If Konami was looking to give the Metal Gear series a makeover, then there’s no arguing that they have achieved that with Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance. While many of the characters, environments and interfaces seem to have stayed true to Metal Gear’s iconic style, the similarities end there. As one would expect from the makers of Bayonetta and Vanquish, Platinum Games took Metal Gear’s ‘hack-and-slash’ knob and turned it to 11.
This sharply contrasts with older titles in the series, where players are encouraged to achieve their goals through stealth rather than force. While some stealth mechanics do remain in the game, the hour long play preview on PlayStation 3 did nothing to show them off. In fact, any stealth on the part of Raiden, the game’s cyborg-ninja protagonist, seems completely unnecessary as he single-handedly tears through endless waves of cyborgs and mechs.
Right from the start, Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance packs in the cinematic cut scenes and faced-paced fighting. Acting as bodyguard to the president of an unnamed African nation, Raiden is immersed in combat with cyborgs, helicopters and unmanned mechs from a mysterious private military company called Desperado Enforcement. Raiden’s movement around the battlefield is made to feel both fast and natural using the game’s ninja run system, with which Raiden can navigate obstacles automatically just by running forwards.
Another interesting game mechanic is blade mode, in which Raiden’s superhuman reflexes slow down time as he unleashes a flurry of sword cuts. Enemies caught under Raiden’s blade are visibly sliced into pieces with each cut, finally falling to the ground in bloody chunks once the slow-motion effect ends.
Using blade mode to kill an enemy rewards the player with extra points, as Raiden is charged with collecting the left hands of his fallen foes, each containing valuable combat data. Outside of blade mode, the player can time Raiden’s blocks with his sword to parry both ranged and melee attacks. On the easiest difficulty, players can enable parry assist, vastly increasing the timing window in which Raiden can successfully parry.
What stood out the most in the first hour of gameplay? Without a doubt, the boss (or mini-boss, whatever) fights remain the most memorable. The first boss battle features Raiden using a giant mech’s barrage of missiles as stepping stones to close the gap and set about chopping the thing to bits. In addition to boss fights that can only be described as awesome, Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance sports a ton of very snazzy cinematic cut scenes. Even all of those Raiden-haters out there (and there’s a lot of those) will have to admit that he at least looks like a badass in his fancy new body.
Some Metal Gear fans might find Revengeance’s game play to be too far removed from former titles in the series. Others have held a grudge against Raiden since his debut in Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty, where he replaced Snake as protagonist. Others still will be disappointed to know many characters from previous games will not be returning, including Solid Snake.
Rather than trying to cater to a very critical fan base, Platinum Games decided to emphasize a fresh, action-oriented experience that welcomes new comers to the Metal Gear games. In this respect, Revengeance could prove to bring a renewed interest to the series and (hopefully) spawn yet another Metal Gear title (we want Snake, who cares how old!).