I already felt like I stabbed the back of every Metal Gears Solid fan in the world by prefacing my Zone of the Enders HD Collection review with the fact that I hate the series. Therefore, deciding to do an impressions article about the Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance demo that came with it just felt like it would be twisting the knife. However, keeping in mind that this is a spinoff and it allows you slice things up with a katana, I was intrigued and took the plunge anyways. What did I think of it? To be honest, I was pleasantly surprised.
The game is set directly after Metal Gear Solid 4, taking place in the near-future and putting you in control of Raiden, the emo cyborg-ninja, as he fights against PMCs. Kojima’s heavy handed storytelling has definitely not packed up shop. Characters have no problem giving Raiden a long, detailed explanation of whatever PMC or piece of technology they’re referring to, acronym breakdowns and all. However, I didn’t mind it as much here, mostly because the dialogue is a lot punchier and generally flows better. It helps that the voice acting is solid too, with everyone imbuing their rather stereotypical characters with enough personality as to be entertaining. As long as you’re willing to swallow some cheese and convolution, you’ll be able to enjoy the narrative here.
But what of the gameplay, you ask? At its core it’s a hack-and-slash action game, but it does house a few unique gameplay elements, the most prominent of which is ‘blade mode.” Essentially, holding a trigger will make you enter a slow-motion focus mode that allows you to accurately slice an object from whichever angle and direction you want. It has many tactical applications, such as slowing down enemies by cutting their legs off or slicing them horizontally at the midsection to expose their electric spine, which you can then crush and consume for health.
Blade mode has limited usage, however, and the rest of the combat is typical fare, where you have to slash at opponents with Raiden’s katana. It controls smoothly, and Raiden fluidly transitions to other enemies when finishing with one. That said, it took me a while to comprehend the parry system, which is an element I usually have trouble with in action games but it was nonetheless a bit frustrating here. I would have liked a dodge move, which sadly the folks at research and development didn’t feel like programming into Radien’s cyborg body. I hope he got a cool MP3 player installed as a compromise. To be fair, he does have a versatile sprint function that has unlimited use and comes in pretty handy.
Some segments allow for stealth, which while simple, I’m not ashamed to admit I actually enjoyed more than the stealth in the Metal Gear Solid titles I played. Raiden has the ability to do stealth kills on enemies, and it helps to go undetected to reach your objectives more easily. Finally, there was the battle against a robotic wolf with a chainsaw attached to its tail. In terms of boss fights, you don’t get much more badass than that. This was undoubtedly the most challenging part of the demo, as it took many tries to finally master the combat system and get the wolf’s attack patterns down. The inventory system disappeared after a while and Raiden started using health items automatically, which was weird to say the least. However, once I finally schooled that boss I felt wholly satisfied in a way I rarely feel after completing demos. There’s quite a bit of depth to the combat here, and it’s unique enough to the point where I can seriously recommend this title to fans of Platinum Games’ previous works.
It helps a lot that the game looks and sounds great. The cinematics are stunningly rendered, and I was pleased to see that when the in-game graphics took the spotlight, they looked just as good, with exquisite lighting, great texture work, and some mighty impressive animation. I also enjoyed the soundtrack, especially in regards to the rock track that played during the boss fight. So basically, the presentation is amazing, but you didn’t expect any less from Kojima and Platinum Games, did you? I did encounter one framerate dip during a codec conversation, though it was thankfully very brief and something I easily forgot about shortly after.
Many thoughts entered my head during my time with the demo, but none of them told me that the game was bad. In fact, looking back on the experience, I have to say I had a grand old time slicing up dudes and crushing their Energizer Battery spines. I do have some minor quibbles, such as the parry system and the inventory weirdness, but when I remember slicing a guy’s legs off and seeing him crawl up to me while yelling “I’m still gonna kick your ass!”, my face donned a smile that was more curved than the moon. So far, Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance is shaping up to be an impressive action title, and one that I can recommend to people who aren’t even fans of the series. If nothing else, it’ll certainly teach you a lot about human anatomy.