Metal Gear Rising preview: Extended hands-on reveals killer MGS game
4th Nov 2012 | 14:00
Four years after the events of
Without Patriot-regulated nanomachines to regulate soldiers' abilities, the PMCs turn to cyborg technology and send half-human super-soldiers onto the battlefield in a world still in the thrall of the war economy. Shoot them and they keep coming, drop a bomb on them and they'll get back up, but slice them in two and there'll be nothing left to fight back.
In 2018 it takes a cyborg to fight a cyborg, so Raiden is assigned to protect the president of the disputed region of a small African nation. In Rising's prologue you'll play as a white-armoured Raiden, protecting the president's motorcade against renegade PMC Desperado Enforcements and their custom Metal Gear Ray mech.
It's a mission you'll have to lose. Like the failed Virtuous Mission back in
"It's a game about action with the katana," says Kojima's producer Yuji Korekado. "So Mr Kojima believed a Japanese developer would be best. It was obvious we had to go to Platinum, but it's still in the Metal Gear Solid timeline. The cutscenes are looked over by Kojima Productions and the script is written by us, so they should all resemble something very similar to what you'll have experienced in the past. And now we finally have something to show to the fans."
"This demo is being played by the public for the first time, so this is the culmination of our art and story direction and Platinum Games' game design. We feel that we've made something great together and we can disprove those guys that have been saying this isn't a real Metal Gear. It's a real Metal Gear."
Our hands-on begins with Raiden infiltrating the Eastern European nation of Abkhazia in scenes reminiscent of Snake's infiltration of Shadow Moses Island, the one-man submarine replaced by a one-man stealth drone flying a few feet above the water. Within seconds of arriving, Raiden is attacked by three Desperado cyborgs using stealth camo - Platinum's solution for spawning in new enemies - and it's time to test your blade skills.
Except wait, because that's not quite the beginning of the demo. Before Raiden enters the city there's an optional tutorial in the classic Metal Gear VR space where you're given instructions on blade work by Doktor - Raiden's constructor and maintenance expert.
RB engages Blade Mode, slowing the world to a crawl and leaving you time to line up a perfect slice with the right stick. A quick flick will cleave the blade through your target, neatly slicing the environment and enemies with clean cuts. They're so clean it's possible to slice a pillar horizontally without it even collapsing, but a few wedge-shaped cuts will bring down towering structures and open new routes to secrets - like the hidden cardboard box only the most obsessive fans managed to find at the Tokyo Game Show.
The box, as always, is a stealth tool. Pop it over your head and Raiden can sneak through the environment, but Rising isn't about avoiding enemies; it's about carving them up. "The game's core is to cut," says Korekado. "It is strictly an action game, but we give players options on how they want to initiate the point of cutting, so you can walk up behind an enemy and cut them slowly. But we've also included ninja run," - a high-speed sprint that carries Raiden over any objects in his path - "and elements that would help players make it easy to close the gap.
"We've left players the option to go in hard and fight with everyone coming at you, but we also leave a few pathways to come in behind and kill an enemy in a stealthy way."
Striking stealthily is the only way to rescue civilians under armed guard, and even with a one-button takedown, Raiden gets to cut, cut, cut - aiming at the cyborg's spine to retrieve his power source and his left arm to retrieve his personal data recorder. Hitting the core nets you health and hitting the arm earns you points for upgrades; hitting both should be your objective every time.
Like Platinum's last major action game,
"Mistral uses Dwarf Gekkos as a weapon and as her allies," Korekado explains, as the multi-armed cyborg stitches a half-dozen Gekko arms together into a long staff. "You attack her weapon until you break her guard, then go into Blade Mode to hit a perfect slice on her staff's weak point to create an opening." It's here Korekado demonstrates some of Raiden's late-game moves, like the Bayonetta-style diving kick - a trick she learned from
In another moment shown exclusively to CVG, White Raiden takes on the customised Metal Gear Ray, body-slamming the entire mech by one of its sword-arms before being blasted into the face of a clock tower by Ray's murder-laser. As Ray launches a missile barrage, Raiden sprints down the tower's side, dodging incoming missiles as the tower collapses around him and the clock face tumbles through the air.
Some reckon Platinum have gone too far, but it's not the first time we've seen him fight like a superhuman. In MGS4, an armless Raiden fought an army with a sword clenched between his teeth, then held back a city-sized battleship on the shores of Shadow Moses just by digging his heels in. Insanity is a Metal Gear staple.
"Our main vision was to create something that only Platinum Games could create as an action game," says game director, Kenji Saito. "When Kojima Productions were making their game, they started seeing the limitations of what their action game can do. When that happened they started referring to
After saving the detained civilian, carefully stealth-slicing his captor through the spine and left arm, we advance on a checkpoint further down the road where we're attacked by a full-sized Gekko and a handful of cyborgs in the first real test of Raiden's abilities. Attacking the Gekko's chassis or legs will weaken it to the point it can be cleaved with Blade Mode, but later you'll discover that like almost every other enemy in the game, it can be stealth- killed with a single hit.
While Raiden goes to war in Abkhazia, his support team at Maverick Enforcements keeps him appraised of the state of play. Boris is the game's Colonel Campbell and Raiden's boss, Kevin is your military advisor, Courtney is the girl who'll save your game and Doktor is your expert on sci-fi tech.
Raiden's fifth helper won't join him until after the first mission. LQ-84i is a state-of-the-art AI-controlled robot built to defend Abkhazia, in a world where AI tech was perfected in the early seventies. Known as Bladewolf, the AI has been reprogrammed by Desperado and is Rising's first boss fight - the first real test of Raiden's parrying skills. A good parry, executed by pressing towards an enemy and hitting Y and timed perfectly will leave Bladewolf disabled, but an early parry will only cancel the hit and leave you in a stalemate.
When the fight is done, Bladewolf's conflicted programming convinces Raiden to return what's left of the mech to Doktor where his original programming is restored, as the demo wraps up.
"Bladewolf will be more of a support role in the game," says Saito. "He moves forward without Raiden to gather intelligence for him. He won't be in battle situations, but he will gather map information and recon that Raiden will be able to use." In a sense, he's what Gray Fox was to Snake in MGS1, what Snake was to Raiden in MGS2, what EVA was to Big Boss in MGS3, and what Naomi was to Old Snake in MGS4. It's another Metal Gear moment revived for the first in-continuity Metal Gear made outside of Kojima Productions.
"We specialise in action games," says Platinum games director and producer Atsushi Inaba. "Our dialogue is spoken in action and it's not complicated - you touch the controller and if it sucks, it sucks. But if it feels good, it's a good game, and I think worldwide, everyone feels the same about that. So whether it's Japanese or English I believe that it's all, all over the world, the same.
"Mr Kojima said only a Japanese studio could make a game about the katana work, but I think it's more than just a cultural thing," Korekado explains. "I think the katana kind of symbolises our partnership. We want to cut into a new age together - two Japanese studios combining to rock the world. It isn't just that the katana comes from Japan, it's that this weapon is our weapon. It's the focus of our collaboration and the tool we'll use to cut into something new. That's what Mr Kojima was saying, and we strongly believe that."