Those of you who are aware of the Zone of the Enders HD collection that was recently released (and reviewed on this site) would know that the games were created by Hideo Kojima, the creator of the legendary Metal Gear series.
Back in the day, like many of you, I played with a mixture of frustration and sense of achievement when beating a boss, or completing a level of this classic series. Personally I have been out of the loop as far as this series is concerned. Revengeance is set in the future, some three years after the events portrayed in Metal Gear: Guns of the Patriots.
Snake is gone, we have a new hero, who has already been through trials and tribulations to put it mildly. The end of Guns of the Patriot saw this hero survive but not without cost. He lost and eye and a limb to the game's villain. Well the very same villain that inflicted these injuries is back and needless to say it's time for payback.
But he is not alone. He comes back as the leader of a group of cyborgs and robots and he is up to his old tricks. Time for our hero to go back after him and get vengeance, sorry I mean justice. Heck you know what I mean!
Being a demo that has been bundled with the aforementioned Zone of the Enders HD collection, there isn't much to go through here. This is not a review exactly but an article about what you may well expect from the full title when it comes out later this month.
So what do we have here? Well, we have a very different style of presentation for one. This has a glossier, more futuristic feel to it as far as uniforms/costumes go. With bipedal robots and armoured cyborgs taking the place of human mercenaries as you would have got in days gone by.
But for some people, it may seem that the main hero's weaponry has taken a step backward. He comes equipped with a sword that can cut like Wolverine's claws, through practically everything from trees to wrecked cars. Other weapons can be collected on the way such as rocket launchers and grenades, but the days of sneaking around, hiding under boxes armed with a silenced gun, and taking out guards with sneak attacks are gone.
Some things remain though. The codec system for saving and talking to NPC's who give you tactical advice etc etc stays. That's a nostalgic touch that is appreciated by myself.
With it comes the dry humour that made the speeches between Snake and his cohorts memorable.
The combat zones are still in urban areas, as was the case with Patriots. Graphics present these environments in razor sharp HD and they look, even in the demo, splendid. Opening FMV sequences are worthy of the Final Fantasy studio in their crispness and I love the stealth jet and the way our hero arrives on the scene of the first zone of conflict.
Textures look great, and you can see from the screenshots what it's going to look like. In the flesh, so to speak, it lives up to expectations even for the demo but (and you knew that there was going to be a but) the changes come with the gameplay.
Now maybe this was the case for Guns as well, but the stealth seems to have been done away with. Where is the hiding in shadows, the creeping carefully around the environment that was such a key element to previous titles?
I checked the control layout and there seems to be a distinct lack of any input linked to going to cover as you got with Ghost Recon Future Soldier or indeed, Hunted: Demon's Forge. I'd have thought that this would have been essential or at least an option for a game like this, but rather surprisingly our hero can seemingly walk around in the open and not be spotted until he engages an enemy in combat.
Now if the stealth kill was there that may not be an issue. Maybe it's comes in the full game, something that can/has to be unlocked as I noticed that there seems to be a sort of an XP award for taking out foes and combat performance.
Then we get the button prompt attacks for larger foes, akin to those seen in Shadow of the Colossus. Indeed these are delivered after climbing the larger foes. Be quick responding to these prompts or you will be thrown clear.
When it comes to battle you can swing wildly, or you can fine tune the angle and direction of attack. In theory this sounds fine, but I noticed some trouble with the camera angle in this fine tune mode that I hope is addressed when the full game comes out.
But general melee combat is fast, fluid and brutal. Damage is dealt in a visceral fashion and in the finished end game it would appear that you can target body parts. I get this from NPC interaction as a Doctor says that you should collect the left hand of Cyborgs as these contain chips that hold upgrade data and new battle tactics/moves. You cannot do this in the demo.
But the combat system was the one thing that jarred with me. This is Metal Gear, but plays in some ways like recent titles like Darksiders or God of War and purists may find this a step too far. It will be interesting to see in the finished game whether the combat will be more refined. I kind of hope so, because I felt like I was playing Ninja Gaiden rather then MGS at times and that left me with mixed feelings.
Exciting yes, but as some fans might complain of new versions of old TV shows, it didn't quite feel like it fitted in as being canon to the series as it were. I would like to see the full game and get into reviewing it.
Yes the demo surprised me, but intrigued me enough to make me want to see how it unfolds. It's just that older gamers like myself, may wonder if this can really be called a Metal Gear Solid game. Perhaps the full version will be a revelation, only time will tell.
This could be a bold new step forward for the series, but it could also divide Metal Gear fandom, and that was something that Guns of the Patriots did or so I believe.
Game physics etc will be covered when it comes to a full review of the game proper, but this is one to watch out for, in more ways than one. Watch this space.