E3 2012 – Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance Hands-on First Impressions

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E3 2012 – Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance Hands-on First Impressions

To say I’ve been skeptical about Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance would be an understatement.  That isn’t to say I think it’s going to be a bad game, mind you, but since development of the title shifted from Kojima Productions to Platinum Games, one big concern has plagued me.

Does Revengeance fit within the Metal Gear universe?

I figured my chance to demo the game at E3 2012 would be the opportunity to finally be able to judge whether Platinum could deliver a true Metal Gear game.  Unfortunately, even after getting hands-on with the game, I have to say that I am still quite skeptical.

Before everyone starts gathering the pitchforks, I am still not saying that the game will be bad.  In fact, based on gameplay alone, Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance looks impressive and I eagerly await its release.  But the E3 presentation fell short in a critical area: details of the plot, traditionally rather important to Metal Gear.

Gameplay Impressions

While the E3 demo was a bit rough around the edges, it’s apparent that Platinum Games knows how to make an exciting game with solid gameplay and intuitive mechanics.

Since the release of the VGA 2011 trailer back in December, my biggest concern has been that Platinum is turning Rising into a generic, hack-n-slash Devil May Cry clone.  While the game is a bit of a hack-n-slash, it was interesting to see how Platinum applied this concept to the Metal Gear franchise. Raiden’s arsenal includes your standard hack-n-slash light and heavy attacks, but also the more impressive “Blade Mode,” slowing down time to allow the player to deliver a barrage of precisely-aimed strokes for as long as Raiden’s power meter lasts.

In Blade Mode, the player has full control over the “free cutting” aspect of the game, allowing you to cut whatever you wish and dissect enemies into several small pieces.  Furthermore, certain enemies carry power cells inside them, which once extracted by a precise stroke can be used to heal Raiden’s injuries.

The game flows very well, thanks to the combination of Blade Mode, standard attacks, and Raiden’s Ninja Run technique (wall-running and -scaling). I’m eager to see what gameplay tricks experienced players can accomplish after some time to hone their skills. But it’s important to note that the game is very clearly a (very solid, impressive) straight action game, as opposed to the stealth gameplay of prior Metal Gear games.

There is a bit of stealth gameplay in Revengeance. Unlike games like Devil May Cry and Bayonetta, Raiden can sneak up to enemies and kill them stealthily – and the game rewards players for managing to do this and avoiding alerts, as a gesture to the franchise’s stealth roots. Still, the demo makes it clear: this is not a Metal Gear Solid title, but something quite different within the Metal Gear universe.

But details on the plot remain sketchy. Revengeance takes place a few years after the end of Metal Gear Solid 4, and the post-Patriots world has fallen on dark times.  Raiden is now affiliated with Maverick Security, a peace-keeping Private Military Company dedicated to protecting the innocent.  However, in his attempt to save lives, Raiden will have to face his own dark past.

In other words, we know very, very little. Kojima Productions may be at the story’s helm, but the question of whether the narrative fits the Metal Gear universe’s tone and pedigree remains open. A demo is set to launch alongside the Zone of the Enders HD Collection. Only time will tell what’s in Raiden’s future.

Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance is set to launch in early 2013.