First word of warning: if you’re expecting a typical Metal Gear gameplay experience from Konami’s forthcoming Rising Revengeance, you won’t quite get it. Sure, there are some stealth elements that will recall the more sophisticated games of the series, but Platinum Games, the developer behind such over-the-top affairs as Bayonetta and Anarchy Reigns, is going with a full-on action approach here. Plus, there’s no sign of Snake – this is all Raiden’s show.
The cybernetic warrior finds the odds turned against him throughout the course of the game, not only facing terrorizing automations that range from a Metal Gear Ray to a powerful wolf, but also soldiers of his own ilk, who work for Desperado Enterprises and have their own plans in store. With this, it’s probably best to get a hang of what gameplay techniques Raiden is capable of over the course of his adventure. But it’s not just a matter of slicing and dicing with a few taps of the button – it’s all about seeing how you combine them with your other moves.
Not to say the combat isn’t fulfilling. It certainly is. Over the course of the game, Raiden is able to put together some fantastic moves, whether it’s performing some vicious kicking attacks on foes (including a chained-together high kick maneuver) or using his plasma sword to rip enemies apart. He can also use other techniques from a defensive point of view, both of which we’ll cover now.
The first, evasion, is an action basic. Someone’s going to stomp on you or come down on you with a strike, you’ll naturally want to get out of the way to take damage. So, Raiden can either ninja run out of the way or quickly jump aside, let the attack come down, and counter-attack if they’re open.
The second, parrying, is a bit more fun, and effective when it comes to getting even. Here, you’ll need to hit the attack button at just the right time to fend off an incoming strike, and if you do so, you’ll see it deflect off your blade, leaving the enemy temporarily open for a counter maneuver. It takes some practice to master this, unless you have the game activated in easy mode, in which case it’s a complete breeze to pull off – at least, from what we played in the demo.
Now let’s elaborate more on the ninja run. You utilize this by holding down the right trigger button, which sets Raiden off on a sprint. Not only is this useful for pursuing enemies or quickly getting the jump on a guard whose back is turned, but it’s also quite effective when you’ve got a flail of bullets coming at you, as they automatically deflect once it’s turned on. You can also scale up walls and escape from incoming enemies with the trigger held down – and in some cases, like if a helicopter is in hot pursuit, you’ll need to.
The game also comes with a fair amount of quick-time event-like prompts, such as hitting a button to plant your sword into a bridge before you drop off, or activating blade mode to deliver a finishing blow by holding down the left trigger. They’re seldom, but in some cases, rather useful. For instance, if you’re low on energy, in the midst of Blade Mode, you can press the B (or circle) button and grab their energy source, recharging Raiden in the process.
Ah, Blade Mode – probably Revengeance’s coolest feature. Here, the action slows down tremendously, opening up the opportunity to slash your enemies with pinpoint accuracy. To start it off, simply hold down the left trigger, and use the left analog stick to target your enemy. Once they’re in your range, use the right analog stick in back and forth motions, depending which way you want to slice (up/down for vertical, left/right for horizontal), and you’ll see your enemy hacked to pieces. You don’t always have to stay on the straight and narrow- you can slash by varying degrees, and you’ll see a glowing neon line where your slice will end up.
On some tougher foes, like walkers and bosses, you’ll need to do a significant amount of damage until they glow blue, which leaves them wide open for a Blade Mode finisher. (NOTE: Blade Mode does require charging in order to execute, but picking up energy from fallen foes should rectify this nicely.)
Finally, though the game is heavy on the action, Platinum Games hasn’t forgotten their roots, and threw in some optional stealth for good measure. It’s a matter of getting a sneak on enemy by flanking them or slowly approaching them, then delivering a powerful blow to keep them from alerting others. In some cases, you’ll also get to use a cardboard box – an oldie but goodie prop from the Metal Gear universe. Granted, if stealth isn’t your thing, you can just charge in and face groups of enemies, cutting them to bits and proceeding to the next part of the game. We certainly like this option.
Metal Gear Rising Revengeance has a lot to offer in the gameplay department, and we’ll discuss it more as we humbly await the game’s February 19th release for Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. Rising can’t get here soon enough.