Archives for posts with tag: Metal Gear

RevengeanceRaiden
Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance is better than it has any right to be. Originally announced in 2009, Rising was plagued by development difficulties over its four-year incubation, even being cancelled once by series mastermind Hideo Kojima when he felt his team couldn’t create the swordplay-based game he had envisioned. The main issue for the team was in trying to balance all-out, cut-anything action with the series’ trademark methodical stealth and infiltration gameplay. Something had to give, and ultimately the stealth elements were heavily toned down. But with a new focus on action, this change paved the way for Kojima to offer the project to Osaka’s Platinum Games, a studio with a masterful command of high-octane action games.

Bringing another developer on-board caused some consternation among fans of the Metal Gear series, but if you’re one of those put off by Platinum’s involvement, don’t be. It was the right choice.

Rising begins four years after Metal Gear Solid 4, with Raiden now working for Maverick Securities, a Private Military Company. Like Metal Gear technology before it, cyborg bodies have now gone mainstream, and with the fall of the Patriots’ nanomachine technology, PMCs have since turned to these augmentations in order to both create and regulate superhuman soldiers. Raiden, supported by faces old and new (one of whom is essentially Metal Gear‘s very own Jar Jar Binks), stumbles upon a conspiracy to destabilize the world in an effort to control this new war economy, a plot supposedly led by rival PMC Desperado Enforcement LLC.

While the storyline doesn’t have the twists, turns, double-bluffs and double-crossings typical of the greater Metal Gear saga, it’s a well-realised, well-told story for a six-hour action game, even managing to shoe-horn in a decent amount of character development for Raiden, as well as a number of memorable set-pieces, interesting antagonists and moments of sheer lunacy that underline the frantic action at the game’s core.

In motion, Raiden crackles across the screen like lightning, his high frequency blade a blur as he slices through his enemies. To keep Raiden in full flow, constant aggression is the order of the day, and this is reinforced by the parrying mechanic at the heart of the game’s combat system; there is no true block move in Rising, so you need to sense an attack coming (handily telegraphed by an orange flash), then press toward your opponent at the same time as hitting the attack button. Time this right, and you’ll not only parry the strike, but dish out one of your own and give yourself an opportunity to enter blade mode – granting yourself a few seconds of slow motion where you can freely cut the enemy up into however many robotic chunks you wish, at whatever angle you deem necessary – to finish the enemy quickly and stylishly.

This focus on offense even comes into play when healing Raiden. Though there are health packs to be found throughout his adventure, by far the most satisfying way to top up Raiden’s health and energy is via the game’s Zandatsu mechanic. Sufficiently weakening an enemy before dropping into blade mode will paint a small red square over their weak point, and successfully cutting this and nailing a button press will see Raiden acrobatically tear out the poor cyborg’s juicy, gooey spine to replenish his own reserves. Zandatsu never gets old, and it’s a true joy to pirouette from one enemy to the next, tearing out their innards in a staccato ballet of whirling destruction.

Raiden_slices_Ray

Of course, it’s not a perfect game, by any means. Graphically, Rising can often look a little flat, and it’s certainly not as pretty as it was when Kojima Productions first showed off their interpretation back at E3 2010. A bigger issue is the rather wayward camera, which frequently fails to frame the action properly, something that can be fatal considering the parry requires a directional input. And while Rising has a number of sprawling, lengthy stages, the final third of the game feels very rushed; of the last three levels, one is a ten-minute tear through an area you’ve already fought through, while the other two are essentially boss fights, though fairly lengthy ones at that.

But those bosses. This is a Metal Gear game, so it needed memorable bosses. And they certainly do not disappoint. In one, you’ll leap across missiles to close distance on an enormous Metal Gear Ray, before sprinting down the side of a disintegrating building to slice the metal beast in two. And that’s just the prologue; every one of the bosses will stick in your mind, though at first that might be down to the difficulty – Rising is a tough game, and if you don’t have your parry down, the Winds of Destruction, Desperado’s top agents, will punish you cruelly.

But pay attention, become proficient at deflecting attacks, and learn their patterns, and you’ll find some fantastic set-piece battles in the game, like the fight against Mistral and her swarm of Dwarf Gekko, or a samurai showdown with Jetstream Sam in the desert at sunset. Then there’s the ludicrously epic multi-stage final boss battle which, in its early stages, feels like a return to the screen-filling bosses from arcade games of old.

