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PAX Prime 2012 – Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance
by Andrew Testerman

Swords, not sneaking—that's the name of the game in Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance.

Longtime fans of Hideo Kojima's Tactical Espionage Action series may be shocked by the switch from subterfuge to swordplay, but there's a reason Konami dropped the "Solid" moniker. Rising: Revengeance—that name!—is a new take on the classic Metal Gear series, swapping careful infiltration for ninja acrobatics and dropping the old, familiar Metal Gear Solid tune in favour of some deep cuts.

The demo places Raiden in a virtual reality training environment, stepping him through the controls and letting players experiment with chopping everything around them into little bits, recalling the kitchen bit in the Metal Gear Solid 2 demo. Raiden fights his way through several waves of guards before the simulation sics a helicopter gunship on him. After fleeing from the helicopter across a crumbling bridge, Raiden fillets a few more guards and a small Gekko-like walker before bringing down the chopper, ending the demo.

Combat in Rising: Revengeance is pure Platinum, recalling fast, fluid stylish-action games like the studio's own Bayonetta. Raiden alternates between light/heavy attacks akin to games like Devil May Cry and free-form cutting for more finessed targeting. Activating the cutting mode causes everything to move in slow motion, letting plays use the analogue sticks to guide Raiden's blade. Some enemies carry blades of their own, though, and Raiden must weaken them with regular attacks before implementing any surgical strikes. Cutting drains Raiden's stock of energy, but he can recharge by slicing an enemy just right and performing an accompanying Quick-Time Event.

For players who still enjoy evading guards and staying undetected, Rising: Revengeance does allow for a modicum of sneaking. Raiden can catch enemies off-guard with stealth kills, recharging his ninja blade for more slow-motion cutting. Enemies have a cone of vision, letting players plan their approach like in past Metal Gear Solid games, and guards still emit their infamous klaxon—you know the one—upon spotting Raiden. Of course, once Raiden is spotted, he has much greater offensive capabilities, and I approached every conflict head-on and blade-out.

Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance also brings a surprising level of gore to the series, as Raiden turns guards into finely-chopped bits of sashimi with blood gushing from every new cut. The demo mitigates this by informing Raiden that all of the enemy soldiers are "cyborgs," implying that no one has a cyborg spouse at home or any cyborg kids to pick up from cyborg soccer practice, but Rising: Revengeance's near-fetish level enthusiasm for seeing how many times you can bisect a soldier with a sword feels slightly icky. Still, the violence is so over-the-top it crosses into darkly comic territory, and fits with Platinum Games' huge, stylish motif.

I've never been a big fan of the Metal Gear Solid franchise, bad as I am at the stealth genre, and I was tepid towards Rising: Revengeance based on its trailer and development history. Ten minutes with Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance changed my opinion completely, and I can't wait to get my hands on more. Look for Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance to launch early next year in North America and Europe, and for a demo bundled with Zone of the Enders: HD Collection at the end of 2012.

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- Andrew Testerman

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