’ still remains in Platinum Games’ overhauled version, but its effectiveness has been slightly reduced in exchange for making the title more balanced. The player can’t be expected to slay an enemy in an instant anymore, but can make use of this tool as a finishing technique. It’s not quite as exploitable. Players can still cut objects at will, and weaker enemies will perish instantly when faced with this ability, but larger enemies will require a proper fight before being taken apart. This skill also enables the player to recover, ripping out enemy spines to produce a healing item. It’s quite rewarding.
After slaying a number of enemies and progressing further through the demo, I found myself in a more expansive area. Two enemy units were holding an individual hostage, and there were another two across the other side on a roof, and below. Utilizing the stealth element Rising gives the player. Sneaking up on the enemy on the roof, I silently annihilated him with a flashy assassination animation.
Remembering back to the gameplay footage of the game; I recalled that the player can sneak up behind the enemy below, using blade mode to cut through a pillar and slicing the enemy in half. Since I’ve already seen that, I decided to experiment by putting the stealth mechanic to the test. I wanted to see how long I could hold up without being detected.
And then I instantly failed that mini-objective. Making use of the flashy silent kills, I took down one of the two enemy units guarding the civilian. Unfortunately, I forgot to bring my common sense to the Eurogamer Expo, believing that jumping from the balcony of a building onto another person wouldn’t generate enough noise to alert his friend. That was silly of me. Before I knew it, I was taking missiles to the face. Damn. Of course, it didn’t take me long to dispatch the remaining two sentries, but it certainly hurt.
Proceeding down the area, I carelessly stumbled into another enemy. Fortunately, he only caught a glimpse of me and came to investigate me in a very, “Huh? Who’s there?” moment typical of Metal Gear Solid. It’s nice to see that still survives the jump into the new genre. Stealth went completely out of the window after my last blunder, and I was about to pay the cost. Sure, I also got rid of this enemy with Raiden’s incredible and fluid combos, but the enemy unit also appeared to have summoned a Gekko–a large mecha–on me.
I took the liberty to use the Gekko as a tool to experiment with Rising‘s parrying mechanic. The parrying requires a tricky combination of using the wide attack button, tilting the left analogue stick, and timing. Whilst seemingly counter-intuitive, this tricky combination requires a bit of skill to pull off. Unlike games such as God of War, which allocates blocking to just holding the L2 button, Rising doesn’t make it so easy to avoid oncoming attacks. The player must be constantly on his toes, with mistiming the parry resulting in a mere block. The player can’t simply rely on blocking to make it easy for themselves, instead needing to read the oncoming attack and strike in that direction. This game doesn’t take you by the hand, and that’s a good thing; it also leads to some pretty intense battles as I soon discovered.
Taking care of the Gekko, I continued to progress towards the end of the demo, picking up a Grenade along the way. Other weapons do exist, and are equipped by making use of the d-pad. They can be quite useful, but I didn’t get the chance to experiment with the grenade in more creative ways, such as using it as a distraction.
Eventually, I reached a room that required a bit of platforming. Unlike blocking and parrying, Rising‘s platforming is far more simple. Simply hold the dash button, approach a wall and then Raiden will climb it. It was this last section that lead me to the boss battle — a robotic dog with a chainsaw seemingly attached to its tail.
To combat this opponent, the player is required to make use of all the skills they required in the demo. On normal difficulty, it’s still incredibly challenging. It was probably the most intense battle I’ve had in a videogame in a long time, requiring me to parry my opponent’s strikes multiple times before I can unleash my own combo. It was back and forth, with the canine taking an occasional break as a wave of cyborg units would take their turn. It’s during these breaks that I was also given the chance to recover by tearing out the recovery items from my foes.
Rising is visually stunning. It looks great for a console title, and flows extremely well. The camera movement is probably more smooth in this title than any other I’ve played on a console — at least, that’s how it felt. The action experience Rising delivered was, at least for the demo, unparalleled in gaming so far. It’s exciting and was, in all honesty, my game of the show at the Eurogamer Expo. I’m also glad to see that I wasn’t alone in this opinion.
Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance hits retail on 21st February, 2013 in Europe and Japan; 19th February, 2013 in North America. Konami will also be releasing a limited edition including the soundtrack and a lamp designed with Raiden’s high frequency sword.
And yes, I did embarrassingly fail to defeat the boss. I did get close, honest! I easily beat it on the same difficulty in the demo though. No credit lost.