Two new demos hit the Playstation store recently, and I checked them both out: “Dead Space 3” is the Lost Planet-esque new installment in the on-going series and “Metal Gear Rising: Stupid Subtitle” (I refuse to use the word “Revengeance” more than is absolutely necessary on principle) is a spin off of a series very dear to me; “Metal Gear Solid”. I’ve been largely glossing over new Dead Space 3 information simply because I knew I’d end up getting the game anyway, so it didn’t really matter and I wanted to play the game blind. “Dead Space” was good, but a little sparse compared to the second game, though I enjoyed both. The one problem I’ve had with the games is that they’re just not scary. Despite several claims to the contrary, the games don’t do horror very well- the gore is over the top, the jump scares don’t work and overall I find it works better as an action game with a horror theme.
Anyway, the demo. It’s relatively short and basically follows Isaac Clarke waking up upside down in a space ship wreckage and traversing the new, snowy environment to meet up with his new soldier partner and be faced with a huge necromorph boss, where the demo ends. The first of the two biggest new additions the demo showcases are the weapon crafting system (largely relegated to a room accessed from the main menu; the crafting bench found in the campaign has few resources) which is an interesting novelty but largely doesn’t feel essential, although there’s hope that over the course of the full game it will come into its own and give you more of an edge; I expect it will be most useful at higher difficulties. The second is the cover-based combat against human enemies, which feels pointless, out of place and pretty needless really. The game works best when facing the various undead-alien hybrid monstrosities and blowing bits off them with a high-powered plasma tool originally designed for heavy-duty maintenance work, not shooting humans until they collapse, un-dismembered. There’s also a new dodge-roll move I used once in each direction to see how it looked, and a space suit with fur on it. That’s about it. There’s not a lot I can say- it’s a short demo and the game is largely very similar to the second one, which isn’t a bad thing as long as the new gameplay features are better realised and implemented in the full game, along with the setting, which in the demo is largely underwhelming. Gameplay-wise everything from “Dead Space 2” is still to the same quality, it’s just a shame about the current state of the new additions.
“Metal Gear Solid” as a series focused on stealth gameplay and utterly bizarre characters and plot points. Series leading man “Solid Snake” (based on Kurt Russel in “Escape from New York”) was awesome, and along with his clone-father Big Boss (the protagonist of the prequel “Metal Gear Solid 3”) made Metal Gear Solids 1-4 great games that still hold up today. The second game replaced Snake early on for far less-likable character “Raiden”, though mercifully Snake did return. As for “Metal Gear Rising”, it started off strong. The demo involves whiny-bitch-turned-cyborg-ninja Raiden flying a drone into a war torn country while his tech team handle the exposition, cutting his way through cyborg soldiers and the bipedal, mooing Metal Gears from “Metal Gear Solid 4”. The story shown in the cutscenes has the “Metal Gear Solid” feel, and was genuinely intriguing- Raiden’s bad-ass ninja thing is quite believable and the attempts to move him away from the character seen in “Metal Gear Solid 2” have been largely successful. The gameplay shows promising, but is marred by several things. Firstly, the camera is a real pain. It often lags behind when you move and doesn’t point at what you want it to. It’s not completely broken, but it is irritating. Next up is the lock-on. Apparently there is a manual lock-on, but the button it’s supposedly assigned to was the sprint button for me, so I’m not sure what was happening there. There needs to be a button that just handles lock-on and nothing else, and a dodge button would really not go amiss in a game like this. Make it so you double-tap the sprint button or something, that’d work fine. Worst of all is the parry system, which is awful. To parry you move the left stick forward and press the attack button. Genius. To stop moving forward and attacking, you press the movement stick forward and press the attack button. I got it to work two or three times at random while fighting the demo’s boring boss character, and all other times had to resort to just jumping around instead. It’s quite remarkable that said boss is boring, considering that it’s a mechanical wolf with a genius-intellect A.I and a long tail with a chainsaw on the end. The fight itself is dull and repetitive.
As for the good, the combat system is decent. There are two main attack buttons- a light attack and a heavy attack, and a button that activates “Blade Mode”- basically, as long as you have the bar filled up enough time slows down and the right analogue stick controls a bar that you move around the enemy- choosing where Raiden will cut them. It’s a fun feature- making precision cuts all over an enemy; slicing them to pieces and activating the finishing move where Raiden rips out their glowing, blue, robotic spine and crushes it in his hand, killing them and restoring all of your health. This is awesome- I have no problems with it.
Overall, both demos showcase good and bad. The new additions in “Dead Space 3” are largely underwhelming, as is the new setting, but it still has the solid gameplay of the first two games. “Metal Gear Rising” has a decent plot and fun combat, but a lot of irritations that need to be ironed out before its release.
By James Lambert