Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance has earned the dubious honour of being sworn at, fluently and continuously, by a delighted Brenna Hillier. She was not asked to supply a box quote.
That's bullshit. That's fucking bullshit. Oh god I'm terrible. I'm awful! I can't do that. It's too hard for me. Oh what the heck! What is even happening! I don't know how t- take that you dirty bastard and I hope it rots with you. Ha ha! I am the king of you! I am the king of everything.
"Do you always talk like this when you play? Like, on your own?"
I swivelled my head wildly to the side, meeting the carefully blank gaze of the PR representative I had forgotten was watching me play Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance.
Yes, I do. I carry on a muttered, occasionally shouted (and I hate to say, squeaked) and frequently obscene monologue whenever I'm really concentrating on a game. Don't you?
Apparently it's not that common. This is the third time a PR rep has brought it up. It's embarrassing for me, because in Sydney's tiny games media circles, I often see these people socially and have to dive under the pool table while I blush furiously remembering they have heard me call an innocent NPC words I can't put in print in case my parents read this (not that they haven't heard me shouting them at the telly).
I'd like to request that from today onwards, all PR, developer and publisher representatives take my curse-raddled ranting for what it is supposed to be: the highest of compliments. I have forgotten about you and social niceties and am determined to flog the pants off your game, because it is a lot of fun. You're welcome, Revengeance.
Revengeance: Raiden's Return
Despite talk of an alternate timeline, Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance kicks off with obvious nods to the ending of Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots. As he first appears in Platinum Games' action epic, Jack the Ripper is the familiar cyborg ninja last seen cavorting with Vamp and co in the 2008 PlayStation exclusive. He's a serious, sneeringly confident cyborg, equipped with the best body the Patriots' money could buy and part of one of the most elite freelance military groups that exists in the wake of the Sons of the Patriots system's dissolution.
By the time you hit chapter one, that's all changed. Raiden is smashed to pieces and rebuilt. (For whatever reason, he didn't bother to commission any skin for his lower jaw, although his butt muscles were lovingly recreated. Nobody's budget is endless, right?) This is no longer Kojima Productions' Raiden. This one belongs to Platinum, body and soul.
The new, creepy Raiden is chagrined by his defeat in the prologue, and he's out for "revengeance". Happily, in the hands of the expert action team at Platinum and a reasonably competent player, he's capable of making full use of that cyborg body. No more flailing about with controls designed for use with guns in a top-down stealth affair. Raiden is all about the sword - when he's not about suitably silly, long-winded conversations via Codec and over the top cutscenes.
There's no joking about Revengeance's combat; it's tight, and it gets difficult, fast. I'm not sure it's Bayonetta or Devil May Cry tight, since I managed it without actually breaking a control pad, but it certainly rewards those with a quick hand for combos, parries, and the first-person Blade Mode mechanic. If you can read tells and telegraphing, have good timing and nerves of steel, this is a game which will reward your patience.
Although such a simple trick won't work on more difficult foes, my favourite move is a sliding power attack from a dash; it sends groups of lighter enemies flying, and if you're quick, you can snap into Blade Mode, lop off multiple hands, cut out spines, and come away with a huge pile of points.
Dashing in general, which is great for general evasion and also makes Raiden immune to gunfire, is excellent for ploughing through small foes and escaping larger ones while you study their moves. Let me pause here and underline something: if you want time to case your enemies in Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance, you have to dash. Holding down the right shoulder sends Raiden into Ninja Run mode, in which he'll automatically mantle and wall climb, running at about twice the speed of of his regular pace, and this is your best bet for staying safe while you scrutinize a foe.
It's already a fast-paced game, and you need to go faster in order to get better and advance. This is the exact opposite of the demands of most games, and it works so, so well in terms of keeping tensions high.
I met two bosses in my recent play session, which was about three hours with a build identical to the retail version. Both showed an huge variety of design both in terms of character (which feels very Kojipro) and attacks (which felt extremely Platinum).
Both of these fights were accompanied by a constant stream of swearing, and, at one point, I dropped the controller and shook my fist at the screen. Then I picked it right back up again and hit "restart". It's that kind of game.
Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance arrives on PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 from February 19.