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Hands-On With Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance

“Revengenace” isn’t a word, but that didn’t stop Konami from using it as a subtitle for the latest installment in the Metal Gear franchise.  Having been a long-time fan of the series, I had still lost track of the increasingly incomprehensible story.  I was vaguely aware that somewhere along the line, Raiden, the prettyboy who got felt up by the President in Metal Gear Solid 2 had turned into a cyborg super soldier.  Now, this androgynous killing machine is the star of the latest game in the series, and out to re-avenge something in Metal Gear Revengeance!

Revengeance was playable at PAX Prime, and if the demo is any indication, Revengence takes a big step away from the classic mechanics of the Metal Gear series.  It’s developed by Platinum Games who created the stylish action games Bayonetta and MadWorld, so it isn’t terribly surprising to see that this game doesn’t concern itself with too much stealth.

Rather it emphasizes high-tech swordplay.  The Metal Gear games have featured bad-ass cyborg ninjas, and Raiden seems just as tough as Grey Fox from MG Solid.  Equipped with a sword that cut through just about anything, Raiden takes on enemies in high-action style more suited to Ninja Gaiden or the old Otagi series.

Raiden can run around in a typical third person mode, slicing up bad guys, but the game also has a “Blade Mode” that lets players slow down time, zoom in on enemies, then target Raiden’s sword using the analog thumbsticks to make precise slashes at enemy weak spots.

This can be used to chop out huge chunks of objects in the environment, or to mutilate enemies.  It’s an unusual, new mechanic that helps convey the quick reflexes that cyberninja might have, and the sort of brutal damage that a futuristic sword could do to a human body.

The PAX demo allowed players to sample a few levels, including one where Raiden cuts down a bunch of soldiers.  The sword-fighting can get quite gruesome as Raiden slices soldiers into multiple pieces which fly apart in slow motion thanks to the “Blade Mode”.

There are also finishing moves that reward players for carefully hitting weak points, and these include cutting enemies open, then pulling out their spines!  This move also serves to provide Raiden with power-ups ripped rights from the bodies of his foes.

Other levels were less fun, such as one that forced the Player to sprint away from a collapsing bridge, jumping over obstacles with instant death as the reward for missing a jump, or not running fast enough.

The demo concluded with an action-packed boss fight that showed Raiden’s projectile attacks.  In this case he brought a sword to a helicopter fight.  Against the flying enemy, his sword was less effective, so he had to scrounge around the battleground for ammo for his missile launcher.  The missiles certainly evened up the odds, although Raiden is such an agile fighter that he could still do some damage with the sword by jumping off nearby structures.

Long-time Metal Gear fans are likely to be wary of this shift in mechanics (And another Raiden-centric story).  While it’s different from what would be expected in a Metal Gear game, Revengeance still has the potential to be a fun action title that takes place within the Metal Gear universe.  It comes out for Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 on February 19th 2013.

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