So the demo of Metal Gear Rising finally hit live the other day and finally got a chance to try it out after putting the kid to sleep. I had prepared myself beforehand by replaying a couple of Bayonetta levels to get me back into the platinum games swing of things.
So first off, visually. The setting looks good but not especially great: the demo is set in your standard non-descript eastern European/Russian town, conveniently devoid of inhabitants. However one thing I notice that Platinum games does incredibly well is flourish: their calling card is the distortion effect used whenever something like sword or staff is swung very fast: They are masters of using that ripple in the visual field to actively convey quick movement (Go on and check it out in Bayonetta, Vanquish, and Anarchy Reigns). All that's missing is the light saber SWOOOOSH sound). Swords crackle and enemies satisfyingly cut into pieces with sprays of blood/cybergoo. This Raiden is a far cry from the whiny-emo protagonist of Sons of Liberty, and that creepy skeletal lower jaw of his only cements that.
Control wise, the design both familiar and new. The Blade mode sword mechanic controls similarly to dead island's melee, and is just as as satisfying. The tutorial level gives a good show of the basics of it but miss one detail that i found critical to the mechanic. When you aim which way you want to slash, you are actually only aiming the backwards wind up motion, you can just let go of the stick and Raiden will follow all the way through in a straight line. I initially thought you literally aimed the wind up motion and then threw the stick forward to follow through. This comes into play when you have to slash specific areas/angles of a target. I found it tough to aim with a manual follow through, and realizing that I didn't have to worry about it was a definite plus. It is a ton of fun though especially when you get into parries and literally slice enemies into pieces (more on that later). And while you can slice random boxes, crates, cars, lamposts etc (which is oddly cathartic), there are limits to what you can cut. I guessing for the demo there is no limit to the blade mode timer but it does feel a little overpowered at times. It does have a function outside of shits and slicing giggles: As you filet your hapless foe you will expose their nanospines which replenish raidens health completely. Again not sure if that is just for demo puposes as makes it quicte difficult to die.
You have the standard light and heavy melee attacks which create combos. Raiden moves with the signature Japanese I'm-rocking-heavy-ass-armor-but-I-move-like-a-feather fluidity. The only thing that looks and moves a little clunky is his jumping animation, but as i quickly learned 99% of the time you wont be jumping anyway. You have a dash, but thats more of a misnomer: you do move faster, but it function more akin to Assassin's Creed traversal mechanic: with it engaged you automatically climb walls and jump. Only thing I couldn't figure out is if it counted as a "sneak". You can sneak up on enemies to perform one hit kills and it boots you score and the end of each encounter (when spotted they gain exclamation points and make the iconic metal gear solid alert sound, nice), but I found it more fun to just run around slicing and dicing. What is very different is the blocking mechanic, or lack thereof. You dont hold a button to block, instead you push toward the enemy and X. This activates a block that stops everything from RPG shots to kicks from those weird ass moo-ing bipedal enemies (I understand they come from Guns of the Patriots). The rub is when you do it right before you get hit, you execute a parry that repels the attack, and leaves the enemy wide open and a QTE. Nail that, and you get a brief cinematic of Raiden going HAM on the poor sap and an extended(?) blade mode session, usually whilst in the middle of the air at a crazy angle. technically you are then supposed to surgically slice the enemy to get their spine and end the sequence, but I STRONGLY RECOMMEND (my emphasis, not Platinum's) you instead go crazy with the sword slicing. Just like in Fruit Ninja/Veggie Samurai, the ultimate satisfaction is tons of wild swipes turning your target into an exploding of blob of mist and finely diced body parts. it never gets old. However to get all that goodness you have to get used to not having a dedicated block or dodge button. I got used the the parry motion, but i wonder in the full game when you are getting attacked by ,multiple enemies how bad the lack of a dodge will be. You can lock onto a single target with RB (this is imperative against the miniboss at the end of the demo who moves very quickly) and it tends to choose the right enemy to focus on (unlke in Anarchy reigns), but I see a potentially huge window for cheap off screen shots from enemies. fortunately there is none of that in the demo.
The last thing that I really liked about the demo is that this is a Platinum game, have no doubts about it. Only this time they have the entire lore of Metal gear lore from which to draw from and create weird enemies, zany characters, and their signature oddball humor. Plus it still has the Metal gear standby of optional codec conversations, And most importantly the game is just flat out fun. I immediately pre-ordered after i played through it a bunch of times, and hope thats lots of other people do too.