PREVIEW: Cut At Will
The road to Rising Revengeance has been turbulent to say the least. Initially developed in house by Kojima Productions while the game was still called Metal Gear Solid Rising, It went quiet for a long duration, when it was finally announced that the game was now re-titled and being developed by the rather good Platinum Games.
It's been hard to pick a genre for the game since it was announced. Originally intended as a tie-in game set between Metal Gear Solid 2 and 4, the game supposedly told the story about Raiden and how he ends up being a white blooded cyborg that we know him as in 4. 'Zan-Datsu' (cut and take) was a big part of the games' promotion, as was the choice between slicing enemies with your amazing hi-frequency katana to disarm, or to kill.
In its new guise, Zan-Datsu still exists, although there's seldom a choice now between disarming and killing (just kill everything!).
It's clear the game takes from a variety of genres, but mainly the more Devil May Cry/Ninja Gaiden/God of War (delete as appropriate genre. In a revised storyline now taking place after Metal Gear Solid 4, Raiden faces a variety of enemies most of which are new, but don't be surprised when the armoured, cow-sounding Gekku appear from MGS4.
The demo we were privy to at the Expo was around 20 minutes in length, and did well to highlight the variables the game has on offer. Initially starting in a virtual reality style training exercise the controls are laid out reasonably well. Raiden is given a light and hard attack (most God of War players would be right at home here). What this game does is include the new 'Blade Mode' where the gameplay goes superslow and allows Raiden to define where he wants to slice, and you can certainly slice with precision and abandon, cutting up objects, enemies, most things to be fair, into hundreds of tiny pieces. More impressively, if things such as grenades are thrown at you, you can enter Blade Mode and literally slice the grenade out of the air. It's a very cool feature in implementation, graphics and mechanics.
The demo also highlight a couple of other things. One of which is that the game features reasonably good stealth sections, and mercifully you can progress through some sections with little in the way of fighting. Entire waves of soldiers can be taken out in stealth (although depressingly there didn't seem much or indeed any variation in the stealth kills). But when it comes to the bigger enemies a straight out fight is necessary. These fights are generally - batter the enemy until areas of it's body become highlighted so you can then follow it up with a fatal Blade mode slice. The gameplay came across with a tinge of repetition to be honest. Most of the fighting can be dealt with by simply mashing the buttons in any kind of order, dodging the very telegraphed attacks and then continuing with a Blade mode finisher. Being that all of the basic enemies allow you to 'take' their energised spines and restore your energy to full essentially means that through careful enemy management and skillful dodging, you can practically last a fight until its conclusion with little difficulty.
Either that or you are pitched against an enemy that you need to counter their attacks, for which you must press and hold the left analogue stick (not a lot of fun) and then press the light attack at the right time. I struggled no end the first time I tried the demo, and couldn't grasp it much better for the second, and it's in this counter system I actually experienced a lot of frustration from the game which damaged my enjoyment a little, especially as there's no dodge button.
The demo rounds off with what I can only assume is a boss battle against this cool looking cyber dog thing, and again the fight is mainly counter based with waves standard enemies and a Gekku to break it up. And that really is all there is to it. The only challenge really comes from getting the counters in and despite the fact that I completely fluffed up my first time playing the game (I was getting owned by Gekku's regularly) my second attempt went relatively hitch free.
There really is a distinct lack of variety within the combat unfortunately and although Blade Mode helps you mix it up and the effects are extremely good both visually and technically it's a novelty that you soon get used to and it just blends in as another mechanic to your fighting as opposed to a truly innovative feature. That's not to say that in the final game it won't be implemented much better, however.
The demo was naturally padded out with the usual lengthy cutscenes, but we wouldn't have a Metal Gear game without them, and rather welcome is the new codec sequences which occur in forced walking sections (Gears of War style) through areas.