Boy, oh, boy. More Metal Gear.
Of course, it’s a little odd not seeing Solid Snake at the forehead of this game, being the staple of the series since his incarnation in the original Metal Gear games, only ever taking the side-line during MGS3 when Raiden was introduced. Like most, I wasn’t impressed by this newcomer, who seems to have taken the spot-light. In fact I think most were happy with sticking to the grizzled survivalist we’d seen in the tougher-than-grit hero, Solid Snake, but nobody can blame a series for trying to evolve.
I’m no MGS fan, but that’s not to say I can’t appreciate the fact that Metal Gear Solid, a PS1 title, was everything everyone wanted out of stealth-focused franchise. Though the story has gotten somewhat… convoluted, treating everyone a fist full of unplayable cinematics, and rather odd dialogue through-out, the games held themselves up well enough as being good tactical espionage games that pitted you as a one-man army in secret wars and terrorist infiltration ops.
With Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance, we’re seeing a change.. a very BIG change. At this moment, I’ve just finished playing the DEMO that was released over X-Box live, and man.. things just go WEIRD. Not exactly in an existential way, but still…
The story takes place about 3 years after Guns of the Patriots, the invisible hand known as the Patriots have disbanded, and large PMC groups have divided into smaller, less coordinated groups. One such group, the Maverick Security Consulting hires on Raiden after he retires from battle. A rival group, called Desperado Enforcement, attacks a caravan that Raiden is a part of, killing an ambassador, and taking Raiden’s left eye and arm. He in turn decides to outfit himself with a new, top-of-the-line cybernetic body, vowing to get back at Desperado.
I took the extremely short tutorial level to make sure I had some grasp of what was going on at first, a few in-game prompts telling what I need to know. Of course, the main event is this dynamic destruction that allows you to cut parts of the environment into bit-sized pieces, something that The Force Unleashed was hoping to accomplish, but only managed in a minor sense. Messing with it a bit, I found myself using it a lot, but in a way that probably isn’t as elegant as the designers intended. The tutorial is flush with destructible objects from melons to cars. It’s a treat to see how the engine handles dynamically create havoc objects as Raiden’s sword slices through them like an electric knife through paper. After dispatching some card-board cut-outs of terrorists, I was treated to 3 paragraphs of back-story and a cinematic where everyone talks about stuff while Raiden flies a one-man rocket-powered jet to some South American-looking city in ruin.
From there, you get your taste of the main story, of what you can make of it. I decidedly played it twice to get something of a well-rounded take on this game. The environments aren’t all that impressively modeled, though the game runs as an excellent frame rate for it. Even with Blade-Mode, hacking up random objects, it seems to hold up well as far as performance goes. Raiden looks pretty amazing, considering he’s missing an eye.. and his jaw,.. and about 89% of his natural body. The quality of the character models shifts between good to mediocre, having hugged Raiden up to the wall, the textures hold up well enough, but you’ll always run into points where the character designs aren’t terribly interesting or unique. Authenticity is one thing, but wolf with a chainsaw tail tends to leads to expectations for designs. That’s just the creative side of me thinking aloud of course.
The larger issue so far has been that most enemies are copy-pasted, and tend to be sprinkled around the map In semi-strategic ways. Don’t take this to mean you’ll be in situations that allow for a lot of stealth, but rather you’ll sort of draw relatively simple lines for flanking enemies. The stealth element is toned down a great deal, and you won’t exactly be hanging off ledges with a stamina meter, hiding in lockers, or crawling along the ground. This is an action game.
Over all, I didn’t mind the feel, though I felt like I was playing something akin to From Software’s Otogi or Ninja Blade. The destructibility of environments and the individual physics models generated are pretty neat to behold, at times wondering why the GeoMod destruction seen in the Red Faction series wasn’t this detailed and dynamic.. until you see the geometry disappear the moment you cut a car in half because we’re still working in a limiting 3D environment.
I still had fun with it, but I think we’re walking on unfamiliar ground now, and it’s only a matter of time before fans call for a return to form, if this doesn’t pan out well.