Included with all new copies of the Zone of the Enders HD Collection is a playable demo of Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance. It's fitting, as a playable demo of Metal Gear Solid 2 (the game that first introduced Raiden) was included with the original Zone of the Enders. Unfortunately, the Revengeance demo isn't nearly as engrossing as that first run through Sons of Liberty.
Developed by the makers of Bayonetta, Revengeance certainly looks good, but the demo fails when it comes to gameplay, as the section shown has neither the action of Bayonetta nor the depth of the prior Metal Gear games.
The demo drops players into a short mission as Raiden. You have the option of starting with a short training sequence, which occurs in VR space. This is designed to introduce the control scheme as well as provide a nod to the series history. If you look around, you can find the classic cardboard box. Once finished, it's on to the main action.
Landing outside a town, your first fight is with three goons. They're lightly armored and don't put up much of a fight. It's more practice combat than anything else, designed to get you used to using blade mode. Blade mode allows Raiden to focus on an enemy and manually slice with a blade. Cut the target to expose a cyborg's spine. Rip it out to restore your health. Yep, Raiden's basically a vampire cyborg this time around.
Further in, an enemy on the lower level offers the chance to attempt a stealth kill. It's not so much stealth as it is lining yourself up and then pressing a single action button to execute. While the animation of jumping from on high looks very cool, pressing a single button doesn't exactly make you feel like death from above. It's the same when approaching an enemy from behind. Instead of impressive stealth kills, it has the feel of a basic QTE.
Your first attempt at combat with a mixed group is likely to be overwhelming — until you learn the parry system. This is where the Revengeance demo breaks down. Every enemy in the demo has a red eye that flashes before they attack. Execute a parry right after the flash, and you'll block the incoming attack. At this point, standard enemies are open to a counter. You need to successfully parry consecutive attacks on larger opponents before they open up.
Since everything relies on the parry system, that becomes the only real mechanic you need to master to wipe the floor with the demo. There's no depth to the combat. There's not even much of a challenge past parrying. Look for the flash, parry and attack. Do that a few times, and you win. You can pull off a few blade slices for good measure, but all of the slick kill animations seem to be glorified QTEs. Slice and dice your opponent until a button press is highlighted on-screen. Press the button or buttons for a glorious execution.
Another issue with the demo is the camera, which is horrible when you're against a wall. You'll spend more time looking at the back of Raiden's head than the world. Attempting a stealth run through the demo was an exercise in frustration for this very reason. Move Raiden into a corner, and the camera situates itself between Raiden and the wall. All you can see is Raiden in the center of your screen, and that's not very useful.
While it's important not to judge an entire game based solely on the quality of a small demo level (and make no mistake, what's here is very short), the Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance demo is disappointing. Rather than entice the player, it highlights the worst bits of the Revengeance engine and doesn't do the upcoming game any favors. Here's hoping the final version of Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance isn't quite as shallow.
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