Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance Demo Impressions (PS3)

The Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance demo is now available to download and play before the February release of the game!

Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance is the latest game in the Metal Gear saga. Keen to stand on its own feet in the Metal Gear universe, Rising has shed the previous tagline of ‘Tactical Espionage Action’ that adorned previous Metal Gear titles, indicative of the distinct gameplay shift. This isn’t the Raiden seen from Metal Gear Solid 2, however, but the cybernetic killing machine seen in MGS4: Guns of the Patriots. Fans of MGS4 Raiden will be excited to see this new game centred around his bad-ass killing style seen in the cutscenes of that game. But what about fans of the old MGS series? Rising is clearly a very fast-paced game, with elements of score keeping and an almost hack-and-slash element that distances itself from its Metal Gear Solid brothers. Despite looking amazing, it marks a clear shift away from previous games in the series which could leave any hardcore fan ill at ease. What if they get it wrong? What if it isn’t Metal Gear anymore? Well, following Rising’s development for a long time I was both intrigued by the game and what it promised, and also concerned. As a long term Metal Gear fan, I hoped the publishers could live up to what they promised without distancing itself from the Metal Gear universe too much. With the game being released next month, a free demo has now become available to download so that you can try out the gameplay for yourself. I decided to give it an intial review based on the demo and my initial impressions.


Metal Gear Rising sees a return of the cybernetically enhanced Raiden

The demo starts with an optional tutorial that’s well worth trying out. Spawning in a virtual reality simulation akin to previous VR missions in the Metal Gear games, the tutorial lets you try out the controls and Raiden’s abilities. First up was blade mode. Holding L1 lets you enter this mode, where a thin blue slice indicates the cutting angle of his blade. Moving the right analogue stick lets you manipulate this slice, while pulling the analogue stick and flicking it to the centre makes Raiden actually cut. It’s really easy to do, and a lot of fun. As well as the finely tuned blade mode, Raiden has two button-mapped attacks, a medium and a strong attack (square and triangle, respectively). These can be combined into dicing combos, with Raiden flipping the blade.

The tutorial lets you slice up floating target cubes, watermelons, cars, poles and more. You can even slice up paper enemies holding hostages. You can run about as Raiden for as long as you want, with the tutorial ending once you’ve sliced all the target enemies. The first taste of cutting different objects into precise slices coupled with the score grading at the end of the tutorial is indicative of the game’s gameplay style as a whole. It’s the first taste of the fast, score-based combat with plenty of flare.

The end of the tutorial sparks the first cutscene. The graphics are stunning, running at a smooth 60fps and looking crisp and detailed. Raiden is en route to a landing point, strapped into a flying stealth bomber-esque plane. The characters, dialogue and storyline were immediately engrossing, and I was intrigued to learn more about the storyline but before I knew it, Raiden was shot out of the aircraft at high speed, skimming above the sea and then landing on the water of a beach, spraying water particles and showcasing the game’s awesome graphics, lighting and visual effects.

The demo properly begins with Raiden on a beach with fun objects like trees, stone pillars holding platforms, and stairs which can all be cut. The cutting element is really cool, and not just some gimmick, which is good. Also there’s an ‘easter egg’ on the beach: a small white cat that has the agility to out-maneuver Raiden. No matter which way you cut, it backflips and dodges your blade with ease. Hopefully more random and humorous things are to be found later on, after all, Metal Gear is famed for its humour and random elements.

Raiden meets his first enemies after the beach, which leads him to a winding street, dotted with PMC troops and the occasional Gekko which gives the chance to try out Raiden’s combat properly. When you get it right, Raiden fights with grace and lightning speed, with the animations and visual effects looking very smooth and keeping steady at 60 fps. Using blade mode at its best slows down time so you can angle the blade cut, but this depletes your energy bar which you can replenish by stealing electrolytes – the fluids stored in enemy spinal columns. Raiden can also slice off the left hands of his foes to capture holographic data stored there, which is traded in return for upgrades and services, of course. Unfortunately there was no display of the upgrade process during the demo, but I look forward to seeing it in action when the game comes out .

