Metal Gear Rising Revengeance: E3 demo slices up rivals and cubes critics
6th Jun 2012 | 06:11
With its ridiculous subtitle, madcap setting and fan-defying desertion of the series' stealthy roots, it's easy to groan about Metal Gear Rising Revengeance - but we *defy* anyone to care when you're slicing up a car finer than processed cat food in thrilling slow motion.
Bottom line: Platinum Games' - of Bayonetta fame - MGS spin off makes you feel amazing. *Amazing*. It's one of those game whose sheer mechanics make you smile, and burn long in the memory long after you've put down the pad. It's just so much *fun*, you almost feel ashamed for E3's parade of identikit shooters with their lumpen, derivative controls and curiously sterile Hollywood action.
20 seconds into our hands-on, we're squaring up to a cardboard cut out. Ok, it doesn't *sound* exciting, but tap L2 to draw your high frequency blade and you can use the left stick to target any point of your foe using a tiny crosshair. Focus on, say, its head, and you use the right stick to sweep your blade, a bit like swinging in Tiger Woods. On a sheerly physical level, it's intuitive and fun - targets split precisely where you cut them - but the really good bit comes when you experiment.
Precision slicing is *fine*, but if you waggle the right stick in all directions, Raiden weaves his blade in a frenzy, cutting precisely where the blade hits. Better yet, the action seems to slow down as you whip your blade around faster, creating a gut tightening intensity. When you release L2, the action whips into real-time and you get to see the results of your actions. In this case, a cardboard man sliced finer than confetti. It's quite possible to score 97 hit slice combos, or even higher.
The opening section is a grand tutorial, and in no time you've moved from slicing cardboard foes to *cars*. The effect is the same - a frenzied mega swipe, and the car collapses into cubes, a bit like the infamous laser grid scene in the largely turgid Resident Evil movie.
You get to slice up melons, too. One *enormous* one - y'know, for fun - plus some small 'uns to practice precision. Some targets have sweet spots which score extra points and damage, but are hard to target in the heat of action. Some cardboard foes hold hostages, so it seems safe to presume you'll need a steady hand later on to avoid *posting*, say, the president's daughter in a cardboard box.
In no time, you move into true combat with live foes, where the game reveals its debt to Bayonetta. Mash (square) and Raiden launches into furious, balletic combos, all deliciously framed for maximum iconic effect, with a delightful feeling of impact - at some points, Raiden even leans back and uses blades on his feet. Standard foes act as sword fodder, but dispatching them is a creative delight, as you mix and match button thrashing combos with precision trigger strikes.
The game also subtly integrates QTE events for maximum cinematic pay off, like holding square + triangle to do a special move. Raiden whacks his foe up into the air, and the action auto-cuts to precision mode, so you can, say, slice a foe's head clean off in slow motion to reveal his brain before he hits the floor. It sounds gratuitous, and it *is*, but never abhorrent - more like an insane, OTT, samurai fantasy. As foes wise up, you need to use parrying (triangle) to block before launching into combos, or jump into attacks by tapping x. Intuitive, yet deep. You know, like Bayonetta, but with even more iconic characters and MGS's rich universe.
The demo asks you to retrieve some key codes to unlock a terminal. You simply follow a radar dot to the correct foe - he's hiding in a box, naturally - until you slash it to bits, and he drops the codes. Tap circle to pick them up, and access the terminal. This brings a huge, terrifying, bipedal Gecko into the action, as seen in the war torn streets of MGS4, like agile Metal Gears. They resist instant precision strikes, and need to be smashed into vulnerable positions, so you can use rapid QTEs to vault onto their heads and impale your sword in their nerve centres. The action is seamless and, simply, makes you feel like a badass.
Precision strikes on hot spots cause foes to drop pick ups, which we presume boost energy and help you level up - a version of the 'Zen Datsu' cut-and-take mechanic from the game's original incarnation, before Platinum took over. Before our demo came to an end, we got to sample some gameplay diversity - the screen twists to an angle, and you need to sprint (via R2) to dodge incoming choppers as the ground collapses behind you. In truth, this bit was a bit fiddly played in E3 show conditions, and we died three times.
You only need to look at the E3 trailer to realise that there's a lot more going on. The plot threatens to reveal the origins of Raiden, with glimpses of him as Jack, a child soldier. There's even a few glimpses of 'stealth' as Raiden stalks rooftops, impaling his foes from above. Expect boss fights to be *insane*, with dramatic camera pans, frequent QTEs and no small measure of skill.
You might wish MG Rising Revengeance was a 'proper' MGS game, but this is wilfully different - and potentially something quite spectacular. We can't remember the last brawler, or action game, that felt so good, or paid such attention to the details that make you feel truly heroic - like the way the camera skews after a dramatic kill, and Raiden flushes out his arms with nonchalant majesty. Well, perhaps Bayonetta... you get the idea.
MG Rising Revengeance is due early 2013, but you can get hands-on with the demo bundled with the forthcoming ZOE HD collection. Far from a 'cut price' MGS, this could be the most exciting action game in years.