What kind of word is Revengeance, anyway? It's a remarkably silly word, that's what — and it's one that fits Revengeance's core theme exceptionally well. I spent some time yesterday with some near-final PS3 code of the spin-off Metal Gear game that slices and dices, but doesn't always take itself that seriously.
Track 'em, find 'em, slice 'em.
The night before I went to try out a near-complete build of Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance, I watched The Expendables 2. I mention this not in passing, but because in many ways it's the ideal aperitif for Platinum Games' take on the Metal Gear universe. Just as it is in The Expendables 2, Everything in this game is amped up to eleven, with the Rule Of Cool taking precedence over other pesky matters like, say, physics, logic or basic plain sanity. If it looks or sounds cool in a neo-Japanese-military-techno kind of way, it's probably waiting around a corner, waiting to do something horrible to Raiden.
One of the drawbacks of getting access to the near-complete code, however, is that I'm forbidden to mention all that much about the plot or certain specific objectives; although I only had a couple of hours playtime so I've really not scratched the surface of where the plot goes. Still, the bit where REDACTED confronts the DELETED is pretty cool, and long-time fans will squeal with joy if they spot REMOVED ON LEGAL ADVICE.
OK, I'm just teasing there; but what I was there to see was how Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance's combat engine flows together; everything from the way you string together combos to the sometimes-controversial "blade mode" that gives you a psuedo-first person slicing perspective. We've covered off a lot of Revengeance previously, noting that it's had an interesting production history switching from Kojima Productions to Platinum Games and that those struggles may have improved the final product.
I Now Pronounce You Man And Knife
The HD release of Zone Of The Enders carried the demo for Revengeance, and that did give you a decent taste of where the game's combat lies, but the near-final code has been tweaked pretty heavily, with a much longer tutorial that covers off all of Raiden's initial abilities, from the Ninja Run that leaves Raiden skipping over objects in a manner that suggests he's simply a hyper-violent cyber-Mario to the way combat flows together to take down your many foes.
The controls are well explained in the near final code; it's quite clear how you manage parrying, although it's not always easy to do so. Likewise, the Blade mode blends well into the gameplay once you realise what it can and can't do. This isn't really a first-person-slicing game in the sense that you'd wander around in Blade mode; instead it's a method of adding flourishes to the existing combat engine, as well as variety along with a number of quick-time events.
It's essentially a matter — as Mark covered in his earlier preview — of getting used to flicking the control stick at the right time during a combo; get it right and you'll be doing the kind of slicing and dicing to your cyborg foes that would leave Gabriel Gaté weeping with joy. Even when you're getting it wrong — and I did — you're learning your own limitations in a mostly organic way.
Only Cyborgs Bleed
Well, semi-organic way, anyway; your foes are mostly cyborg entities, something that's no doubt contributed to the game's MA15+ rating. It's pure guesswork on my part, but I suspect that if it were being submitted for classification right now, it might just edge into R18+ territory. Either that, or I got way too carried away separating cyborgs into their constituent bodily sections, complete with a strike counter that'll tell me exactly how many parts I've chopped them into.
It's not quite true that everything in the game can be sliced apart, because otherwise you could seriously affect the overall story flow chopping through buildings and so on. Spotting cuttable objects is easy enough to do, and it does allow for some changes in the flow of how you take on certain groups of enemies. Speaking of which, if you're a hostage in Revengeance, I'm very, very sorry; I'm incredibly poor at rescuing you. Take solace in the afterlife that you're simply dead, whereas the guys who killed you are now spending their eternity in sushi-style slices.
Getting back to the cutting, the levels I played through were set up such that you could change approaches with selected slices, but certain uncuttable objects were present so you could always continue. This did lead to a few instances where I figured structures were short enough that I'd be able to run up them, but couldn't actually do so, which was a little frustrating. Instead, if you've cut away the other structures, you're meant to run at them in a proscribed way, which feels a little odd in a combat game with such overall general freedom.
In all honesty, I've not been the biggest fan of the Metal Gear games in recent years (and I'd certainly have to cede that title to Mark if he were here), at least partly due to the incredibly dense (as in layered, not stupid per se) storyline and cut scene reliance, and also because I'm not terribly good at stealth games, with a few notable exceptions. Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance, from what I've seen early on, isn't that heavily interested in stealth, however. That's something that's been known about the game for some time now, but facing near-final code, it strikes home with me, and makes the game more accessible. Very long-term Metal Gear fans may find it a little off-putting, but it's a model that makes it very accessible to the wider gaming community.