Originally I wasn’t sure whether or not I would be getting this game or not. I may not be a super fan of MGS games, but I do enjoy them. However this being a hack n slash game caused me some concern. Oh, and by HnS I mean games like DMC, Ninja Gaiden, God of War and not games like Diablo, BG:DA, older Pc titles, etc. I know, weird right? Not sure why these schmucks re-purposed the genre name, but that’s a horse of a different color. So anyway, I haven’t been too fond of the genre in the past. Ninja Gaiden was really difficult for me, even on easy. I tried one DMC game, 3 I think, but I was so bad that I kept unlocking easier difficulties. Eventually I gave up rather than continually being insulted. Ever since then I’ve avoided the genre, aside from the God of War series which I actually have beaten on the top difficulty. However I don’t think those games are too hard and don’t require nearly the reflexes needed for some of these harder HnS games. A few years ago I came to the sad realization that I lacked the speed and reflexes for these games, along with fighting games. I love them, but I can’t ever win against real people.
I seem to have drifted off on a tangent… Basically I did a lot of deep thinking and decided that after all this time I should just give it a try. The game looked to appealing to pass up. So far I’ve put several hours into the game but I’m actually had quite a positive experience.
The game takes place some time after Metal Gear Solid 4. I couldn’t really tell you much else because despite having played through the series multiple times I can never seem to remember much of the convolued storyline. In the game you play as Raiden in all his badass cyber ninja glory. Say what you want about the guy, but I’d like to see snake leap frog missiles and cut a helicopter in half. It’s not a MGS game, though, so don’t go in expecting a stealth espionage game. It’s essentially a cyborg ninja spinoff.
Read the rest of my impressions after the break.
The gameplay thus far seems to be your general HnS fare. Strong attacks, light attacks, combos and jumping. There is no straight up blocking button, however. In order to parry enemies you have to press the movement stick in the direction of the enemy and press the light attack with the correct timing. Too early and you merely guard, wasting a good counter-attack opportunity. There doesn’t seem to be any platforming sections to worry about and if you need to cross the terrain quickly you can use Raiden’s ninja run ability which greatly increases your speed, allows stylish traversal, and bullet blocking. Additionally there are some stealth mechanics, this being Metal Gear and all, but from what I’ve seen so far it’s just really basic stuff. You can insta kill enemies from behind or above and I think the cardboard box even makes a return. While I guess you could try and avoid or stealth kill your way trough some parts of the game it doesn’t feel like a whole lot of thought was put into it. That’s not a bad thing, though, this being an action game and all.
The game’s major mechanic and shtick is blade mode. By pressing down the left shoulder button you can slow dow time and perform controlled cuts with your blade, or just go ham and mash the attack buttons. Not only does this powerful move dispatch enemies fast, but is vital to several aspects of the game. Precision cuts are needed on certain bosses or to cut off the left arms of certain soldiers(collectables)and to reveal and collect the life restoring nano-paste inside other cyborgs. It never gets old seeing Raiden cut enemies in half, or even eighths. Hell, cutting anything is really awesome. See a bus? Cut it in half. That giant palm tree? It’s in pieces. How about this boulder? Oh, that doesn’t cut, nevermind.
By defeating enemies and obtaining a high score you gain BP(I’m pretty sure that’s what it’s called), which is a currency used to purchase upgrades like increased health, damage, and new abilities/combos. BP can also be earned by playing VR missions and more from completing them under various par times. The VR missions are unlocked from variously terminals that can be found around the game.
There have been a lot of rumors and speculation about the game length ever since screenshots were posted with a 5 or so hr. completion time. Ever since then, due to trolls and ignorance, the game’s length has been reported as low as 2 hours. It’s actually quite fascinating to watch on forums. It seemed every day the game’s length shortened. I can’t tell you how long the game is exactly as I haven’t beaten it yet, but the way the game timer works is confusing. Apparently the game only records gameplay, and not cutscene time. Additionally it only records your fastest completion time of a given segment and not all the time spent replaying fights if you die. I also heard it only records your battle time and not any time spent lingering around levels looking for secrets, etc. It’s an odd way to do things for sure. However most people who have actually completed the game say that it’s about 8-10 hours, depending on your difficulty. Still, this number seems small to some people, but in fact it is about standard for the genre. These games are usually meant to be replayed several times as there are unlockables and some brutal difficulty levels. You can actually invest a good deal of time here, especially with the VR missions; more of which will be coming exclusively to PS3.
Speaking of PS3, that’s actually the platform I got the game for. Usually I would stick to the 360, as some might notice, but from what I hear the PS3 version is superior as the Xbox version is rife with screen tearing. It also looks nice that I have all my Metal Gear games on the Playstation brand. Oh, and exclusive VR DLC doesn’t hurt. Regardless, the game probably still runs well on 360. What I can tell you though is that it looks fantastic and runs very smoothly on PS3.
So in the end I’m glad about the risk I took on the game. It’s challenging, sure, but just so much fun and full of a lot of style and equal amounts of cheesy dialogue and rad melt-your-face action that you come to expect from the Metal Gear franchise.