Slicing and Dicing
One thing’s clear the moment you use the right stick or face buttons to slash and slice, Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance is not your typical Metal Gear game. While it might bear the Metal Gear name, star Snake’s protégé Raiden and have a plot that involves PMCs (Private Military Company), that’s as far as the relation goes.
In Revengeance, stealth is thrown out the window – save for a few backstabs here and there, the action is frenetic and Raiden doesn’t use his guns or fists but relies on an electrified samurai to deal with foes. If you’ve seen any of the gameplay videos Konami has released so far, you’ll definitely know what I’m talking about. In short, take out everything you know about the Metal Gear franchise, because Revengeance is a whole different element unto itself.
Going into the demo, I knew what I was getting into being a big Metal Gear fan. Sadly, that didn’t help me from having gripes with what I played through.
Before I get criticized for nitpicking or someone assuming that I wanted Revengeance to play exactly like one of Snake’s adventures, I think it’s best if I nip that notion right off the bat. I knew Metal Gear Rising was an action game, I knew it would star Raiden and focus more on action-elements than anything else and I knew it was being developed by Platinum Games instead of Kojima Productions. Unfortunately, knowing isn’t the same thing until you’ve experienced it yourself.
The Pen is Mightier than the Sword
Metal Gear Rising plays like a slasher simulator. You can use the right stick or any of the two face buttons to slash fast or wide. There’s also a “Blade” mode that lets you slash enemies in slow-motion and cutting them into tiny pieces – assuming you have enough juice to trigger it.
Basically that’s the gist of Revengeance’s combat. Sure, you can parry attacks and mix it up, but for the most part, I didn’t really need to. Wait, scratch that, I should really say it didn’t really make me want to. I found the combat a bit dull and unsatisfying, to be honest. And for a game that’s centered on how many combos you can pull of and looking like a badass in doing so, that’s not very reassuring.
Every combo, stab, slice, parry and assault I made felt random and made me feel like I was just jamming buttons as fast I could. Mind you, this is with looking for FAQs and other tips online just to check if I was doing something wrong.
I think one of the reasons for this was the dodgy controls. It was pretty basic enough, but wanting a badass Raiden do badass things just didn’t come off as smoothly as I expected. It felt like I was controlling something that was mired back in the PS2 days. It didn’t help that the in-game tutorial pretty much consisted of teaching you how to use the right stick or face buttons, and letting you know that you had an Augmented Vision mode. Aside from that, the game left you to your own devices, which should be fine for action game enthusiasts, but for the rest of the people just trying it out, I can see them doing a few slashing moves, finishing off enemies and going “is that it?”
Revengeance is a Dish Best Served Cold
Revengeance is an Eastern-developed game trying to appeal to the Western masses, which isn’t a bad thing to do. From the moment a sentence of dialogue is muttered, to the music blaring when you finish an enemy, it has a very different flavor to it which can go either way depending on your preference. And that’s the main contention for Revengeance’s demo: preference. If you’re hankering for some a good action game that DmC failed to scratch, I honestly am not sure if Revengeance will scratch it. Are you a die-hard MGS fan that you’re willing to overlook some of the faults just to dive into the universe again? If so, this Metal Gear might do the trick; but again, I’m not even sure about that.
Ultimately though, I wasn’t impressed with what I’ve played. Running around the sparse environments felt cold and uninviting, the graphics were serviceable but they weren’t making do double-takes either. And its biggest selling point, which is the combat, left me cold and unsatisfied.
Who knows though? This is but a mere 20-minute demo. Maybe the final version will fare better. But seeing as its release is less than a month away, I’m not tempted to get this on day one.
Hopefully, action fans can prove me wrong and Raiden’s sword isn’t as dull as I think it is.
Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance is set for a February 19 release for the Xbox 360 and PS3.