Metal Gear is at its best when it's at its most absurd. Though the initial Metal Gear Solid kept most of its storyline serious, MGS2 forgoes almost any sense of reality. There may always be a pseudoscience justification for the insanity, but the explanations feel like thin justification for rampant imagination. As an example, MGS2 introduces a transplanted arm taking over its host body, government conspiracies out to frame Solid Snake, a woman who can deflect bullets with her mind, and even a canonical vampire. That's what we love about Metal Gear, though. You never know what to expect, but you know it will entertaining and worth the wait.
With that in mind, what better studio for Kojima Productions to work with than Platinum Games? They are, after all, the developers of Bayonetta, a game that involves high-heel guns, a protagonist dressed in her hair, and killer moves that manipulate said hair into massive beasts. It's the collaboration everyone wanted, but nobody could think of.
That’s what makes Metal Gear Rising: Reveangence an exciting project. With a storyline managed by Kojima productions and gameplay built by Platinum Games, no matter what they come up with, it's sure to be memorable. The glimpses of Metal Gear Rising that we have received seem to back up that belief. The public demo alone gives us a taste of what Platinum and Kojima have in store. From Raiden being shot out of a plane like a missile to taking down multiple metal gear gekkos — a mini-metal gear introduced in MGS4 — using only a sword, Rising appears to be hitting all the notes one would desire. If that's the demo, it's hard to imagine what they have cooked up for the full game.
In addition to whatever Platinum and Kojima have put together thematically, Metal Gear Rising's combat impresses on its own. The action is fast paced, brutal, and always nudges you in the direction that makes you feel skilled and powerful. The combat won't hold your hand, but it will ensure that you look awesome no matter the situation. Basic combat looks similar to other character action games like Devil May Cry or God of War, but Rising excels through the new mechanics that make it unique.
Rising's kill moves are the game's biggest power fantasy and reward. After dealing a sufficient amount of damage to an enemy, you may be prompted to enter free blade mode. While in this mode, you have control of where Raiden will slash his sword within a 360 degree circle. Wherever you cut will accurately affect the enemy with gruesome results. Free blade mode puts you in a position of ultimate power over your foes, and let's you decide how much or how little you want to hack into your opposition. Though you start off slicing into cyborg gunmen, the game shines when you start cutting apart gekkos and other mechanical beasts. It’s an excellent release to a hard-fought battle.
Additionally, slicing foe to pieces is the best way to regain Raiden's health. Because the enemies are all mechanical in some way, they may carry a glowing blue pack that Raiden can use to re-energize himself. The pack's similarity to a human's spinal column is no accident I presume, and adds to the over-the-top brutality Rising presents. A similar mechanic can be seen in Warhammer 40,000 Space Marine, where your hand-to-hand kill moves on infantry units refills your health. In both games, it allows the you to continue combat without being hindered by med-pack hunting.
Though it had a tough development cycle, Metal Gear Rising appears to have escaped its vaporware fate with style. With Kojima Productions and Platinum Games working together, anything could happen. What we've seen of the gameplay assures us that whatever story they have cooked up, it will be seated on the back of solid, memorable combat. Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance hits store shelves February 19th, and we’re excited to cut into it when it’s finally in our hands.