Back in July, I wrote an article previewing Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance, based off of any available footage I could find at the time. Recently, I was lucky enough to play the demo, which was included in the Zone of The Enders: HD Collection; it turned out to be a nice first look at what the upcoming title might be. So, without further delay, lets dive in and get an inside scoop on the next big Metal Gear title.
The demo starts with a tutorial—as one would expect—which held no real surprises. After completing the tutorial, the game gives you a little backstory; without spoiling anything, I can say it does continue from where MGS 4 left off, explaining who some of the major villains could be, how Raiden’s suit works, and also introduces a team that appears to work with Raiden. Most importantly, though, the feel of the demo fits with that of a a MGS game, particularly with regard to the writing and animation style. The MGS series has always had a humorous edge, and there are a few funny moments, so it’s a good sign that, despite changes in gameplay, the feel of the story hasn’t changed.
Once the introduction finishes, the action picks up pretty quickly. You immediately run into a couple enemies, who also have cyborg enhancements (so you aren’t just beating up on helpless soldiers). These guys can easily stand their ground, so if you aren’t careful and use the basic hack-and-slash control well you’ll soon be in trouble. The square button does a wide attack, triangle does a strong attack, and you can use combos. Parrying requires you to move the joystick and press square simultaneously. Again, it’s basic hack-and-slash gameplay, so nothing unexpected.
Blade Mode, however, is new and very interesting Pressing L1 will slow down time, and by using your two joysticks, you can slice your sword at any angle. It’s a little tricky at first, but practice soon makes perfect. Once you get the hang of the controls, the attacks are extremely fluid and fun, and you’ll be slicing up enemies in the most gruesome and satisfying ways before you know it. Many game world objects can also be sliced, and the environmental destruction is a nice touch and could prove useful in the actual game. For example, enemies may be standing on a platform; if you slice the pillars underneath, you to take them all out at once.
Slicing an enemy in the right location while in Blade Mode will reward you with the enemy’s electrolytes, which look like their spinal cord but with less blood. This will refill your health bar and Blade Mode meter. There are also times when an enemy’s weak point is highlighted; using Blade Mode will enable you to finish them quickly, with a flashy slice instead of a prolonged fight.
The demo reveals a surprising amount about the actual game mechanics. A ‘ninja run’ skill that allows Raiden to run up and scale objects incredibly quickly; the mechanic seems to work well and is a good way to get the jump on enemies. And Raiden isn’t stuck using just his sword—he also can pick up sub-weapons to shoot, like an RPG. The famous Codec system from the other MGS is included, and there are even conversations to be heard in the demo. In the opening cut-scene, there are hints of a possible upgrade system in place, and since you can earn Battle Points from fighting they will probably be spent on upgrading. Lastly, the demo even incorporates a small boss fight so you get a taste of what fighting a more powerful enemy will be like.
There were some small flaws present in the demo—okay, not flaws exactly, more letdowns. The barriers that were erected while fighting enemies were a confusing: a wall will literally appear from nowhere and someone will tell you to stay within it. It would’ve been much cooler to see the environment creatively incorporate these barriers. This really is a minor flaw, but going the extra mile is usually appreciated.
The main letdown—which will really drive away a lot of MGS fans—is the lack of any form of stealth. Yes, technically there is some stealth aspects, but not by comparison with the previous MGS games. Raiden can one-hit kill an enemy he surprises, often by jumping off a ledge and slamming his sword into the unsuspecting soldier below you. This does give you a little more incentive to find a sneakier path to taking out enemies, but it’s hard to call this ‘stealth’ since the AI enemy is blissfully unaware of Raiden, who can do a full sprint right up to a soldier that’ll never hear him approach. At the very least the guards should be able to hear a faster-moving Raiden, and this is highlighted at one point in the demo. At one point you stealth kill a Gekko; it explodes only a few feet away from a soldier. This soldier did not notice the explosion and will happily keep his back turned, allowing you to easily also stealth kill him. These soldiers need a little more intelligence, or at the very least, some hearing-aids.
The other problem with the way stealth was used in this demo is that it’s basically unnecessary. In the previous MGS games, there was a feeling that stealth was needed because the player could easily become overwhelmed. Raiden is an absolute beast, which is awesome, but that also means that getting swarmed by enemies is never really a worry. In fact, since the gameplay excels when your character is surrounded by enemies, more obvious styles of gameplay are almost encouraged. When that alert sound goes off, it’s like a bell ringing out the next exciting round of an addictive fighting sequence in comparison to the panic it invoked in previous games.
It has to be said, Revengeance was not advertised as a stealth game, was never even hinted at being a stealth-based title. Revengeance blatantly declares itself an action game, which it definitely is. In that regard, it’s looking great so far. The demo had some big shoes to fill but far surpassed expectations, and for lovers of action hack-and-slash will definitely want to pick this game up on release. To those that love MGS for its stealth elements … it just isn’t there. Still, the story does look promising and maybe worth a play through anyway to experience the Metal Gear Solid universe once more.
If you want to play the demo, but don’t want to spend money on The Zone of The Enders: HD Collection, fear not—the demo will be released on January 22, and the game itself will be released on February 19.