It’s in these boss encounters that the equally-frenetic music really comes into its own, and it’s a perfect match for the visuals; a blend of fast guitar work, electronic beats and filtered vocals that would probably sound cheesy as all hell in any other game. In Rising, it only serves to heighten the intensity of the encounters; Monsoon’s theme in particular is absolutely drenched in adrenaline, which is just as well, considering it may well end up being the thing that keeps pushing you to beat him instead of chewing off your own fingers.

But every boss has a memorable theme that blends so well with what’s going on on-screen, like two pieces of a puzzle slotting together to create an audio-visual blitzkrieg on the senses. If you’ve ever wondered what it might feel like to pour Red Bull directly onto your brain, Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance should give you some indication.

If you’re one of those Metal Gear fans that dismissed the game, perhaps now is the time to give it a chance; it can be bought for such a pittance now that it barely counts as taking a punt, and since January of this year it’s also available on Steam. In the meantime, those that loved the game will be hoping for a sequel, and perhaps they won’t have to wait too long. Back in August last year, a Konami survey asked fans what they liked about Rising, and whether they’d buy a sequel. More recently, just last month Kojima himself took a trip to Osaka to meet with Platinum’s president Tatsuya Minami and director Hideki Kamiya.

Nothing has yet come of that meeting, but with Platinum soon finishing up Bayonetta 2 for Nintendo and TGS looming on the horizon, perhaps it’s not too much to hope that we may see a Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance 2 for PS4 and Xbox One before too long. Considering what Platinum managed to turn out in a little over a year with the first game, fans will surely be salivating at the thought of a next-gen follow-up.

Cross posted on 16bitkings

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E3 is almost upon us, so today, in lieu of the usual ‘Sunday Soapbox’ piece, I’ve decided to list some of the things I’ll be looking forward to or blindly hoping for. Because everybody loves a good list, don’t they?

The 2012 Electronic Entertainment Expo starts on Tuesday June 5th at the Los Angeles Convention Centre, though Microsoft will be jumping ahead of the competition by having their press conference the day before. Yup, that means tomorrow!

So what am I looking forward to? I’ll try and group my thoughts by publisher or developer, so read on to find out, and then leave a comment to let me know what you’re looking forward to.

Microsoft
Seeing as they’re first off the blocks, I’ll get straight onto the Xbox 360 manufacturer, and the obvious starting point is Halo 4.

I’ve mentioned before that I’m a massive, massive Halo fanboy, so I’m predictably overexcited about the prospect of seeing some single-player footage, learning more about the setting and figuring out just what in the name of Sergeant Johnson is going on. I’ve read a few previews that have all described the beginning of the game (which unfortunately doesn’t answer any of the above questions), and I have a feeling that this is what we’ll be seeing as an on-stage demo. Not that this would disappoint me of course – I really want to see what 343i have achieved with their first entry into the franchise.

It’ll also be interesting to see what the devs have to say about multiplayer; fans have been worrying that Halo 4 seems to be going the Call of Duty route, with perks and other xp-based unlockables. Halo has always been an open playing field – if you win, it’s because you’re better than the opposition, not because you have better equipment. Hopefully 343 will be on-hand to allay fans’ fears.

The new Gears of War game, titled Judgment, will also be a big draw for Microsoft’s conference, and again, I’m looking forward to find out what’s going on. It appears to be a prequel, given the existence of Locust forces and the fact that Cole looks very young, and it’ll also be interesting to see how deep Bulletstorm creator People Can Fly’s involvement goes. Essentially nothing is known about this title yet, so hopefully a full reveal will help to ground it somewhere in the existing Gears canon.

I’m also wondering whether we’ll see more of Crytek’s Kinect action game Ryse this year. It’s been awfully quiet of late regarding the former Codename: Kingdoms, so perhaps E3 is the perfect time to show it off. Sticking with the Kinect theme, I’m hoping to get a good long look at Yukio Futatsugi’s Crimson Dragon. As a big, big fan of Sega’s Panzer Dragoon (all four games still proudly grace my shelf), the spiritual successor to that series is one of my most highly anticipated games this year. An on-stage demo would be great, as would a release date.

