Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance is like a microcosm of my TGS experience: I hardly understood it but it was awesome. There are such huge language and cultural barriers here, but lightning-infused samurai swords cut through that quick smart. Also, it speaks to my sense of a lack of familiarity with Japanese games, and the Metal Gear franchise in particular.
Even so, the departures from earlier incarnations of the IP are pretty clear. Revengeance eschews the series’ iconic stealth mechanics in favour of fast paced action and regular mini boss fights. This is likely to annoy those who have an attachment to the franchise, as has the shift from survival horror to action horror in franchises like Resident Evil and Dead Space. This might be explained by the fact that Hideo Kojima only acts as producer for this latest entry in the series, but we should be grateful that Platinum Games came in to save the project from certain failure. It is the kind of action you might expect from Platinum Games: hyper-intense, visceral, and deeply satisfying, in a slice-them-in-half-pull-out-their-glowing-spine-and-crush-it-in-your-hand kind of way.
The TGS briefing gave us more information on Revengeance than we have yet seen, detailing elements of narrative, characterisation and plot. Unfortunately, this is where language barriers got in the way, but it was possible to infer that the plot involved arch-villains capturing a presidential-type figure, and slightly more heroic types setting out (presumably) to right the scales. The protagonist of the game is Raiden, who fans will remember from Metal Gear Solid 2 and 4, and the game is set a few years after Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots. Raiden sports some brand new black cyborg armour that is more powerful than his white armour but requires a recharge time. The plot revolves around two rival private military corporations, Maverick Security and Desperado Enterprises, playing through the intrigues of a small country emerging from civil war. All the enemies are cyborgs, which is a relief, because then you can kill as many of them as you like.
The choice of Raiden aligns with the new focus on action and swordplay, although there is still a remaining element of stealth in the form of a motion-tracking visor and the capacity to sneak up behind some enemies to thin out the numbers of RPG-wielding annoyances. From my time with the game, the enemy AI may need some work, or they just have zero peripheral vision. Here we might be seeing an uneasy balance between the stealth and action gameplay elements, and an awkward residual influence of Kojima Productions.
Personally I am very excited by the focus on swordplay. When I grow up I want to be a cyborg ninja. The key mechanic, Blade Mode, works as a type of sword-time, and allows the player to align a cutting plane with enemies or structures to strategically slice in multiple directions, with a limitation on time in the form of an energy meter. This gives a good break to the button-mashing that will ensue with this kind of action, and varies the pacing substantially. Blade Mode also allows for strategic and tactical advantages, such as slicing enemies in half to reveal pickups or buffs, and taking down structures to eliminate enemies. Aside from his sword, Raiden is also able to deploy some “secondary” weapons (the hands-on allowed us to experiment with a rocket launcher and grenade). However, the ammunition is very limited and obviously there is a strong emphasis on the sword as the main weapon.
This is clearly a game designed to be accessible to those unfamiliar with the Metal Gear series, and so it suits me perfectly, but it may not appeal quite so much to aficionados.