Hands On With Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance

Having ventured to the annual Sony Holiday Preview Party in Toronto last week, I was able to get my hands on a demo of Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance.  Originally revealed at the Tokyo Game Show this year, the preview let me take a look at how Raiden’s next adventure was coming along.  Does the new hack-and-slash gameplay compete against the traditional Metal Gear stealth?  Well grab your katana and let’s slice on through it!

The demo in question was set partway through the game, happening after a major in-game event.  Plot is the bread and butter of the Metal Gear franchise, so I won’t spoil it by going into very much detail. However, you need to know that Raiden has been badly injured (yet again), including losing his left eye, and has gone even further into cyborg augments.  To ensure his body is up to snuff (and as sort of a nod to Raiden’s past), I had to undergo a quick Virtual Reality mission, which also acts as a tutorial.

In this VR area I learned the two central principles of gameplay: basic combat and Blade Mode.  As with any hack-and-slash title, I could move freely about while slicing away at foes via a series of light and strong combos.  As for defense, there is the ability to parry an incoming onslaught if a light attack is timed perfectly to cause both hits to collide – leaving the enemy stunned.  This system takes some getting used to in order to pick up on enemy hints and cues, and the action at this point feels like it needs either a block or dodge mechanic.  We’ll have to wait for the full release, however, to see how it stands up during longer gameplay.

While the basic premise so far sounds like any action game, MGR sports the aforementioned Blade Mode system which sets it worlds apart from other titles.  Players will be able to slow down time at the press of a button and precisely cut in any direction they see fit.  Furthermore, enemies and objects cut this way will dismantle exactly the way you slashed them, and you can continue cutting as many  pieces as you want.  To test my blade skills, and to partially showcase precision, I was presented a number of wooden soldiers to destroy – some of which held hostages.  Carefully, I used the Blade Mode to take down fake baddies by hitting marked areas on different targets, cautiously avoiding hitting the civilians.

Blade Mode is an incredibly amazing mechanic, but it wasn’t until I noticed a table of watermelons that its abilities were truly tested.  Wacking the melons, I discovered that no matter how much I kept slicing, the fruit continued to be cut into smaller pieces.  The title’s physics also stood out at this point, as each chunk fell very realistically as I shredded them.  After my curiosity was filled, I pulled out of the Blade Mode to find the game’s HUD tallying up my total amount of cuts (24 if you were wondering).  A representative from Konami was quick to point out that there is apparently no limit on the amount of pieces you can create in one go, stating that they can range up past the thousands –  which you can guarantee is going to be tested at launch.  Even so, Blade Mode is a mechanic that is sure to change the genre as we know it.

Once my training was complete, it was time to hit up a full mission.  Raiden was tasked with investigating activity from the private military corporation Desperado, who has been linked to terrorist activities.  At that point though, I couldn’t help but notice just how stunning the game’s visuals were.  After a crazy drop-off from a personal stealth carrier, our protagonist lands in the shallow waters of a beach in a stunning display of graphical power.  Water droplets bounced off Raiden’s cyborg chest piece as the camera panned rapidly to show off brilliant textures and flawless animation.  Even facial expressions from our hero and supporting casts are done so realistically that some gamers may have trouble believing they’re even playing a game.  Platinum Games has done an amazing job with MGR’s visuals, especially considering the game is still months away from launch.

Once I shook off my amazement, it was time to progress through the level.  The majority of the round was spent fighting off sword and gun wielding members of Desperado (and even a mechanical walker or two).  This space really showed off how MGR plays, both with traditional hack-and-slash mechanics and the new Blade Mode – as slicing helpless foes into hundreds of tiny pieces is considerable fun.  Just make a note to keep the little ones away from this title; it gets terribly bloody!

Eventually, I came across the being LQ-84i – an artificial intelligence housed within a tiger-shaped mechanical body.  The battle bot featured an arm equipped with a high-quality chainsaw, which was capable of slicing though just about anything.  After a short exchange of dialogue, it was battle time!  This beast proved to be a challenging adversary, since the aforementioned parry system’s learning curve and the lack of dodging capability made it difficult to avoid his attacks.  However, through perseverance, I was able to stomp him down and claim victory, which ended the demo.

My experience with Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance was generally an enjoyable one.  With beautiful graphics, a simple yet innovative cutting mechanic, and general gameplay that is for the most part fun, Platinum Games might just have a winner on their hands!  Here’s hoping they can keep the game’s narrative on par with other titles in the series.  I’ll be sharpening my katana in anticipation!

Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance launches on February 19, 2013.

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October 14, 2012 - 8:00 am