When Metal Gear Rising was announced, I was admittedly skeptical. I’m sure a lot of people were. Kojima Productions, the game studio that brought us the Metal Gear Solid series — a stealth treasure rife with the most delightfully tedious of mechanics — was offering up a hack and slash game with one of the series’ most divisive characters. Stranger yet, the legendary Hideo Kojima said the game would be an action experience, but it would also be playable as a stealth experience. I thought, They’re either going to create something crazy-awesome or totally blow it.
Well, it looked like they may have totally blown it, because after a long silence, no one knew where the game was. However, like a godsend, Rising was back — this time under the entirely ridiculous, typically Japanese-influenced subtitle, Revengeance. Kojima Productions went to Platinum Games, the action developers lauded for their original IPs Bayonetta and Vanquish, and they gave them the opportunity to revive what was a silently shutdown project.
So, what’s become of ? As many can tell from the trailers, it’s now a mere shell of the ultra-surgically precise, ultra-meditated watermelon slice play, becoming something much quicker and downright insane. That’s not to say the deliberate slicing mechanic is gone – it’s still around. In fact, they’ve got some interesting slice play worked into the game. Raiden’s sword can be mastered for the sake of taking out enemies more tactfully or with greater purpose by controlling the stroke direction with the right stick. For example, there’s a mysterious collector of sorts who rewards Raiden for bringing back cybernetic limbs for research, upgrading Raiden’s abilities and weapons.
The demo that I played started off in a virtual reality room. It gave me the opportunity to learn a bit about Raiden’s controls, cut up some watermelon and oogle at the character models – and they are fantastic. As I made my way through the VR training and into the meat of the demo, I was pleasantly greeted with rich textures and well-designed environments. I was slightly disappointed by the emptiness of the world, only inhabited by enemies. I suppose if the sky was falling, citizens would have “peaced out” as soon as possible, but I’m hoping the game itself proves a richer world that isn’t seemingly only inhabited by PMCs and cybernetic mercenaries.
It should be completely obvious, but this did not feel like a Metal Gear Solid game as I was playing it. Gone were the tedious details of memorizing patrol patterns, reassessing the battlefield with every step forward and sticking to the shadows. During my chat with Yuji Korekado of Kojima Productions, he pointed out that, “Stealth is not so much hide and seek this time around, but it is possible to take out enemies unseen by being quick and using Raiden’s cybernetic advantages”. While Raiden is indeed powerful as a cybernetic soldier, the game can get overwhelming with too many alerted guards.
In fact, that’s one of my concerns for the game: Raiden feels so powerful. I almost imagine that the difficulty may be more in being overwhelmed by enemies than actual tactical challenge. Throughout my experience, I felt like there was enough to explore and learn that I never felt like I had the game licked, so it’s hard to say at this point if the challenge will be a fair and rounded one. While I remain wary, I am also equally optimistic.
The enemies seen in the demo ranged from the suited baddies introduced in recent trailers, mini-geckos (those delightful frog mechs that bleed and “moo” like cows) and even a robotic wolf (much like a smaller, fully autonomous version of crying wolf from Metal Gear Solid 4). The wolf actually plays a role in the story, becoming a companion for Raiden after he defeats and repairs him. The wolf isn’t used offensively, but more so for the purpose of gaining intelligence and moving along the battlefield. In what way is yet to be seen – this is just what I’m told by Mr. Korekado. Paint me intrigued.
The demo was largely playing sections that we’ve seen in videos. Lots of bloody slashing (gore galore, I’m thrilled to report), mechs of the wackiest design and high-flying action that every asset along the way has promised us. The million dollar question is this: Did the demo make a believer out of me? Well, as a fan of the Metal Gear Solid series, I was already interested, but after playing, I’m now a buyer. I can’t say whether or not the full experience will hold a candle to other Kojima games, but I do know that the slashing felt satisfying, the core goal of the design, according to Yuji.
Kojima Productions set out to expand their rich world of Metal Gear, and they wanted to make an action game centered on a character they find to be just as compelling as Snake. Inspired by the heroic cutscene where Raiden makes mince of dozens of geckos in Metal Gear Solid 4, Kojima saw potential. It took Platinum Games to save their vision, and from where I’m sitting, we’re better off for having it saved. Even greater yet, Yuji Korekado hopes that this vision will come together, because he and Kojima Productions feel there are even more possibilities yet for entirely different kinds of games for the series. Cheers to that future.