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Metal Gear Rising preview: Extended hands-on reveals killer MGS game

Japan's greatest devs combine forces

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"We've left players the option to go in hard and fight with everyone coming at you, but we also leave a few pathways to come in behind and kill an enemy in a stealthy way."

Striking stealthily is the only way to rescue civilians under armed guard, and even with a one-button takedown, Raiden gets to cut, cut, cut - aiming at the cyborg's spine to retrieve his power source and his left arm to retrieve his personal data recorder. Hitting the core nets you health and hitting the arm earns you points for upgrades; hitting both should be your objective every time.

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Like Platinum's last major action game, Bayonetta, Raiden starts ill-equipped for a fight. X is your precision strike and y your sweeping horizontal slice, and his early combos are rudimentary at best. There are a couple of simple mashy five-hit combos, and even Raiden's launcher - lofting enemies skywards and following them into the air - is weak on level one, but that's just the beginning. Doktor can provide upgrades as you go, and to prove the point Korekado shows off something nobody saw at TGS, and plugs in a controller of his own to fight one of the game's key bosses, Mistral.

BOSS RUSH

"Mistral uses Dwarf Gekkos as a weapon and as her allies," Korekado explains, as the multi-armed cyborg stitches a half-dozen Gekko arms together into a long staff. "You attack her weapon until you break her guard, then go into Blade Mode to hit a perfect slice on her staff's weak point to create an opening." It's here Korekado demonstrates some of Raiden's late-game moves, like the Bayonetta-style diving kick - a trick she learned from Viewtiful Joe. Platinum's ex-Clover, ex-Capcom roots show through most clearly in the boss fights where each stage of the fight is accompanied by an increase in the music's intensity and logic goes out of the window in favour of insane spectacle.

In another moment shown exclusively to CVG, White Raiden takes on the customised Metal Gear Ray, body-slamming the entire mech by one of its sword-arms before being blasted into the face of a clock tower by Ray's murder-laser. As Ray launches a missile barrage, Raiden sprints down the tower's side, dodging incoming missiles as the tower collapses around him and the clock face tumbles through the air.

Some reckon Platinum have gone too far, but it's not the first time we've seen him fight like a superhuman. In MGS4, an armless Raiden fought an army with a sword clenched between his teeth, then held back a city-sized battleship on the shores of Shadow Moses just by digging his heels in. Insanity is a Metal Gear staple.

"Our main vision was to create something that only Platinum Games could create as an action game," says game director, Kenji Saito. "When Kojima Productions were making their game, they started seeing the limitations of what their action game can do. When that happened they started referring to Metal Gear Solid 4 and that scene where Raiden battled the Gekkos. Now, that was something Platinum Games could make as an action game and still fit that into the Metal Gear world."

After saving the detained civilian, carefully stealth-slicing his captor through the spine and left arm, we advance on a checkpoint further down the road where we're attacked by a full-sized Gekko and a handful of cyborgs in the first real test of Raiden's abilities. Attacking the Gekko's chassis or legs will weaken it to the point it can be cleaved with Blade Mode, but later you'll discover that like almost every other enemy in the game, it can be stealth- killed with a single hit.

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While Raiden goes to war in Abkhazia, his support team at Maverick Enforcements keeps him appraised of the state of play. Boris is the game's Colonel Campbell and Raiden's boss, Kevin is your military advisor, Courtney is the girl who'll save your game and Doktor is your expert on sci-fi tech.

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