After a lengthy lull, Japanese-flavoured action games are coming back in a big way. We've already had DmC and Anarchy Reigns; now genre master Platinum Games has the floor with its Metal Gear spin-off.
At this point it'd be insulting to expect anything less than expertly-crafted gameplay systems from Platinum, and our recent taster does nothing to change things. Rising feels super-slick, and while the core katana-based gameplay isn't as open ended as Bayonetta's, players have a robust array of ground and aerial attacks, and twinkle-toed protagonist Raiden is able to zip between enemies.
The gimmick is precision cutting. At the press of a button the action slows to a crawl and the camera zooms into an over-the-shoulder view of you surgically slicing cyborg-soldiers into bits. It doesn't fulfil Konami's original ambition of being able to cut anything and everything, but it's hard to begrudge it that when you're ninja-running up a Metal Gear Ray and cleaving away at its armour, or leaping around and rending waves of Gekkos.
Rising takes over-the-top cinematic kills to a delicious extreme, and precision cutting is its sweet cherry on top. It also feeds into a rewarding gameplay loop: Zan-Datsu. To keep Raiden's tanks full he needs the Biotic Paste coursing through the spines of cyborg soldiers. To get at it you'll need to finish a barrage of light and heavy attacks with a careful flick of the sword.
Once revealed, the spine must be snatched out of the air with a timed button press. Allowing it to hit the ground reduces its restorative potency, and killing an enemy without extracting it degrades its quality further.
Rising's main stumbling block is its parry system, which requires you to thrust a light attack towards an enemy the moment Raiden is about to take damage. The problem, naturally, is that it's hard to differentiate this from a standard attack - the directional element requires that you come to a stop before attempting a parry, and staying put is hardly wise when you're surrounded by bazooka troopers and giant stompy robots.
It feels disruptive to the flow of battles and is an uncharacteristically blunt instrument in an otherwise razor sharp set of mechanics. Nevertheless, Rising has the satisfying, balletic combat we're used to from Platinum and, even with the counter woes, shows promise.
By Tamoor Hussain