Most Metal Gear Solid (MGS) fans have been eagerly awaiting the arrival of the new spin-off from the series, originally announced as €œMetal Gear Solid: Rising€ at the 2009 E3 convention but re-announced at the 2012 E3 convention as “Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance”  It promises to be a much more action-oriented cousin of the classic franchise. 

The story takes place 4 years after the events in €œMetal Gear Solid 4: Guns of The Patriot,€ in a time where cyborg technology runs rampant, being used in war as well as to terrorize by the organization Desperado Enforcement LLC.

Yuji Korekado, the Creative Producer at Kojima studios, said in an interview at E3 2012 Convention:

€œWithin the Metal Gear series, Raiden has been this really cool character with incredible action scenes, so we heard this universal cry from our fans that they wanted the opportunity to actually be able to control Raiden. We answered that call by creating Metal Gear Rising, which will allow users to control Raiden and get to really enjoy those amazing action scenes as a player.€

The plot hints at returning him to his colder persona, €œJack The Ripper,€ while further explaining his past as a child soldier and exploring the extent of his human weaknesses. The game will take place in various locations around the world, some in the process of reconstruction from their recent war-ridden past.

In this installment, the man who puts Raiden on a trail of vengeance is Samuel Rodrigues, an operative from the Desperados whose cyborg body is similar to Raiden′s. Since Samuel destroys his body during the assassination of one of Raiden′s protectees while he was working his “low-risk security job€ he becomes outfitted with a new and improved body that allows him to perform spectacular feats.

According to the trailers, it seems we have quite a few interesting upgrades that will heighten the experience considerably, such as a stronger blade mode (discussed later), and what looks like a bladed pole he wields as ferociously as his sword.

It is implied at the end of the demo that there will be a sense of cognitive dissonance thanks to his cyborg state, possibly a struggle to maintain human while Raiden takes the life of cyborgs he himself does not consider human. It will be interesting to see how that element plays into the story.

Gameplay

The gameplay is smooth, action packed and heartwarmingly ferocious. It is much more action oriented than the main MGS titles, so if you′ve only played the stealth based games you might be onboard for a sweet surprise when you pick up this game. The cyborg body allows Raiden to perform superhuman actions, such as moving through the environment very quickly with the appropriately named Ninja run. The game features an Augmented Reality interface similar to the Solid Eye from MGS4 that allows you to spot enemies and sliceable structures in the environment from a considerable distance. The greatest feature is Blade Mode: player enters a slow motion state in which he can carefully aim with the analog sticks to cut through an enemy or simply bash X and Y to slice and dice the enemy until satisfied.

The game highly encourages you to carefully aim at the red square that appears at the center of an enemy, which highlights a bundle of nervous fibers loaded with energy the player can use to recover his blade′s energy and health (really useful when surrounded by more than 4 enemies). In some cases the enemy will be a gecko (a large, bipedal unmanned tank), and presumably larger enemies once the game is released. Enemies may be weakened enough for a Blade mode finisher, prompted by a light blue frame on the screen. It is very action packed, aesthetically pleasing and punishingly difficult the first time you play it, but you quickly master the learning curve.

Difficulty wise, in normal mode it is easy enough for new-comers to enjoy the game yet difficult enough for experienced gamers to feel challenged and rewarded upon completing a battle. The voice acting is mostly solid, it only falters in some Codec calls, but this is not a big issue. In the developer′s defense, the game is originally Japanese, so some lip-syncing issues are expected.

The only real issue I had with the demo was that it is difficult to stay focused on your target or Raiden without using the lock-on feature since so much is going on in the screen. Also, the camera doesn′t necessarily move with Raiden′s back. I found myself looking at his face more times than I′d like, which can be disorienting when getting shot and kicked by geckos and cyborgs.

Hopefully, Platinum Studios takes that into consideration. However, since it does add to the fast-paced fighting system by forcing you to be aware of your environment, they may not. I also hope that at some point we can use the skin from MGS4 during the entirety of the game; you can see it in some trailers but its probably only in the first mission when protecting the major.

The demo introduces an upgrade concept not unlike the weapon sales and customization menu in MGS4. It uses BP (Battle Points) as currency, but this time you′re going to be upgrading Raiden′s suit and blade instead of weapons.

Aside from straying from the normal stealth-based gameplay common in a MGS game, the menus and the in-game hud are very similar to previous MGS, but simpler, cleaner and more intuitive. It is really hard to compare this title with previous ones due to its core difference, but it is safe to say that Platinum Studios and Kojima Studios have created a solid spin-off that shows a possibility to branch out into its own franchise while maintaining the Metal Gear atmosphere.

Even with those very small issues, “Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance” looks like a solid, fun and enjoyable game regardless of whether you′re a returning fan or a newcomer. The game will be available on February 19, 2013 and you can try it out for free at the Xbox Live Marketplace and PSN stores.