Yes, that is a combination of impressions and reactions, expect much more wordbining in the spirit of Revengeance.
So, the Metal Gear Rising demo has been in the hands of those who bought the ZOE Collection for quite some time now, and seeing as it’ll soon be in the hands of you handsome people via standalone demo I figured I would share my impractions (repressions?) now rather than rub it in your face two weeks ago.
The demo takes place with post-op Raiden soon after he gets his new body, sporting a new pair of even creepier high heel foot things and familiar bandana/impromptu eye patch – I guess he didn’t bother to get a new eye despite getting everything else, including his other, still working, eye replaced – and we’re introduced to blade mode with a quick tutorial.
Really it’s just a playground for cutting stuff up and to get down the basics of blade mode, one interesting thing is that you don’t need to “swipe” the analogue stick, just choose your angle of approach and let go, they let you do it either way but in my opinion swiping still just feels right. Another thing is that if you don’t want to wiggle your thumb everywhere you can just press Square or triangle for horizontal or vertical slashes, which is a nice touch when you want to just enjoy the spectacle or really go all berserker on something.
There’s also an equipable cardboard box tucked away in the tutorial, to reach it you need to cut down a pillar to make a ramp leading around edge of the area. I unfortunately never realised this and instead cut down both supports and spent ten minutes bouncing the bridge off Raiden’s head and kicking it around until it glitched its way into a makeshift slope for me. It was stutarded.
When the demo begins proper we get our first taste of combat and it’s a bit of a mixed bag. There’s nothing wrong with the combo system itself, it’s just that it’s not really explained to you in the demo beyond square for light attacks, triangle for heavy. The light combo string can go on indefinitely or be switched in to the heavy string at any time, by switching back and forth at different points in the combo strings is where new moves can be found, think Bayonetta but with more “free-form” switching back and forth between heavy and light attacks. It’s actually much harder to explain than it is to figure out for yourself. There’s also a lot more variety opened up by waiting half-second “beats” between attacks, but again without any explanation or movelist in the demo you just have to figure out what does what.
There are also unique attacks used with the analogue stick and either attack button, for example tapping forward twice on the stick and pressing triangle will give you a dashing strike a la Devil May Cry’s Stinger, moving back then forward with the analogue and square will perform a palm strike, and spinning the left stick with triangle will give you sword-foot breakdancing funtimes. I’d prefer a lock-on method for these moves as in DMC since I find that much more comfortable and intuitive, there is lock on system, but there might as well not be for all the good it does.
The parry system is well implemented once you get over your instinct to dodge roll in this sort of game, pushing the left stick and square towards your attacker will block it, time it right just at the last moment and a follow up prompt will appear allowing you to do all sorts of crazy shit, both of you will probably end up in the air, one of you will come down in pieces.
Basically the combat is a nice balance, there’s plenty of depth there to be uncovered for fans of Platinum’s signature action, in fact I know there’s tons
of depth there but without a movelist or combat tutorial it’s like playing Street Fighter back in the arcade before you figured out how to throw a hadouken (and keep in mind that this demo is before you start unlocking skills and using secondary weapons). But new players and holdover Metal Gear fans can still have fun and get by with the basics, unless it pulls a Batonetta and things get balls-hard (blard) as soon as the demo ends.
There are some niggling concerns, I still hope a dodge is unlocked at some point, you can’t exactly parry a rocket or grenade and breaking into a ninja run not only breaks the flow of combat but has a slight delay, basically if you see a rocket coming and you’re not already moving it’s probably going to hit you. The camera can be a pain too, it doesn’t zoom out during combat, making it hard to concentrate on what’s coming at you when fighting people and Gekkos at the same time, meaning something will usually jump in from off-screen and hit you.
But those are all minor complaints when you can grab a Gekko’s head, gymnast swing between its legs and slice it to bits while flying up into the air upside-down
, ripping out its heart is then optional if you’re feeling sassy. It’s definitely in line with Bayonetta and Vanquish in that it’s just packed with “holy shit did I just do that” moments, only now it really does feel like you’re
doing them instead of just mashing square to make it happen. And precision chopping enemies to regain full health and batteries is an interesting dynamic, your health can end up dangerously low if you don’t pay attention but if you play smart you can instantly be back on top.
Rai-Rai’ goin’ Cray-cray
I won’t get too heavy into spoilers, really there’s not that much to spoil anyway, but there’s definite foreshadowing that Raiden’s starting to go off the deep end, maybe not MGS2 ending level crazy, but he’s definitely enjoying himself a bit too much. There’s been a lot of “guilty-pleasure guilt-trip” games lately, games that have you do something fun and violent but then turn you around and say “look what you just did”, I’d love to see Kojima take a stab at it, he might have even been the first one to do it with the whole Sorrow thing in the first place.
Optional codec conversations, a personal favourite of mine, are back after being woefully underwhelming in MGS4. There’s actually a bit more banter reminiscent of Snake Eater, from conversations about life after SOP to support members making fun of Raiden’s unwanted nickname - “Mr. Thunderbolt”. It’s just a nice touch I’ve always liked about the series and I’m glad to see it back.
Can love bloom, even on the battlefield?
Metal Gear games have always been cheesier than Liquid Snake at a fondue party, and Rising embraces that and takes it to a whole new level. There’s a certain self awareness to it now, groan worthy lyrics kick in at the end of boss fights, characters sarcastically ask each other the meaning of life, and beyond the demo there’s apparently Ninja Turtle references and awful mariachi disguises that Raiden thinks are impenetrable.
Overall, Metal Gear Rising looks to combine the strengths of Platinum with the more “out there” elements of Metal Gear, so long as you don’t come in with any misconceptions of a focus on stealth or pacifist runs and just embrace the cheese then good times will be had. Really the main problem with the demo is it looks like it was built for the show floor, with a Konami person shoutsplaining the finer points as you play.