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Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance Preview

Everybody's favourite peroxide imposter is back, and back with a vengeance, a re-vengeance. Who was once an androgynous, side-flipping, pretty-boy; is now a robotic, no-jawed, ninja badass. Platinum Games has stepped in to revive a game on its deathbed, breathing life into a critical project that was plagued with issues.

Initially I was worried about the change in developer, not because Platinum aren't a great studio, just because I'm a big fan of the stealth foundations of the Metal Gear franchise. Stealth is still there however, but now it's more about thinning the numbers before an exclamation mark pops up above a distant enemies head, and the real game begins.

Metal Gear Rising

The newest addition to the Metal Gear franchise is an action game, don't expect anything else, but Platinum sure know their action games. The combat feels lovely and fluid: with one button for mid-range attacks, one for short-range flurries, you hold down a shoulder button to enter "blade mode" - allowing you to cut an enemy in precise locations, lopping off limbs like a mental metal butcher.

Blade Mode is a joy to use, you trace a transparent, blue line across your target and you use the rights stick to control the angle and the left stick for location. This is slightly jarring at first, as the left stick becomes the camera and any battle-hardened gamer will know, that the opposite is usually true. Activating this mode triggers a bullet-time (or more appropriately "witch-time") state, allowing you to cut even falling enemies with deadly precision. This mode is powered by an energy bar and once you get used to cutting your enemy in a way to reveal the sweet nectar inside, you can chain together many kills, in spectacular fashion.

Metal Gear Rising

You can just chop your enemies to pieces, and from the section I played there is certainly no trace of Kojima's trademark, non-lethal approach. There is an advantage to killing the enemies with care however; zan-datsu (cut and take) is the art of cutting specific body parts to reap various benefits, the aforementioned nectar being one. You can cut out the spine and heal yourself, cutting off the enemies' right hands nets you some currency to spend on upgrades and I'm sure in the full release, specific enemy types will need to die stylishly.

You can also cut through the scenery, even the big bits (as long as they aren't vital to the level design, for obvious reasons) which mostly disappear, as not to bar progress. Everything in the game feels like it has been designed with gameplay in mind, whereas Western developers tend to focus on graphical spectacle, Platinum Games are more interested in giving you a lightning 60FPS and a Katana.

Metal Gear Rising

Even though it is glaringly obvious that this is a Platinum game, it still manages to maintain some of Kojima's inherent weirdness. Firstly, there is the ninja cat: in a game like this what would you do if you saw a cat? Well I tried to kill it (don't judge me) and the furry little so-and-so just kept back-flipping away from me. Then there are the bipedal mechs, the Geckos; named after a lizard, yet they make a kind of Sheep-y, Cow-ish noise.

The events of the game take place four years after Guns of The Patriots, instead of the original plan of the game being a prequel. This decision was made to allow PG more freedom and the story is said to be canon, with Konami handling the story and cutscenes. The story, as far as I can tell from my short time with it, takes a firm back-seat to the action, which can't be a bad thing, although people will stop you for an impromptu Codec chat.

Metal Gear Rising

The real test will be in the learning curve. I hope the combat gets gradually more complex the deeper you go, and with PG's back-catalogue, that seems highly likely. I anticipate seeing some of the alternate weapons available later on, as well as some of the more advanced techniques hardcore players can come up with. My anticipation for the game is not yet solid, but it certainly is rising.

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