This week in Los Angeles, Konami threw a three-day event to show off Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance, the oddly titled action game they're developing in conjunction with Platinum Games, the folks behind Bayonetta and Vanquish. Although Kotaku typically turns down these sort of publisher-paid press events, I happened to be in Los Angeles this week anyway, so I stopped by Konami's event Wednesday night to check out Metal Gear Rising, which is kind of insane.
Kirk warned me that Rising was intense, but I didn't really know what to expect until I saw it in action. I also didn't really know how much I'd enjoy playing it.
Here are some of the important notes I took along the way:
- This is basically Metal Gear meets Bayonetta. Or Devil May Cry, or El Shaddai. It's got the setting, the style, and the bombastic cutscenes of Solid Snake's adventures, but it's also got the high-octane frenetic battling system of a Platinum game. This sort of combination doesn't seem like it'd work, but it really does. During the game's prologue chapter, you get to use Raiden's sword to slice open a Metal Gear. It doesn't get more satisfying than that.
- Yeah, Metal Gear Rising stars Raiden, but not the lame Raiden. This is totally 2008's Metal Gear Solid 4 Raiden, not that annoying dude who screwed over Snake and took over your controller in MGS2. I'm not a big fan of his voice acting, but he is undoubtedly cooler than he was a decade ago. This is the ninja cyborg Raiden, the type of Raiden who, when one of his appendages is unceremoniously chopped off, responds with a simple "Shit! Not again!"
- The story is as Metal Gear as it gets: as Raiden, you're sent on various missions where you have to infiltrate, slaughter, and take out bosses. You can codec call with your support group, which consists of an old leader with a foreign accent, a military support dude, a nerdy girl, and an eccentric doctor who can upgrade your equipment. There are lots of cut-scenes.
- Your new boss is named Boris, and he's as stereotypical a Russian as it gets. He likes to call you "tovarish" — Russian for "comrade." You get the feeling he could drink you under the table.
- There are also plenty of weird enemies and enemy bosses. You've got your standard cyborg soldiers and Gecko robots, but there are robot dogs with chainsaw tails and big Metal Gears and a guy named Jetstream Sam who can do very bad things to you very quickly, and does, within the first hour of the game.
- Everything is destructible — from barricades and fences to pivotal pillars, which you can slice in half in order to knock down the platforms they support. Since this is an action game, indiscriminately chopping things is not just allowed — it's encouraged. To help you slice things more precisely, you can hit one of the trigger buttons to enter a freeflowing action sequence called "Blade Mode," during which you can directly control the movements of Raiden's sword. No Wii remote necessary.
- Even though there's not a whole lot of stealth, that familiar-sounding Warning/Caution meter is still there. In case you feel like getting yet another Kojima-induced heart attack when your WARNING shoots up to 99 per cent. Which happens pretty often.
- Many of the early boss battles are half-cutscene in typical Metal Gear fashion. But Rising is really good at allowing you to do really cool things. When you're leaping between missiles in the air so you can reach that, or when you're swordfighting with a tough boss on the top of a moving train, it's hard not to be suckered in by the thrill of the moment.
- The hardcore metal music that plays during boss fights is less forgivable. But hey, it happens. Heavy Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance wouldn't have been as catchy.
- The game's gorgeous, by the way. Not that this should be a surprise, if you've played any Metal Gear game. But it's worth mentioning just how great everything looks on both Xbox 360 and PS3.
- At one point, you have to fight a robot dog boss who brags about how smart he is. So Raiden, being a wiseass, decides to crack a joke. (Remember, this isn't MGS2 Raiden. MGS2 Raiden would probably just break down crying.)
Here's the full dialogue exchange:
RAIDEN: What's the meaning of life? Why are we here?
ROBOT-DOG-THING: I am here to kill you.
- It's so fun and zany and bizarre and action-movie-esque, you'll almost forgive them for the QTEs. Yes, there are QTEs. No, the folks at Platinum don't seem to have realised that QTEs are obsolete and pointless. But the game feels so fun, so fast-paced, so interesting that yeah. I forgive them for the QTEs. And from the couple hours of Metal Gear Rising I've played thus far, I think it'll be one hell of a game.
Check back next week for more on Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance, a name that I still have trouble writing without laughing.