Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance is a game about maintaining your energy. In the demo I played, the first thing the tutorial demonstrated was “Blade Mode”. Once you have enough energy, holding LT on the Xbox 360 controller makes Raiden draw his sword and the world slows down.
A line is then drawn along the screen according to Raiden’s slicing angle. Much like the few brilliant moments of Neverdead, quickly moving the right analog stick from one angle to the point 180 degrees opposite would slice whatever object that happened to be unfortunate enough to be in Raiden’s way…including the clothes off of a cardboard cutout of a woman when I happened to slice too close to her while removing the head of the cardboard cutout soldier holding her hostage.
(It was an awkward moment.)
Like many action games before it, Rising uses X for wide-reaching quick attacks and Y for more powerful (but still pretty quick) attacks. Chaining these together allows Raiden to build up energy, while getting hit loses it. While the demo was very generous about the amount of energy it provided me, as long as I was in Blade Mode, I was losing energy. If my energy dropped below a certain level, Blade Mode could not be activated.
However, there are two key elements that set Metal Gear Rising apart from other action games.
The first is “Ninja Run”. Holding RT in the demo would surround Raiden with electricity and allow him to jump up walls, hop and over cars and other obstacles, and deflect bullets with his sword. On top of that, attacking in Ninja Run would simply slice whatever was around Raiden to bits. I used it to cut an old ferris wheel down. It fell onto a truck which then exploded, taking out one of my enemies.
Raiden could also parry attacks by pressing Y in the direction of the incoming attack. Everything that wasn’t a bullet could be parried, from enemy blades to the kicks of the “Gekko” robot towards the end of the demo. This sounds like a negligible point, but considering that Raiden has no guard or dodge available to him, it made the game feel much quicker. Raiden was never not on the offense, and a series of attacks (or a well-timed parry), could stun an enemy, leaving them open to a “Zandatsu”.
When Raiden used Blade Mode, a little square target would appear on the enemy he was about to cut. Directing a single clean slice through that target and pressing B at the right time and would make Raiden tear the spinal cord-like energy cell out of the divided foe and crush it, filling his own energy gauge. This is the Zandatsu feature. A full energy gauge would allow Raiden to throw enemies into the air and leap over them while slashing wildly in Blade Mode. It was gratuitously violent, but very cool.
When I finally got into a rhythm in Rising, it became a dance of parries, stunned enemies, and energy cell removal. While I worry that Blade Mode might be a bit overpowered, I’ve been told that certain enemies will require more energy to slice and that this demo was deliberately made easy so people could enjoy cutting things.
Food for Thought:
1. After I’d removed an enemy’s legs, he still crawled toward me, blade drawn. I put him out of his misery shortly afterwards, but I’m curious to see how much longer de-limbed enemies keep fighting.
2. While in Blade Mode, X and Y do horizontal and vertical attacks, which are faster than using the right analog stick, but not quite as fun or accurate.
3. All of the enemies you fight in the game are cyborgs, so the game isn’t quite as gratuitously gory as it first appears. The “blood” that sprays from the enemy soldiers and Gekkos is just oil.