Metal Gear Solid: Rising was announced at Konami's press conference in 2009, in part as a demonstration of its ability to perform engine-based development. Development seemed to fall apart, but the idea of the game that cast the player in the role of Metal Gear Solid 2 main character Raiden was too good to pass up. Three years later, Konami has shown us more of the results, now that the idea has been handed off to Platinum Games, famous for Bayonetta. Surprisingly, it's not quite a clone of Bayonetta, and it's on its way to being an excellent add-on to the series.
Fans of Metal Gear Solid 2 will be at home with a particular aspect of the controls. The Blade mode mechanic slows down play to Bullet Time and switches the sword controls to work much like those of MGS2, with control temporarily switching to the right analog stick, allowing for rapid and ridiculously precise strikes. While slicing a watermelon into eight perfect slices is a fine demonstration, the game also showed off how this will affect play, forcing Raiden to take a precise swing to kill a cardboard terrorist without scratching his cardboard hostage.
Yes, cardboard. The demo consisted primarily of the game's tutorial, taking place in a virtual reality environment. Metal Gear Solid's classic VR training this is not. The tutorial then demonstrated Raiden's ability to go into a high-speed dash mode by forcing him to flee a collapsing bridge, and we also saw his acrobatic prowess in a series of goon fights. A classic "find the key" element showed that there is still some stealth in the game by encouraging the player to find a specific guard who was carrying a passcode without being spotted.
To show off the subweapon mechanic and the "85% destructible environments," in came an armored helicopter. The chopper could be fought in one of two ways. Initially, I stuck to picking up one-shot homing missile launchers (essentially the Stingers from previous entries), only to find the pilot could shoot them down. I slipped around to catch him from the side or behind, and he happily wrecked my cover, making it harder to take the alternate path of jumping up to the helicopter and using Blade mode to get in some quick strikes.
All of this came with Platinum's high level of polish, with exceptional levels of destruction on display. The voice acting that was on display, consisting of a few samples from Raiden and the narration of an unknown Russian voice (it did not sound like series recurring enemy Revolver Ocelot) were both top-notch, along with some solid music that combined a few Metal Gear overtones to an action-style soundtrack.
As the demo continued, the helicopter fell, and I was presented with the next environment of a destroyed street. Looking up, the Metal Gear Solid 2 enemy known as Metal Gear Ray was about to smack Raiden with its tail. The screen cut to black, and a "Thank you" screen ended the demo.
While the demo definitely had touches of Devil May Cry-like action craziness, it still maintains a startlingly strong Metal Gear aftertaste. Millions of gamers who never thought they would play as Raiden again might be pleasantly surprised next year. It's also a good sign that Metal Gear can continue without Hideo Kojima at the helm or any of the Snakes as the main character.
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