Raiden can also scan the scenery using ‘Augment Mode’ by pressing Up on the D-Pad. This is sort of like Old Snake’s Solid Eye mode, where objectives, enemies and things of interest are displayed. It disables itself when you begin sprinting or attack but seems good for scanning the area and plotting your kills. You can still stealth if you wish, sneaking up behind enemies and, if you tap action, Raiden stabs them from behind leaving a spray of blood across the screen. This doesn’t allow you to take their electrolytes though – you need to literally slice them apart for that. Slicing enemies is hard if not impossible with the action buttons, you need blade made for that. It’s a cool combat system, using the medium and strong attack buttons for combos and wearing down an enemy and then using blade mode to slice them finely. There’s also a hostage being held by two PMCs. You can rescue the hostage by killing all the enemies nearby and freeing him, which gives you a nice score bonus. It’s actually quite hard to do as the enemies can be quick to kill him if they see you so it adds a nice element to the gameplay.

Taking on Gekko’s, returning from MGS4, makes for challenging, but very fun, combat. It’s not easy to slice them up – first you need to do enough damage to a specific area. The cool thing is, you can still parry the Gekkos, steal their electrolytes, and enter some nice quick time events to land the killing blow. It makes for some frantic battles with you fighting multiple Gekkos and PMCs simultaneously. I can tell that with the combos to learn and the upgrades to collect, combat will remain intense and varied for a long time.

At the end of the street sparks another cutscene. Again, beautifully rendered – it shows a mysterious entity slicing through the walls with a chainsaw before causing the entrie corridor to collapse to street level, with Raiden slices through failling crates and ultimately clashing blades with the entity – “IF Prototype LQ84i” a cybernetic wolf-like machine that is very reminiscent of the Beauty and the Beast corps. It seems that the machine is sent to kill Raiden, and yes, this does lead to the demo’s boss fight.

The fight starts again with metal music, and you are thrust into a battle against the blade wolf. Parrying is pretty much a must in this fight, as the blade wolf launches itself at you with dizzying speed, looking to pierce your armour with its chainsaw-like tail. Again, the pacing and the visual effects make the battle an artistic showcase. The blade wolf occasionally retreats to a high ledge where it calls PMCs and Gekkos for you to fight, mixing up the battle and giving you a chance to regain some energy. The fight was exhilerating, fast-paced and was, unfortunately, the end of the demo. It certainly left me more, but in a good way. If this boss battle was indicative of bosses to come, then it is a very good sign.

My initial impression of the demo was that it was very fun and engaging, and I immediately wanted to carry on the game after the boss battle. I felt like it fitted in the Metal Gear series nicely, and any initial doubts that I had about the game were vanquished. I was hard-pressed to find any flaws or concerns, and the only notable ‘flaws’ I could think of were the way objects landed and disappeared, but this is most likely to keep the game running at a constant 60fps and that there was also the certain linearity to the demo. While you could free roam and kill enemies, the area was a long street with not many places to go, and the building areas were fairly small. But it’s hard to really tell much of the actual level design from the demo, so I shall reserve judgement until the release version. Thankfully, I can say that  even if does end up rather linear, for me,  the combat, gameplay and visual style makes up for any small grievances like that.

I also definitely left feeling like I’d played a Metal Gear game. It wasn’t simply the re-appearance of Raiden and the Gekko’s, for instance, but the re-use of the Codec feature, for example. Even in the demo, there is a wealth of Codec conversations to explore. These give some history to the team Raiden is working with, the enemies he will be facing, and of course it includes a save frequency. Luckily the interface has been updated. When a Codec call comes through, it appears as a hologram in front of Raiden, akin to the Dead Space interface, so you can still walk around. This is a lot better than having Snake crouching in a corner while you watch the outdated Codec conversations from before, even if it is a minor change. The return of the ‘Alert Phase’ was a nice touch as well, although the game doesn’t penalise you like old Metal Gear games – it encourages you to slice through your enemies in quick succession!

Overall, the Rising demo left me with the impression of a gorgeous-looking title that stands strongly as its own entity, apart from the Metal Gear games in terms of pacing, action and gameplay, but that also looks to retain its engrossing story and odd humour and quirks that make the series great. Fans of the Metal Gear Solid 4 Raiden will very impressed, while to those having their doubts about, I would just say: Try the demo out! It’s a lot of fun, and if you want to, just treat it as a standalone game until Ground Zeroes comes out.

I hesitate to give a rating for this demo, as its not really indicative of the final game, but it definitely made me forget my worries about this game being placed in the Metal Gear saga!

Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance is out in the UK on 22 February.


Metal Gear Rising Screenshot

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