San Diego Comic-Con 2012: Metal Gear Rising: Revengence Impressions

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Hideo Kojima plus Platinum Games seems like a match made in heaven. Both are well known for their respective games’ balls to the wall insanity, and with Metal Gear Rising: Revengence, they are combining their powers to create something truly over-the-top.

Set sometime after the events of Metal Gear Solid 4, Rising puts you in control of the series’ resident badass, Raiden. The story itself is still somewhat of a mystery, but there’s one thing we know for sure: There are dudes out there that need to be cut, and Raiden’s blade is the perfect tool for the job.

Unlike the other entries in the Metal Gear series, Rising is not a stealth game. Much like Platinum’s previous efforts, Baynonetta andVanquish, this is a non-stop action assault. There’s no hiding in cardboard boxes here.

The demo I got my hands on at the San Diego Comic-Con started out familiarizing me with how the sword combat works. As is the standard in character action games like this, there are basic light and heavy attacks. The real fun begins when you initiate the precision attack mode. Pulling the left trigger slows down time that allows you to attack with surgical precision. While in this mode, you use the left stick to aim your attack and the right stick to select the angle of your slice. After getting some practice slicing up cardboard targets and watermelon, I was ready to go up against some enemies that could actually fight back.

While the standard combat is fairly basic, slowing down time and cutting foes into ribbons is extremely satisfying. Chopping off arms, legs, heads, or just going all out crazy and dicing them into tiny pieces is extremely easy and rewarding. Sneaking up behind a guy, cutting the very top of his head off and watching him crumple to the ground is an absolute blast. But if you’re feeling a little more stylish, you can weaken an enemy, pop them into the air with X+A, then jump after them and precision cut them while you’re both flying through the air. And they pull no punches when it comes to the gore. Geysers of blood and flying limbs are an extremely common sight.

Of course, there are limits to how much you can use precision slicing. Its use is governed by an energy meter that depletes every time you trigger it. You can replenish this meter by targeting specific points on certain enemies and slicing them, then hitting the B button to initiate a finishing maneuver.

After I was finished dispatching the first group of fodder, they upped the challenge a little more. As I entered the next area, I was up against more soldiers and a Gekko Metal Gear, which is a miniature Metal Gear that first made its appearance in Metal Gear Solid 4. After a quick search of the area, I was able to find a mainstay of the Metal Gear franchise, a Stinger missile launcher. Using that to weaken the Gekko, I was able to move in for the kill and slice up the machine like it was nothing.

Once I had dealt with that situation, it was time for a breather. Oh wait, did I say breather? I meant helicopter chase. During this I was taught yet another of Raiden’s abilities, the ninja run. Pulling the right trigger allows you to speed up your movement and automatically vault over obstacles. This would come in handy if you’re, say, being chased by a squadron of murderous helicopters while the bridge you were previously standing on collapses all around you.

After surviving a couple of helicopter related near deaths, it was time to finish this once and for all. Once again grabbing a trusty stinger missile, I was able to put my once out of reach foe on the ground and finish it off with a little bit of slicing and dicing.

With that the gameplay portion of the demo ended. But, in true Kojima fashion, there was one more reveal to be had. Before going back to the title screen, there was a little teaser of things to come. A scene that, based on Raiden’s appearance, seemed to be a flashback: Raiden, standing alone in a flame engulfed city, getting ready to do battle against a full sized Metal Gear Ray.

Video games, to me at least, are at their best when you feel powerful, and in that department Metal Gear Rising: Revengence delivers the goods. In Metal Gear Solid 4 Raiden was an unstoppable killing machine, literally. I was worried that they would tone him down a little bit once you were actually at the controls, but that’s not the case at all. Guiding his blade around like a surgeon as you murder your enemies with ease is the norm.

It was nice to finally get an idea of what this game is all about. After its announcement years ago, then an extended period of silence from everyone involved, it seemed like it may never see the light of day. Its resurrection by Platinum Games, who are, for my money, the finest action developers in the business today, was a welcome sight. But even with a reliable developer at the helm, it was still questionable how the game would turn out.

While it’s certainly still a product in development, the little taste I was able to get at Comic-Con certainly settled some of my worries. The basic gameplay is extremely solid. The only question left is if they can keep the “cutting dudes into little pieces” mechanic entertaining over its entire length. But let’s be honest; if cutting dudes into little pieces ever gets boring, we might as well stop playing video games altogether.

Metal Gear Rising: Revengence slices its way into stores in Q1 of 2013.

San Diego Comic-Con 2012: Metal Gear Rising: Revengence Impressions

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