Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance Hands-on (Xbox360)

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Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance sure has had a tough time over the years. After first being announced back in 2009, the action game was originally known simply as Metal Gear Solid: Rising but after a tumultuous development period and a switch in lead development studios, the game re-emerged as Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance – a game with less of a focus on stealth and an injection of many more crazy set-piece events.

Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance Screenshot 1

Now in the works at Platinum Games (Bayonetta, Vanquish) under the watchful eyes of Konami and Kojima Productions, Revengeance stars everybody’s favourite (or second favourite) sword-wielding cyborg from the Metal Gear Solid universe, Raiden, and after getting some hands-on time with the game during gamescom 2012, it’s clear that Platinum has signed its hallmark over-the-top action signature on every last bit of the experience.

Starting out in a quick tutorial area, I was able to very easily get comfortable with the main gameplay conceit of Revengeance, the slicing mechanic, which (as far as I can tell) allows you to dynamically aim and cut an object (or enemy) at any point you decide on. Entering Blade Mode (with the hold of a button), time slows down and you can aim in the direction you want to slice using the right analogue stick, with the help of an on-screen indicator to show you what line you’re going to cut. As soon as you exit Blade Mode your chosen slice will be performed.

It’s possible to input several slices before exiting Blade Mode, but this is dictated by how much time you’ve got left in a special meter, limiting how often you’re able to slice and dice objects in slow motion.

Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance Screenshot 2

The tutorial section only allowed me to test my newfound skills against watermelons and practice dummies (like the originally shown tech demo for the game), but quickly moving out into the real battlefield, I soon got to go up against moving fodder.

The action took place in what appeared to be an abandoned amusement park, with the remnants of a ruined city as a backdrop. The area was completely overgrown with out-of-control trees, grass and bushes having seeped into the concrete courtyards and steel fences years ago. Visually, Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance is looking very good, and character detail in particular is impressive – definitely what you would expect from a game originally headed up by Kojima Productions.

With a silent Ferris wheel in the background, I faced off against what I originally thought to be human soldiers, using a combination of light and heavy melee attacks, and a devastating kick attack (Raiden has blades on his boots, ala Bayonetta), before giving the Blade Mode another go against a ‘live’ opponent.

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Time slowed down and I made my cuts, both by aiming and releasing the stick and by exiting and entering Blade Mode consecutively, and once I was done, the mess of gibs slid apart and tumbled to the floor. For a game about severing things in two, it’s all a lot more harmless than you might expect with minimal amounts of blood (although this could simply have been because it was a demo for the German public – trailers I’ve seen have included healthy amounts of crimson liquid).

Trying the same tactic again on another soldier, a prompt flashed up on screen urging me to hit ‘B.’ I dutifully mashed the face button and I was rewarded with a quick animation where Raiden reaches ‘into’ his opponent and removes what looks like a glowing blue spinal cord. After crushing the flailing item, Raiden’s Blade Mode meter is filled up again, which means more time to hack enemies to pieces.

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Why I was encountering enemies in this forsaken European city wasn’t quite explained, but I didn’t exactly have a lot of time to think on the quandary thanks to a surprise attack by a creature well-known to players of Metal Gear Solid 4 – the walking tank Gekko enemy. I’m still creeped out by the appearance (and mere existence) of these monstrosities, so I was happy to melee attack the beast into submission before entering a Quick Time Like event for a cinematic flourish of blades and fancy manoeuvres to finish it off. That’s one less Gekko in the world and it’s a better place for it.

Gameplay in Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance isn’t all sword-based, either, and you’ll be able to effortlessly vault obstacles and climb to higher positions by holding a controller trigger and moving forward into walls and barriers to let Raiden automatically take care of the rest, using a similar ‘driving’ system to the Assassin’s Creed series.

Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance Screenshot 5

Raiden will also be given the chance to carry projectile weaponry, too, and I was able to wield a rocket launcher to whittle down the health of a very adamant helicopter gunship before entering into one of the more insane Quick Time Events on offer. As you fight against the helicopter, it tends to rain down a series of missiles on your position, at which time you’re able to leap into the air and hop from missile to missile (if you time your button presses correctly) to make your way to the helicopter hovering in the air above.

When I reached the gunship, it was time to enter Blade Mode and hack that hulking metallic fiend to bits, sending it crashing to the ground in an ultra satisfying explosion while Raiden took a moment to pose facing the camera as the wreck blazed in the background.

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In-between missions, you’re given a rank based on your performance, but seeing as how the demo was in German I wasn’t’ quite able to make out what was going on. The ranks are letter-based and it seems as though you earn points that go towards an upgrade system.

Every new level you enter is stylising introduced as the area is ‘initialised’ and scanned with a digital overlay, but the very last level of the demo that I entered was unfortunately cut short despite the exciting prospect of battling a towering behemoth of an enemy, Metal Gear Ray. As the brute crashed down to earth in the midst of a city on fire and roared as though enacting a battle cry, the demo faded to black and my time with Revengeance was up. Aw.

Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance Screenshot 7

Despite the brevity of the demo, the experience of playing Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance felt incredibly ‘full’ and rewarding as I went from Tutorial Newcomer to Gunship Destroyer in under 15 minutes. Movement is ultra responsive and your reflexes will need to be up to the task if you want to survive the more intense enemy encounters. The automatic ‘Ninja Run’ environment navigation system, too, made me feel as though I was controlling a skilled ninja assassin, even though I was only holding a button and moving forward.

Worryingly, though, a sequence in the demo had me running towards the camera (with more of an angled isometric view) as missiles obliterated a bridge behind me and I was forced to outmanoeuvre the rockets, as well as obstacles along the way, making for a slightly frustrating minute or two.

Also, there appears to be no readily available ‘evasion’ move to duck out of the way of enemy attacks, but as I mentioned, the demo was in German so perhaps I missed a trick (although I did try a few different button combinations).

Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance Screenshot 8

Releasing on February 19th in the US and February 22nd in Europe and the UK across Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 (with a PC version being considered), Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance will act as another example of Platinum Games’ wonderfully over-the-top approach to gameplay and set-pieces, and with Kojima Productions providing design and story input, I’m certainly looking forward to settling into some more crazy action and narrative arcs next year.

Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance – Gameplay Trailer

Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance Screenshot 9