I admit to some trepidation when I first heard of Metal Gear Rising. Like many long-time MG fans, I found the idea of a hack-and-slash game featuring the Metal Gear name and very little in the way of stealth or sneaking to be somewhat… Odd.
Thankfully, with the release of a playable demo of Rising (I refuse to call it 'Revengeance', what a stupid title), my fears have almost completely dispelled.
Starring the once wussy but now badass cyborg ninja known as Raiden, Rising is another title from Platinum Games, the team behind the excellent but largely unknown Vanquish and the boobtacular Bayonetta. This time, unlike the magical combat of Bayonetta, or the gun-based mayhem of Vanquish, the action is all about the blades.
As a cyborg ninja, Raiden is superhumanly fast and capable of feats of strength denied to us mere mortals. He can move like the wind, climb walls with his claws, collate and extrapolate information like a computer and – delightfully – slice almost anything into tiny little pieces. This central tenet of Rising, the theory of 'Zan-datsu' - or 'cut and take' - is what makes the game so enjoyable.
The gameplay - instantly familiar to Platinum Games fans, or anyone whose ever played Devil May Cry - mostly seems to centre around using a flurry of acrobatic melee attacks, blocks and some sub–weapons, such as RPGs, to weaken your opponent, before closing for the kill.
Once the enemy is weak enough, Raiden can enter 'blade mode', slowing the action around him and giving him time to selectively slice his enemies apart. Slice in the right spot, and the ninja can rip out and absorb the enemy cyborg's vital fluids, so replenishing his own body. Alternatively, you can selectively dismember and then dice almost anything into hundreds of little bits in a melee of chops.
For example, as a challenge, I attempted to turn a palm tree into pulp. While in blade mode I managed to turn it into 342 bits – helpfully recorded by the game's head-up-display. That said, Raiden's superhuman reflexes are far from the match of a feline's – upon attempting to blade mode slice a wandering feral cat in the street, I was pleased to see the feline backflip over the blade – nice one Platinum.
This grace of action, tightness of control and sheer cool factor is a hallmark of Platinum Games' work – and I was quickly hooked on its intense pleasures of combat and precision bladework. The game looks great, plays great, and is familiar in voice acting and tone to any MG fan – and the great Hideo Kojima himself is executive producer. I can't wait to get my robotic hands on it.