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Metal Gear Rising preview: Extended hands-on reveals killer MGS game

Japan's greatest devs combine forces

Four years after the events of Metal Gear Solid 4, the Patriots have been destroyed and the private military companies have collapsed into dozens of smaller factions.

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.

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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 Metal Gear Solid 3, the bodyguard detail ends in defeat when a cyborg swordsman named Sam shatters Raiden's cyborg body and takes his left eye. This is where our hands-on with the Tokyo Game Show demo begins. Raiden is equipped with a new, stronger black armour and backed by a support crew he can hail by codec at any time.

"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."

CUTTING EDGE

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.

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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.

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