First Impressions: Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance

Uh oh. It’s hybrid-spinoff time in the Metal Gear universe. Add one cup Ninja Gaiden, one cup Metal Gear, stir, add loads of Raiden, and you’re left with Metal Gear Rising. And believe it or not, it tastes pretty damn good. Even if there are some empty calories.

Here’s the deal with Rising. If you come in hoping for Ninja Gaiden’s rewarding difficulty and fluid, meticulous combat, you’ll be disappointed. That’s not say the gameplay isn’t fun–I’m having a blast, thanks–but it’s much more button-mashy than what I’ve come to expect from action games. Combat mostly consists of weak and strong sword attacks (the button-mashy parts), but you also have “Blade Mode” which enables you to slow time and slice maniacally at an enemy once you’ve saved up enough “Electrolytes” from battle (bring some Gatorade, kids). Slice up a weakened enemy and you’ll garner his energy core, which will restore your health and set you up for another run through Blade Mode. Blade Mode felt a bit clumsy at first, but soon the gameplay quirk of slicing up enemies and chaining combos uplifted the combat experience above mere hack-n-slash.

mgr

Ripping out enemy cores restores your health and lets you chain Blade Mode combos.

If you’re surrendering gameplay depth, at least you get a solid story in return. Rising’s storyline is intriguing from the moment you press Start and the pacing is downright relentless. Although the cast of villains isn’t as memorable or developed as previous terrorist gangs from the series, Rising carries the authentic feel of a Metal Gear game. Despite being of an entirely different genre, it stays true to the franchise. Codec calls, stealth kills, and cardboard boxes all exist on the intricate level we came to expect in MGS1-3. I’d even go as far as saying that Rising is more of a Metal Gear game than MGS4. Seriously.

As of now I’m roughly seven hours into MGR and loving Hard mode (if you happen to pick this one up, play it on Hard–the game is forgiving with it’s checkpoints). Though I can’t quite recommend it to the Ninja Gaiden crowd, if you’re a Metal Gear buff or a casual action game fan, go out and grab this one.

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Metal Gear Solid 5: Tokyo Game Show takeaways

Just yesterday, I tore apart Metal Gear Solid 4 in my Most Disappointing Games write-up. If there’s one silver lining to disappointment, it’s that the next in line arrives seeming all the more impressive. After watching a 14-minute gameplay video, I can safely announce that “the next in line” (MGS5) has blown through the next-gen gates. Yeah, it’s early, but based on this Tokyo Game Show footage, Metal Gear Solid 5: The Phantom Pain looks to be returning to the series’ stealthy roots (MGS4 was too much of a shooter for me).

I’m not going to bother summarizing the video while it’s posted above, but I will note my takeaways from what I watched:

1) The video doesn’t convey the “open world” that Hideo Kojima has been hyping. While Snake does hijack a Humvee, the mission’s contained area kept it from feeling like Grand Theft Auto. Instead, this particular scenario reminded me of infiltrating Groznyj Grad in MGS3 more than anything. Now, I realize this is just a brief demo, but if we get a handful of “contained area missions” mixed into the large-scale world, I’ll dance in the streets naked. Seriously. I loved what I saw from this demo that much.

2) Snake can now carry and toss incapacitated enemies. A much needed upgrade over dragging bodies into lockers or tall grass. Loved the part when Snake chucked his kidnapee into a guard for a KO.

3) When did Snake bump into Bruce Wayne? His new gadgets enable an Arkham-style detective mode and maps complete with real-time visuals.

4) The visuals are every bit as slick as Snake’s rain-drenched suit. The trampled mud in the intro movie is disgustingly realistic.  With that said, I’m not seeing a major graphical jump from MGS4 to 5.

5) The Matrix-style slow-mo that occurs when Snake gets discovered turns me off. Will it make for some adrenaline-spurting excitement? Sure. But at the same time it loosens the emphasis on stealth. Sneaking around is only intense if you pay a major price for being spotted.

6) Loved the nuances like taking out search light operators and using the lights to spot the mission’s pivotal meeting. Also enjoyed the brief railing shooting segment from aboard the helicopter.

From here on, my major concern is how open-worlded gameplay and Metal Gear will mesh. It still sounds unfeasible to have mass-scale exploration without compromising on the series’ trademark stealth, but I’ll keep my glass half-full until the time comes.