Spin-offs to popular franchises rarely work; just ask anyone who played Resident Evil: Operation Racoon City. So, when we heard that one of PlayStation’s biggest names, Metal Gear Solid, was being turned into a hack ‘n slash game our hearts immediately sank.
Following some hands-on time with Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance, however, it's clear that it's is no ordinary spin-off thanks to a unique slicing mechanic that makes Konami’s fast-paced third-person action game unlike anything else we’ve played at E3.
Developed by Platinum games, the same team behind the brilliant Bayonetta, Konami gave PSU access behind the scenes to the game’s tutorial mode, which introduces you to Raiden’s move-set and the type of gameplay we can expect from the campaign.
One thing we can be sure of is that Metal Gear Rising is going to be extremely challenging. A.I. was tough during the 30 minute demo and the two mini-bosses we fought required strategy, timing and accuracy to beat. Getting used to the new slice mechanic was also tricky. Though you can execute multiple attacking combos and parries with the face buttons with the katana-wielding Raiden, it’s the slice mechanic that takes combat to new level.
We tested out the new move by holding down the trigger which is how you enter blade mode. The action immediately slows down and you have to use your right stick to slash straight lines across any angle to slice and dice any object or opponent. This requires both accuracy and speed even when time is slowed down. We tested this out on a car, a watermelon, cyborg soldiers and even a helicopter; and it's impressive how all objects cut and fall apart realistically. The resulting animation is also gloriously violent when you slice enemies apart, allowing you to cut legs, arms and heads clean off.
The learning curve feels fairly steep in the tutorial, but it's like any game where you’re introduced to a new system. It took us about 15 minutes before we’d got to grips with getting anywhere close to slicing at just the angles we wanted to, but before long we were taking out a small army of cyborg soldiers through a combination of well-timed parries, face-button mashing and accurate slicing. In free slicing mode it’s a bit trickier as you don’t have the slowdown to help you out, so you need to be so much faster and more accurate.
The action was very fast-paced, often with multiple opponents attacking from various angles, therefore dashing out the way and parrying was just as important as attack. We particularly enjoyed the finishing move when a prompt appeared on the screen allowing us to rip an enemy’s spine out.
In fact, there were a few short QTE sections that added more flair to some of the battles against the tougher enemies, or mini-bosses. These challenging moments were made more impressive by short cinematic cut-scenes to draw you into the action.
By the end of the 30 minute demo we hadn’t quite managed to get the hang of Raiden’s slicing skills, but we did have a good time moving fluently from one enemy to the other and taking them out in a variety of gory ways. It also looks as though Platinum will mix things up nicely with enemy types - the final battle required us to blast a helicopter with a missile before using Raiden’s platforming skills to hop up the fallen debris and jump on its roof to execute a quick series of slashes to cut it into pieces.
One thing’s for sure, Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance feels very different to any hack ‘n slash game we’ve played before, and this E3 taster has left us keen to see just how the gameplay progresses and what other enemies Platinum has in store for us.
Metal Gear Rising is due for release in early 2013.