By Greg Newbegin
I have to be honest and upfront here - I've never been a huge fan of the Metal Gear series. It's not that I didn't LIKE the games, I just didn't understand the love. For me, I didn't 'get' the world it was set in - was it an alternate version of reality? Was it a vision of the future? Was it a bastardisation of the here-and-now? It just didn't seem to have its own identity to me, and I guess I have to take responsibility for that - I never gave it a chance (I'm not a fan of long cut scenes either).
However, when I saw that Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance was playable on the TGS show floor, I knew I HAD to get some time with it - if not for me, for Leo and Steve, and the readers at large. And I have to say, I really think Hideo Kojima has finally found the way to demonstrate his vision - even if only to me.
Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance immediately had an impact on me. From the time I was waiting in line watching the briefing, until I finished playing through the demo, it was evident to me that this wasn't just another style of game set in the Metal Gear universe (i.e., not just another stealth shooter, and not an action game set in a stealth environment). Finally, it seemed to me that this place was "real," things seemed to make "sense," and even the ridiculous technology had its "place" - for me, at least, it finally made sense, and I REALLY enjoyed the taster I got.
When I first got my hands on the code, I played through some brief training - this was mainly intended to demonstrate how to use the sword, but all aspects of control were explained. Raiden was easy to manoeuvre and I was able to have him run about the level jumping from point-to-point in no time. Interestingly, stealth aspects were also easily employed, and I could to easily determine the optimal path through the level I played through. In fact, I even found this more enjoyable than the last MGS title I played...
In terms of Blade Mode, the controls were far more simple than I had anticipated. Depressing the L2 button started the mode and implemented a slow-motion feature allowing for detailed accuracy, while the right analogue stick selected the angle of the slash - point in a direction to refine, release to slash. This way, many quick movements resulted in multiple slashes, and a dissected opponent. Hard to explain, but worked really well in practice and was extremely satisfying.
In fact, things got quite brutal as I slashed enemies to pieces, and the additional potential to destroy the neural network inside of cyborg opponents is both gruesome and wonderful, all at the same time.
The brief demo showed off some stealth aspects, but also covered some pretty action-packed battles with the two-legged bots (Gekkos), and this really demonstrated how differently MGR plays in comparison to previous titles in the Metal Gear series. It's fast-paced, zippy, and there is no requirement to focus on stealth - in fact, you could choose to go balls out and chop everyone to pieces if you like (at least, the option was there in the demo - the rest of the game may differ). The demo got quite frantic towards the end, with Raiden finally coming face-to-face with an actual Metal Gear before the "fade to black"...
The video that accompanied the demo, however (and I'm sure you've seen this already), showed a hell of a lot more - what seemed like the ability to "reprogram" enemy bots to help you out, fast-paced escape sequences, brutal battles. It was all there, and it ticked a lot more boxes for me than any of the previous titles in the series. Definitely one I'm keeping an eye on, and for me to say that about this particular series, there has to be something special about this one.