The thirty minutes or so of Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance that I played at the Tokyo Game Show were entirely in Japanese. I had no idea what was going on in the story (not that I ever really know what's going on in a Metal Gear game anyway), and the purpose of my mission was never clear.
With the narrative out of the picture, I was left only with the gameplay itself. Thankfully, based on what I experienced of the Kojima Productions / Platinum Games collaboration, that was more than enough. Luckily, the language of circle, square, triangle and X is essentially universal, so I was able to grasp the tutorial without much difficulty. As super cyborg Raiden, I easily learned to jump, slice and stab with the face buttons. In a visually interesting turn of events, his stronger attacks actually see him attach his sword to his feet, slicing huge arcs of destruction through the air with each mighty kick.
As great as these basic combinations looks and feel, it's the slow-motion slicing that quickly becomes Rising's bread and butter. Holding L1 drastically slows time and enables precision slicing via the right analog stick. Position the sword above Raiden's head, release the stick and he'll send it slashing straight down. Move it to the right and he'll sweep the sword violently to the left. It sounds confusing – and it is at first – but a handy visual guide coupled with the slow motion effectively eases the learning curve.
Soon I felt myself slipping into the rhythm of Rising, a rhythm that will likely be familiar to fans of Platinum's previous games like Bayonetta: confrontation with a group of enemies, balletic obliteration of said enemies, repeat. The kicker is that finishing enemies in Rising is a game unto itself. Sure, Raiden can simply dish out combos to dispatch foes, but the real fun is in softening them up first and then dismembering them in slow motion.
Chopping enemies into bits isn't just for amusement either, as doing so accurately is the only way for Raiden to reach in and rip out their cyborg spines. Said spines are essential for regenerating Raiden's health, which he accomplishes by crushing them in his fist, resulting in a grisly display of cyborg effluence.
Humanoid foes aren't the only thing that Raiden slices into. The demo at TGS also included Gekkos, the miniature, mooing Metal Gears seen in Metal Gear Solid 4. The bird-walking beasties return in Rising, and served as one of the demo's nastier baddies. The Gekkos move quickly and are more than capable of keeping up with Raiden if you attempt to run away. During my first session, I made the mistake of trying to fight two at once. It didn't end well, with the Gekkos blasting, kicking and otherwise maiming poor Raiden. My second attempt fared much better, and a little patience and precision paid off with two dead Gekkos and a fresh cyborg spine for my growing collection.
The two of them engaged in a rather lengthy conversation. Again, it was in Japanese, so I couldn't understand it, but things were pretty clearly about to go down. Unfortunately, I was pulled away from the demo before the inevitable battle could take place. I can say without reservation that I did not want to put the controller down as an attendant politely ushered me away from the demo station.
I may not have understood a great deal of what was being said during my half hour with Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance, but Platinum Games' signature action definitely spoke my language. With Kojima Productions overseeing the scope of the project – namely the cut-scenes, story and the world itself, producer Yuji Korekado told me – Rising is shaping up to be a fresh, exciting extension to the Metal Gear franchise.