Friday, June 29, 2012

A Baleful Glare at E3 2012, Part 2: Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance

Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance is a new spinoff of Metal Gear Solid starring everyone's favorite guy who stands in for Solid Snake when Snake is too busy doing cool stuff offscreen that we don't get to see to be the playable character, Raiden.

Actually, as one of the three people in the English-speaking world who actually liked Raiden even before he made his transformation from Who the Hell Is This Blond Guy Who's Not Solid Snake in Metal Gear Solid 2 to terrifyingly deadly sword-wielding cyborg cutscene ninja in Metal Gear Solid 4, I'm glad to see Raiden getting his day in the sun. It's a pity that it had to be accompanied by the most gratingly stupid name for a game since Toki: Going ApeSpit, but you can't have everything.

Yes, I know that “revengeance” actually is a real, albeit archaic, English word. That's not an excuse.

The game is set years after the events of Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots. Raiden- who seems to have adopted the three-packs-a-day Lucky Strikes Grizzled Badass Voice Training regimen at some point- is working as a military contractor in a war-torn country. There's an invasion or coup d'etat by an army that appears to be led by an evil bald cyborg. Much swordplay ensues.

Featuring Eric "Butterbean" Esch in a special guest appearance!
First thought: Holy CRAP, this is bloody. It's not like the previous Metal Gear Solid games were perfectly sanitary, splattering-fluids-free affairs, but this seems to be kicking it up a notch. On the one hand, it makes sense, since your main weapon this time is a sword, the developers have promised that you can cut through almost any object in the game, and the plausibility of the sort of PG-13 “guys get hit and fall over” violence possible in a game where you're using guns or your fists starts to fall apart when you take an ultrasharp futuristic blade shown to be capable of cutting through giant stone pillars and start hitting human beings with it.

On the other hand, a lot of that blood is spewing out of damaged armored vehicles, which makes less sense than virtually anything whatsoever. (Yeah, we've already seen something similar in Metal Gear Solid 4. That merely pushes the what-the-fuckness of it back a step.)

It looks pretty cool, with Raiden using his superhuman cyborg ninja agility and swordsmanship to cut a swath through hordes of enemy soldiers and robots, a slow-mo mechanic that lets Raiden make deadly precision strikes, and all sorts of crazy stunts and feats of badassery putting me in mind of Devil May Cry or Vanquish. I also think giving a new game starring Raiden a very different style of gameplay from mainline Metal Gear Solid games is a good idea since, assuming it's done well, it makes Raiden a character who's interesting and exciting in his own way, rather than returning him to his original Metal Gear Solid 2 role as the Curly Joe to Solid Snake's Curly. (Which would make Big Boss the Shemp in this analogy, I suppose.)

Despite showing initial promise, the U.S. Army's research into Jell-O-powered armored vehicles was eventually abandoned after the disappointing performance of several prototypes under field conditions.
However, it doesn't look particularly Metal Gear. It sounds ridiculous for me to say that the sort of feats Raiden pulls off in the trailer are too incongruously wild, flashy, or over-the-top to fit in with a series that's previously featured psychokinesis, nuclear-armed mecha, a Soviet colonel with the same electrical powers as Ernest in Ernest Goes to Jail, ghosts, and a man who commands an army of bees, but some of them kind of are. I don't mind, as someone who find Metal Gear interesting but doesn't have any strong investment in it, but I can see why some more devoted fans might react negatively to it.

Also, kudos to however created the trailer. I never thought I'd see the day when I'd have the words “badass” and “Depeche Mode” appear in the same thought together, but I've been proven wrong.

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