Going into my demo of Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance, I only knew two things about it; that ‘Revengeance’ isn’t a word and that I had seen the video from two years back showing all the fruit slicing. I don’t even really enjoy Metal Gear Solid games either, I didn’t have fun with MGS4 at all. That’s why I couldn’t really figure out why I was so excited to play Revengeance. It wasn’t caught up in the hype, it wasn’t because it was a Kojima game. As soon as I picked up the controller, I figured it out. It looked fun.
That might sound like a given, that’s what games are supposed to be. Some aren’t though, they aren’t about being fun, they’re about setting the tone or portraying a narrative through a new medium. Revengeance is all about the gameplay, the fun of it all. How something can be broken down into such simple terms of “slice everything as much as you want” and not be completely broken. It works beautifully in both design and execution.
The stage that we played was clearly the tutorial level, but that’s the perfect thing to show off at a show like E3 when you only have fifteen minutes to demo the game. You need something that can quickly educate players on the somewhat complex control scheme so that they can effortlessly enjoy the demo without having to worry about missing something. It was simple, little text bubbles popped up around the level relaying information on what I was to do next. When standing close enough to a dummy target, holding the right trigger would immediately seat Raiden in his attack stance and draw a line across the screen where his sword would slice if used. By simply moving the right stick, the line would change angles. A quick flick of the stick following the line drawn on the screen would execute a slice.
This sounds a bit more cumbersome than it actually is. It works really well in execution as I found myself getting a few slices in per second once I god really good at it. While slicing, time slows, allowing you to take more time and care when deciding how to slice up your opponent. After that first slice cuts them, there’s really no need to continue, but where’s the fun in that. It became a challenge to see how many times I could slice the enemy before running out of things to slice.
Perhaps the most enjoyable thing to slice was the watermelon in the training area. There were three normal sized watermelon sitting on a bench. You could slice them, dice them up, and even make it look like you were setting up for a picnic. It was amazing how much slicing you could do, there hasn’t been another game that allowed you to cut objects and have them still exist in the space with real physics taking over. It was a sight to see, which is probably why I felt the need to push the boundaries. I wanted to break it, to know that “HA! I pushed it too far, I knew it couldn’t be kept up forever!” but I couldn’t. It really is amazing technology.
Of course, you can’t make a game that allows you to just slice everyone along your path without any resistance, that doesn’t work and makes it feel like a tech demo. Once I made my way toward some real enemies, I found that they had armor that way somewhat sword-proof. I had to use a combination of heavy and light sword attacks to get them to the point that I could use the slice mechanic. It worked really well and made it seem like a great finishing move to the hack-and-slash combat used to wear them down. This brought everything together and made it feel like a more cohesive combat system overall, without the need for balancing worries.
The final battle set the stage for the level of crazy that Metal Gear Rising: Revengaence will feature. As I cleared a street full of enemies out, a helicopter flew overheard and started to turn around. I ran as they shot missiles at the bridge and it started to collapse with me on it. It was like a scene from an action movie or you know – any time a videogame character runs toward the camera as a bridge collapses behind them. It didn’t matter if it had been done before, it was fun.
Once to the end of the bridge, the helicopter stopped and proceeded to fire upon Raiden with machine guns. Very conveniently, there were two RPGs lying around the dusty old ruins where I was hiding from fire. I fired them at the helicopter one at a time until he started firing missiles at me. Right as the missiles were about to hit me, I jumped onto one of them, then to the next and started working my way back toward the helicopter. Finally I made it and right as I was ready to chop it to a million pieces, the demo ended.
I’m not sure I can describe Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance in any way other than that it’s just plain fun. The slicing mechanic is truly special and the control scheme is simple once you get used to it, which is something that Metal Gear games have suffered with in the past. I can’t wait to play more of Revengeance when we get our hands on it in early next year.
You can pre-order your copy of Metal Gear Solid: Revengeance on PS3 (here) and Xbox 360 (here).