Hopefully tomorrow I come up with something nice again, but today I was just dead again.
Small correction: It’s Metal Gear RISING, not Solid.
This could have been more timely, but honestly, I kept forgetting I had the thing. So while I’m sure most of the more trusted outlets have already weighed in on this hilariously titled new installment of Konami’s alternatingly dramatic and slapstick “Tactical Espionage Action” series, I just know that you’re probably still on the fence and waiting for my expert opinion. For those not familiar already, Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance is being developed by the people responsible for Bayonetta, doubtless due to their subtle and realistic touches on the action genre. I can’t think of a better group to be in charge of an installment of a game in a series predicated upon stealth. So, here it is.
Firstly: Holy shit, does this demo take a while to install. I wrote, proofread, re-wrote, and made some raspberry lemonade in the time it took to install. I was kind of expecting it to simply run off of the Zone of the Enders HD disk since they went through the trouble of giving it a physical distribution. In all seriousness, it took longer for my demo to install than the ‘infamous’ 7-minute data install required by MGS4. I wouldn’t mind that in and of itself if not for the relative shortness of the demo run, hell, I thought this was going to be one of those “We’re going to make you install the entire game then pay for an unlock code later.”
I suppose that’s all pretty inconsequential if the game is good, right? Well, yeah, it is pretty decent stuff, even though it doesn’t feel very much like Metal Gear. They make nods, and yeah, you are controlling Raiden, but this is pretty obviously Platinum’s baby. It feels something like it should be a spin-off of Vanquish. Raiden is even hot in pursuit of another cyborg ninja named Sam. You’ll see Gekkos from MGS4, and the events in the game are occuring as a result of the fall of the Patriots, but things have a brighter, slicker look to them that kind of ‘cartoonifies’ them a bit.
(That isn’t a compaint.)
Raiden’s actually something of a cyber vampire ninja, so bonus points for that. Your health pickups will come in the form of ‘electrolytes’ absorbed from the body fluids of slain enemy cyborgs. The biggest gimmick that the game engine brings with it is that by holding L1, you are given a full range of motion to slice and dice enemies with your blade, allowing you to dice enemies into little pieces in bullet time, or in a delicate situation, cut through an enemy holding a hostage without harming the prisoner, too. There’s a stereotypical German ‘Doktor’ in your support team who will offer you upgrades in exchange for bringing home the left arms of cyborgs. You are also able to make use of Wannabe Detective Vision for spotting enemies and civillians, and equip found sub weapons. It does still maintain a whiff of classic stealth gameplay in that you can get the jump on enemies by attacking from behind if they haven’t spotted you, and they left an Alert timer in play once you’ve started a brawl. For the most part though, it’s going to be a lot of hacking and slashing, as you’re told right off the bat. It feels very much like another Platinum brawler, though not quite as smooth as Bayonetta. It can be tough to do precision sword strikes in mid fight, but for the most part it’s best to save them for finishing blows. By striking the ‘square’ inside an enemy, you can trigger a ‘Zandatsu’ quick-time event and regain health, but if you’re not great at it, taking time-out to play Fruit Ninja with a moving, hostile soldier when you desperately need a health pickup could have some frustrating potential.
Overall, it didn’t seem very challenging on Normal until I hit the boss, which in the end only gave me trouble because I was misinterpreting the ‘PARRY’ instruction on the screen (I was trying to tilt the stick toward the enemy when the game ACTUALLY wanted the stick clicked in.) Seemed to control pretty well til the boss, kept getting hung up on background elements since the camera stays locked onto the enemy. The support team seemed pretty decent, and the story’s got a shot at being good since it’s in the Metal Gear-verse, but I can’t help but get the feeling that this one’s going to end up like another Godhand or Vanquish- beloved by the people who ‘get it,’ but attract a lot of detractors for being different than the norm. I look forward to seeing how the full version turns out.
For those curious, there was only so much of the series’ signature verbosity that can fit in about a 20 minute demo (not counting deaths and cutscenes, that sounds about right.) But it did end on a robot dog pondering the meaning of “freedom,” so I’m sure people who like that part of Metal Geardom will probably be alright with the final script. Me, I want more Big Boss.