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Most Metal Gear games often set the video game scene on fire. Speculation on story, revolutionary gameplay ideas, boundary pushing graphics. Each game in the series sets itself as a milestone in video game design and does so with enough skill to laugh in the face of simple-minded conventions.

However, the latest game in the series, Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance, might have taken things a bit too far from the norm for most fans. The biggest oddity looming over it has many questioning its legitimacy to the series, wondering if its nothing more than a simple knock off or a surprise hit deserving of its impressive title. This is an action title in a genre built upon stealth.

How does the first game in the series developed outside of Konami hold up? How do you make a hack n’ slash out of Metal Gear? Why does Raiden have to be in it? Will hours of cutscenes and codec conversations destroy the pacing? How could the ending of Metal Gear Solid 4 really escalate any further?

The demo found in Konami’s Zone of the Enders HD Collection provides a few answers for those who are still on the fence. Platinum Games no doubt wants to put these worries to bed and get the game in the hands of gamers for themselves to try. Free demos are the norm these days, so some might not feel like coughing up $39.99 for two games they have no interest for the chance to play the latest Metal Gear game early. However, both Zone of the Enders games are worth the cheap entry fee, so no harm no foul. On the way to the demo, you’re getting two wonderful games you might have missed out on in the meantime.

The demo starts off with a simple VR training mission, and it’s a good idea to get a little practice here first. The game’s core mechanic, “Blade Mode,” takes a little getting used to, especially the precision swipes controlled by a complicated combination of both analog sticks. Trust me when I say you’ll be using this much more later in the demo. When you’re low on health, the only way to recharge yourself is to accurately slice through an enemy cyborg and drain the fluid from his spine.

Combat is as self-explanatory as they come, otherwise. Standard attacks and heavy attacks can be combined for lengthy combos. Pressing circle allows for stealth kills. Raiden also has the ability to lock on to an enemy and parry his attacks with some strict timing.

Once the training ends, the demo begins on a lengthy cutscene with typical Kojima storytelling. Colorful characters bicker about international crises all over the planet, and almost immediately, the conspiracy nonsense Kojima is famous for begins. Luckily, the cutscene is not overly long or daunting, and the subsequent codec conversations are short enough to keep the pace moving.

This is not Metal Gear Solid 4 where you have to wait nearly an hour before firing the first bullet, so don’t worry about being crushed under endless chatter.

The actual demo has Raiden plowing through five fights, each more difficult than the one before. As with most Metal Gear games, the mechanics require a little work to fully grasp. This is not a gimme gimme hack ‘n slash game like God of War, where combos and strategies are spelled out right in front of you. Platinum Games has never been one to hold their fans’ hands, so don’t expect them to here. You’ll have to figure out the best way to take down these dudes on your own, mostly through trial and error.

Once you get it right, though, you’ll feel like a total boss making human dismemberment look so gorgeous.

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After a few fights with soldiers and giant bipedal robots, Raiden encounters a strange dog looking robot with a chainsaw on his tail. A brief cutscene of Kojima’s nonsensical cyber philosophies later, and Raiden has to take down the miserable mechanical beast., and boom, it’s the end of the quick demo.

It works for the most part. Don’t expect the full blown environmental interactivity or equipment depth of a typical Metal Gear Solid game. This is a straight forward action game at heart, and unless Kojima and Platinum Games are holding a lot back, that’s all it really has to offer. Not bad by any means, Platinum Games are the king of the hill when it comes to the genre, but there seems to be a lot missing from what sets Metal Gear apart from the crowd.

Secondary weapons are awkwardly tacked on and change the pace of combat. Levels are linear with not much exploration or deviance from the main path. Stealth kills are beyond easy to pull off. The highly anticipated “cut through anything” doesn’t have much practical use besides destroying a few pillars here and there.

This is a game which will revolve totally around its combat, and it pulls that of well enough to make this demo at least be worth a glance. I doubt the first fifteen minutes of gameplay don’t even come close to revealing everything this title has to offer, so expect a lot more than just fighting in the final product.

Just remember, this is a side story, a fun little action game Kojima wanted to make since he obviously needed a break from the whole stealth thing and a nice little bridge between Metal Gear Solid 4 and whatever he has planned for the next two upcoming games. Keep that in mind and enjoy it for what it is when it gets released next February.