Wed, Sep 26, 2012 | 23:10 BST
Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance is a kitchen sink sandbox
Brenna “Foxhound” Hillier looked upon Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance as a Kojima geek and an action fan, and came away grinning on both faces.
Metal Gear Rising
Developed by Platinum Games, the team behind lauded action efforts Vanquish and Bayonetta, with veteran talent from Devil May Cry.
Began life as an internal Kojima Productions project, but hit a number of roadblocks. Kojipro staff do work alongside Platinum, though. The two teams don’t always see eye to eye.
Takes place in a separate time line to the Metal Gear Solid series, hence the Rising part of the title.
A consumable gauge allows players to enter Blade Time, making multiple precise strikes for extra points or to accomplish specific goals. Raiden can collect enemy power cores to refill his Blade Time meter.
When Kojima Productions first began to demonstrate Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance, nobody was really sure what to make of it. The short explanation for this is that KojiPro itself also had no idea what the game was about, something it freely admitted when it finally handed the project over to the action specialists at Platinum Games.
Revengeance has gone through a lot of changes since then, and gets a very different reception. A series of trailers and marketing efforts have done a lot to diminish the anti-Raiden feeling prevalent among franchise fans, and the title shifting out of the Solid canon and into its own series has soothed their ruffled feathers, too. Moreover, Platinum threw out the somewhat ridiculous “cut everything” rule which, a moment’s thought will remind you, makes it impossible to design the environments which shape gameplay.
But here’s something that hasn’t changed since the KojiPro days: Revengeance is a sandbox. It’s a word being thrown around quite a lot this year – Dishonored and Hitman: Absolution are the big names that come to mind – in relation to games which hand you a lot of tools, point you at a goal, and then leave you to get on with it however the heck you please.
Revengeance isn’t as freeform as the examples cited above, but it’s certainly not a case of repeating the same actions over and over again as you travel from one baddie-filled arena to another. There are multiple ways to take down the enemies in your path, and in the best traditions of Metal Gear, many of these are playful and reward the player for experimenting.
In the preview level I played, Raiden dispatches several groups of soldiers, both individually and in groups, before digging out an access code which triggers a Gecko attack. These famously bovine walking tanks aren’t easy to take out; the PR handler told me to try parrying its attacks, and taking advantage of the momentary stun to get a few hits in.
After such a short period of hands-on time, I wasn’t very good at parries, but I managed it in the end. On my next go round, I snuck a stinger missile into the fight and smacked the Gecko with it; it took so much damage I was able to trigger one of Raiden’s gory core snatches. The third time, I dropped a ferris wheel on its head. The fourth time, it grabbed me with some sort of ranged, whip-like thing but I managed a smart counter and was rewarded with an animation strongly reminiscent of our hero’s MGS4 encounters with these beasties. The fifth time, I parried it perfectly, my earlier problems entirely forgotten, and snatched its core again. The sixth time, I danced around its legs, chipping away, and finally knocked it over with a single kick.
The seventh time I fired the demo up, the controller was gently prised from my hands and the exit politely pointed out to me, and I was disappointed. I wanted to do it again.
I also wanted to redo the helicopter battle which ends the playable portion of the demo, which ends with a quick time event of sorts once enough damage has been done, but how you inflict said amount of damage is entirely up to you – and yes, climbing a nearby pillar, leaping onto the damn thing and wailing away is a perfectly valid approach. I very much wanted to see what happened after the tutorial section included in the demo, when I was briefly shown a very different-looking Raiden facing down a Metal Gear Ray, a cruelly playable-looking segment which cuts to a logo screen in a very deliberate blueball.
I love Platinum Games, and was quite prepared to enjoy the button-mashing combo fury of Revengeance, but what I wasn’t prepared for was how much KojiPro DNA shines through. It’s in the familiar interface design and the sound effects, the warm humour of a ninja cat and sobbing enemy agent cowering under a cardboard box.
But it’s also in the kitchen-sink approach to gameplay. It seems possible to make your way through Revengeance relying on quick attacks and the delicious blade time mechanic, but you’d be missing the vast quantity of the game, I think. We’ve seen only the surface of what Platinum and KojiPro have put together, but it’s enough to make me want to see the rest – however many playthroughs it takes.
Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance arrives on PlayStation 3 and XBox 360 in February 2013.