I’ll admit that I was a little apprehensive at the idea at first given how the fourth entry seemed designed to close that chapter in the franchise once and for all. Given the popularity of the franchise though, and the fact that we’ve seen nothing but prequels since then, I guess it was just a matter of time before a proper followup was created. Only this time, it’s about Raiden.
Hideo Kojima had been trying to make Raiden into a likeable character ever since Metal Gear Solid 2 when he substituted for Solid Snake. This plan backfired when fans lashed out for being treated to what they felt like was a cruel bait and switch. Since then, the character has been transformed from a golden-haired pretty boy who runs around naked on occasion to a cybernetic ninja. His appearances since then have been commendable, but how does he fare having his own game again? Seeing as how a demo was conveniently bundled with the Zone of the Enders HD Collection, I sought to find out.
1. It’s hard to pinpoint where exactly in the story the demo takes place. There’s a great deal of reading to be done at the beginning to get caught up to the point in the timeline where the demo begins, so it’s hard to say if there’s a cinematic intro that precedes events or if you’re just simply expected to do your homework beforehand. The latter would be unfortunate, as I would really like to see exactly how Raiden gets his eye and limbs ripped out or play out that fight regardless if it’s a losing battle or not. At any rate, this experience earned Raiden not only some new cybernetic upgrades, but a much colder demeanor as well. His latest mission pits him against an organization responsible for ambushing an escort that he was apart of, and trying to destabilize the entire region.
2. The brief tutorial used to get familiar with the controls introduces you to a new feature called Blade Mode which slows down time and allows you to see the angle in which you cut things with Raiden’s sword. By holding down the left trigger, you can use the right analog stick to aim sword strikes to lop off specific body parts or prevent harming captured civilians as demonstrated by the tutorial. However, the game never really explains any practical applications for this skill outside of the tutorial, as you can just as easily kill enemies with the X and Y buttons, but I suspect that as you progress in the actual game there will be more uses fleshed out. Or at least I hope so, since it was fun to tinker around with.
3. Unlike the other Metal Gear titles, Revengeance is more action oriented. Since it is being developed by Platinum Games, its hard not to compare the game’s combat to their other title, Bayonetta. There didn’t seem to be as many combos at your disposal as that game, but what’s here is both fluid and satisfying to execute. Most of the enemies you encounter will be of the cyborg variety, but you’ll also square off against the two-legged Metal Gear enemies that moo like cows (seriously, just listen to them). Any attacks that are thrown your way, including melee and even bullets can be parried by pressing towards the attacker and hitting X, which was nice.
4. Despite the heavy emphasis on action, there are a few staples from the franchise that made the transition. You still use a codec to communicate with those assisting you on your mission and they will offer you advice on your current objective, or simply share anecdotes with you. You also have a radar that can scan for enemy targets and objects that can be interacted with. While you’re not required to be stealthy, you have the option of sneaking up behind enemies and running them through with your sword, or simply walking past them. I found that taking on certain groups of enemies tended to be more of a hassle than it was worth in some cases.
5. You also have access to items and sub-weapons much like the previous games, so you can regenerate your life with rations if the need calls for it. I’m not sure if you’ll ever pick up any guns to use, but it did find grenades and rocket launchers that could be used in a limited capacity, both of which were incredibly useful for the demo’s final battle.
6. After defeating a group of foes, you are awarded a score based on your performance that translates into a letter grade. You are judged on how quickly you took them out as well as other factors such as the damage you took during the skirmish. Battle Points or BP are then given which can be redeemed for upgrades in the final game. There were no upgrades available to me in the demo, so I’m interested to see what kinds of things you’ll be awarded.
7. While in combat, particularly with the Metal Gear enemies, sometimes you’ll find that one of their body parts will flash blue. If you’re close enough to that particular part of them, you may get a prompt to activate a cutscene that will show Raiden skewer that part of them. It’s hard to say if this translates into more complex quick-time events down the road, but it was neat being able to cripple the specific parts that you were damaging.
8. Aside from cutting through enemies, I found that Raiden’s sword can make cheese slices out of nearly anything, in some cases when I never even intended to. During some heated scuffles, I chopped a car to pieces and watched it explode as well as laughed gleefully as a pillar that got in my way turned to ribbons. Blade Mode allows you more control over these cuts, but it’s limited by a meter and was really awkward to try to use quickly in the heat of battle.
9. I was amused by the fact that enemies still flash an exclamation mark whenever they spot you, and alerting one enemy will cause the rest of them in that area to come after you. But again, unlike prior Metal Gear games, you’re encouraged to charge into combat unless doing so will get you mercilessly killed. There are even captured civilians that you can rescue by participating in fights that will award you additional BP.
10. The demo concludes with with a boss fight against a highly advanced A.I. in the form of a wolf with a chainsaw on its tail. And put up a fight he did. In additional to his various charge attacks and grinding into you with a chainsaw, he’ll continuously spawn enemies onto the field to ambush you. It wasn’t until I noticed all of the rations scattered about that I was able to bring him down. This was on normal difficulty as well, even though there are three to choose from, the hard mode was locked out for me.
I gotta say, despite my doubts, the game really seems to be coming along. I really enjoy the more action-oriented combat as well as how they managed to loosely tie in elements from the other titles in order to make it feel like Metal Gear. Raiden just might be a likeable guy yet. Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance releases on February 19, 2013 for Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3.
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