Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance Preview – Slightly Strange
Developer Platinum Games has a taste for the slightly strange, yet with a majestic scope. It recently showed us how to accurately portray a quirky universe in Anarchy Reigns and with Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance (MGR), they’ll take that knowledge to an ambitious project. Fulfilling the wishes of the legions of Metal Gear fans won’t be easy, but luckily they have Raiden to deflect a lot of seriousness. Nobody takes Raiden serious. Nobody should, because this action slasher is all about a gimmick with side elements that may or may not work.
The story sends in Raiden, now completely beefed up with the latest cyborg technology, to a country where some terrorists are, well, terrorizing people. It doesn’t need any more incentives than that, because the voice acting in MGR is cringingly hammy. Luckily, the cutscenes can hold their own visually. Stunning, crisp details show every nook and cranny of Raiden’s mechanized body and light scatters off water onto detailed textures. Even if some of the interface can sometimes feel chaotic due to random lines and boxes appearing, there is still a good overview of the screen with a futuristic feel. An important part of this decent outline is spacing and size. Unlike most games, Platinum Games designs a look with enough width to be clear, but positioned so it stays out of sight.
Speaking of staying out of sight, this Metal Gear will actually not go for the stealth approach. Instead, Raiden runs in front and center to cut up his foes with Blade Mode. This is the main addition and showstopper of this feature. Literally, the camera will snap in close over our ninja’s shoulder and time will slow down. A line on the screen will indicate what direction our hero can cut, which can be alternated by either swooshing around manually or by simply pressing a button. In doing so, enemies will fall into accurately portrayed pieces, right where the cutting line was placed. Additionally, slicing open an enemy can also reveal their core, which can be ripped out with a button prompt that suddenly appears. Triggering this event tears out their self-repair unit and crushes it to drain their juices, which restores health. While Blade Mode is indicated with a depleting gauge, there is plenty of time to perform a flurry of moves and the bar can be easily recovered through fights.
When not ripping through mobs up close, enemies can simply be dispatched with a combination of regular and strong attacks. There isn’t a ton of depth into the combat system, as both options work for most foes, but its simplicity help the pace stay elevated. To add some skill to the mix, it’s possible to parry attacks by precisely striking at the same time as an incoming attack. Unfortunately, the free camera often obscures attacks coming from blind spots. This is equally irksome with platform section. It’s not a terrible flaw, but in multi-leveled fights it can be troublesome to try and find where the blows are coming from. For more visibility, Raiden can use his augmented vision, which lights up enemies in red and shows prompts for mission objectives and items.
Auxiliary items bring additional diversity to the simple combat. There are grenades and rocket launchers that can be used for some big damage. Healing items are used automatically when health is low, so everything is focused towards saving some bits of time to free up, for there are butts to kick.
Enemies come in different sizes and situations. For instance, bipedal mechs will make a notable presence as the iconic robots they are. They can perform powerful kicks that are tough to parry and can temporarily stun. To overcome a stunned state, players must shake their analog stick. Common foot soldiers come in mobs and can be easily dispatched, though some stay out of range to shoot. In order to stay close, Raiden can sprint and deflect bullets. Sprints also automatically try and detect small changes in scenery, which prompt automated skips and such. It doesn’t always work, which can definitely be annoying, but it also automates minor platforming elements. That’s yet more time saved.
Periodically, an interface will appear in front of Raiden’s face and tally a score that determines how many Battle Points a certain section has yielded. It tallies combos, effective techniques and so on, which spurs gamers to do their best at all times, as Battle Points can be used to purchase enhancements.
So far it’s hard to tell whether the simplicity factor will either serve the general theme, like in aforementioned Anarchy Reigns, or destroy it due to serious undertones paired with the terrible acting. Environments are stale and monochrome, but it’s not deterrent to the vibe, as action is a much stronger focus. Automatic locking on some enemies can be confusing, but on the other hand it also keeps the main threat in view, for better or worse. In addition, clever prompts like stealth takedowns and dropping on enemies from above add more close captured flash to an already intensely showy title. Our short time with the demo is definitely not enough to call it either way. It’s a mixed bag that can turn out either which way and will definitely be better or worse based on the beholder’s tastes.
Simple combat doesn’t need to be bad per se. Developer Platinum Games has shown us before that it can create a lot by staying on the surface, so we’re hoping that they’ll do it again with this game. Blade gimmicks aside, Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance has a good focus on action and can be forgiven for a few tarnishes.