E3 2012: Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance hands-on
It's odd how Metal Gear's Raiden has grown as a character. Many fans of the series were initially upset to see the silver-haired pretty boy replacing Snake in Metal Gear Solid 2, though his re-appearance as the undeniably badass cyber-samurai of MGS4 seems to have earned him enough cred to warrant another go as protagonist. Of course, it took a bit of work to get Raiden back in the saddle, with Metal Gear Rising having spent many months on the brink of cancellation before action-adventure masterminds Platinum Games stepped in to help out. Given this troubled history, some have rightfully wondered whether Revengeance will truly be worth of the Metal Gear name. Though after playing through the closed-door build prepared for E3 2012, I can assure fans that Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance is both a damn fine entry in the Metal Gear lineup, and my pick for game of the show.
The Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance demo started off with a bit of target practice, allowing me to get a feel for the game's basic controls while ripping through cardboard cutouts and giant watermelons. Though mashing the action buttons results in a satisfyingly frenzied attack combo, the game places a heavy focus on using Raiden's "Blade Mode," allowing for some seriously awesome slow-mo sword slashing. Somehow, the game manages to give every object actual mass, meaning anywhere you cut while in blade mode, will cause the object to split apart along those lines. Consider that in most games, the best you'll get is a cartoonish spray of blood and a generic enemy slumping over. Here, your enemies are literally being diced to pieces, and truly sadistic players will enjoy seeing how finely they can chop up the bad guys before running out of slow motion juice.
After slicing through the assorted targets (and one unlucky cyborg hiding in a cardboard box), it was off to some real action, with a squad of cyborg soldiers lining up to have Raiden kick their ass. After running the slice-and-dice routine on an enemy, a button prompt allowed Raiden to rip out the enemy's weird glowing spine thing, camera cinematically positioning itself as our samurai hero crushed the essential organ, enemy majestically exploding behind him. It was a damn cool scene, dripping with Metal Gear's cinematic flare (with the added benefit of helping fill the Blade Mode meter). Admittedly, it was a bit less cool the third or fourth time we saw it in the same fight, though it wasn't enough of a break in the action to become a major annoyance.
Following our dispatching of the grunts, another familiar enemy made itself seen: MGS4's Gekko. The big robot had an impressive little cutscene to announce himself, though it seemed dropping into Blade Mode was all that I needed to immediately take care of the baddie. Afterwards, I got a chance to try out Raiden's ninja dash abilities, tearing ass across a crumbling bridge as the helicopter behind me rained down hell. A short QTE sequence had Raiden jamming his sword into the edge of some demolished pavement and hanging on for dear life, though my button mashing skills soon had him up and into the final challenge: taking on this rogue helicopter pilot.
Scattered about the battlefield were a few minor grunts, protecting some caches of rocket-propelled grenades. While using the new dash ability to dodge incoming helicopter missiles, I quickly dispatched the lone cyborgs and shouldered the RPG, using some rockets of my own to bring the chopper down to Raiden's level. The chopper would take a few seconds to get the blades whirling again, allowing Raiden to get in some serious damage with his blade attacks. Once the helicopter returned to the air, a Konami rep filled me in on an even more sweet path to victory, using the Blade Mode's slow-mo to actually hop across a bridge of incoming missiles and slice the chopper right out of the sky. Literally slicing a helicopter in half has to be one of the coolest things I've ever experienced in a game, and it's Metal Gear's knack for such wickedly awesome moments that has me excited for what else Revengeance has in store.
Following my sweet helicopter destruction, Konami brand manger Kevin Vlaming offered me one American dollar if I could take out the final boss without dying. The game's demo suddenly slipped into the future, Raiden now standing before a wall of flames, from which suddenly emerged the massive Metal Gear Ray.
Then the demo ended abruptly, along with my hopes of winning that money. Tell you what, Kevin, that was a decent joke, but you can keep your dollar. In return, you find me a copy of Metal Gear Rising, which is honestly shaping up to be the one of the best action games in years. We'll be looking forward to seeing more of Raiden as the game prepares for release in early 2013.