The Metal Gear franchise is one of the most beloved in gaming. Solid Snake is easily one of the most interesting and badass characters ever created, while the plots are always complex and full of surprises.
On the other hand, Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance is a game built on the ashes of a failed Metal Gear Solid 5 and labeled as a spinoff of the main franchise.
I went into Rising with as open a mind as possible and came out both concerned and surprised at the demo on display.
The Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance demo at Konami’s booth is made up of only the game’s tutorial, giving a brief glimpse into the action to come.
The game has pretty simple controls. Pressing square and triangle does wide and strong slashes respectively. Holding down the L1 button allows Raiden to enter the Blade mode(the slow motion mode seen frequently in trailers) that allows players to dice enemies and objects into tiny bits by flicking the right thumbstick. Raiden is also capable of jumping by pressing X, interacting with objectives by using circle, and ninja running by holding down the R1 button.
Enemies that were in the demo can easily be dispatched by mashing the slash buttons randomly while still looking very stylish. Raiden didn’t have any combos that I noticed, but he did have a slow-motion attack that sends enemies into the air, so players can execute the Blade mode. The animation was looking great the first few times I saw it, but by the end of the ten-minute demo, I had already seen the move about a dozen times. Hopefully there are more animations that Platinum is keeping hidden away.
There were two standout moments of the demo. The first came when a Gecko, a robot that has reptilian-legs, leaps into a battle with Raiden. The Gecko can only attack short range by spinning, but the scale of the fight was great to see. The Gecko was an extremely formidable enemy in Metal Gear Solid 4, but in Rising, the Gecko is barely stronger than a regular soldier. It was a lot of fun sticking it to the enemy that was such a pain in the last Metal Gear.
The other scene is the final encounter with an enemy helicopter, which is the equivalent of a mid-boss. The helicopter has to be hit with homing missiles to stun it. While it’s stunned, Raiden has to move in and hack away as much as possible to defeat the helicopter. The helicopter does gain more attacks as it takes damage, such as a barrage of missiles, but the fight is very simplistic, overall. The fight finishes with a Raiden skipping off several missiles in mid-flight before he dices the chopper into tiny pieces.
There are a number of noticeable issues present within the game, such as camera work and targeting. I found that Raiden seems to have some serious ADD as he frequently kept switching his focus to different enemies in mid-combo that were further away. The Blade mode also had a huge issue keeping air combo enemies in camera view, which caused me to stand and stare blankly at the screen while Raiden hung in the air like a monkey.
The graphics of Rising don’t seem to be up to par either. The small environment I played in was very brown and gray with few moments that had any visual pop. Another problem was that everything onscreen seemed a little bit muddy. I can’t be certain whether that was because of the way the console had been set up, but since we all know that Metal Gear usually pushes the expected boundaries of consoles with each major release, it would be a big disappointment if it couldn’t get cleaned up in time for its release.
I don’t frequently play action games, but like many gamers, I was drawn to the game because of its Metal Gear association. I think Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance has some promise as a high-intensity, fast-paced action title. As Hideo Kojima said at his PAX panel, Metal Gear Rising is all about getting Revengeance on life and taking out our troubles, but whether Kojima Productions and Platinum Games can come through with a complete experience won’t be known until the game is finished next year.
Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance will be available February 18, 2013, on PS3 and Xbox 360.
[Screenshots are via attackofthefanboy.com and are not entirely reflective of the demo that I played at PAX.]