Yukio Futatsugi’s Crimson Dragon.

Sony
What I really want to see from Sony at this year’s E3 is massive support for their new handheld. I absolutely love my Vita (I’m currently making my way through Resistance: Burning Skies), but most wouldn’t argue the point that it’s floundering in the marketplace at the moment. Some big new franchise announcements specifically for the Vita would certainly help alleviate the perception that it has no games. Seeing Ken Levine walk on-stage to demo BioShock Vita would certainly be a good start, and perhaps we’ll hear more about Killzone and Call of Duty. Aside from shooters, I’m hoping we’ll hear about some good RPGs coming to the handheld in the next year.

Besides the Vita, some gameplay footage of The Last of Us would be great to see. The trailers so far have got mouths watering, but we know nothing of how the game will play. Will it be a post-apocalyptic Uncharted, or will Naughty Dog pull out all the stops and head in a completely new direction? I can’t wait to find out.

Joel and Ellie, wondering what they’ll be doing for the next ten hours.

Square-Enix
The Tokyo-based company recently announced their list of games they will be showcasing at E3, and all I can say is I hope they’re planning to hit us with a load of surprises. On the list were Hitman: Absolution, Tomb Raider, Theatrhythm Final Fantasy, Heroes of Ruin and Kingdom Hearts 3D for the 3DS. The rest are mostly mobile phone games.

Seriously Square-Enix? It’s Final Fantasy‘s 25th anniversary! Come on! They have to have something up their sleeves, don’t they? Final Fantasy Versus XIII is apparently not being shown at E3, although recent rumours have claimed it’ll be renamed Final Fantasy XV and will in fact be unveiled at the trade show… I’m taking that one with a barge-full of salt, but I am blindly hoping for some kind of big FF news at the Expo, considering the 25-year milestone. At the very least I want to see the PS3/PSV re-release of Final Fantasy X that we’ve heard absolutely nothing about in God knows how long. If Square-Enix’s conference holds no surprises, I’ll be very disappointed.

Nintendo
The house of Mario are expected to unveil their final Wii U hardware and, more than anything, I’m hoping to see a gorgeous HD Metroid adventure (hopefully from Retro Studios please!). Despite last year’s HD Zelda demonstration, I don’t expect to be seeing anything from Link and friends this year, though I imagine we’ll get a proper glimpse of a new Mario game. I think Nintendo will keep Wii U game reveals to a minimum and focus on the console and tablet and what they can do together, allowing third parties to take up the slack, as they did with their E3 2011 showreel.

Hopefully we’ll see some great new 3DS titles announced (perhaps a new handheld Zelda?) as well as get a good look at New Super Mario Bros 2, and I’d love to see more of Luigi’s Mansion 2.

Namco-Bandai
Having recently watched a Namco-Bandai presentation (at last week’s London Expo), I’m not foaming at the mouth (quite as much) to see Ni No Kuni and Tales of Graces f, though more on both would certainly be welcome. I’d love to get confirmation of a European release date for Tales of Xillia though, and I’d imagine we’ll be seeing more of the recently-announced Xillia 2. Tying into my earlier words about Vita games, I’m also hoping we’ll get a Western release announcement for the handheld’s version of Tales of Innocence R, too.

Others
Electronic Arts will no doubt have a strong presence at the show, and I’m looking forward to a full-on Dead Space 3 reveal, though I am worried about how far co-op will permeate the core experience of the game; let’s hope it’s entirely optional, though I’d prefer it if co-op was a separate side-story entirely. Crysis 3 will most likely also be a focus for EA, and I’ll be hoping it’s more like the first than the second, with large, open environments with flowing objectives and tactical options that allow you to feel like the Predator.

I’m hoping to get a good look at both Zone of the Enders HD Collection and Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance from Konami, and it seems they’ll also be tearing the veil from two new Castlevania games – a direct sequel to 2010’s Lords of Shadow and a 3DS spin-off.

Ubisoft are expected to show off tropical shooter Far Cry 3 and colonial stab-’em-up Assassin’s Creed 3, and I’ll be looking to THQ to show us how Metro: Last Light is coming along. Last but by absolutely no means least, I’m hoping for a solid release date for Jet Set Radio HD. And while you’re at it Sega, how about some Shenmue news?

Yeah, I’ll keep dreaming…