Metal Gear Rising: Blade Wolf
Raiden’s sword-wielding, ‘zan-datsu’ performing antics have certainly impressed, carving out a new mythology that runs alongside that of the Metal Gear Solid series. MGR is all about expanding rather than replacing, building on the lore that Hideo Kojima and his team spent years developing. What might surprise you however, is that while the first piece of downloadable content for Rising focused on the exploits of Jetstream Sam, this latest (and presumably last) offering has you seizing control of something altogether different, indeed less than human. His name is LQ-84i… these days better known as Blade Wolf.
If you loved Metal Gear Rising enough to consider diving in once again, then the next thing to decide is whether or not you find an hour of gameplay substantial. Like Jetstream, Blade Wolf is given no fresh areas to explore, being tasked instead by Mistral to stalk through remixed (or lazily reversed) regions that you’ll have already sliced your way through as Raiden. Around a third of this story takes place in the VR simulator, but at least they’re not nearly as yellow as the optional VR missions themselves, which can be found scattered about the main regions if you take the time to explore.
What you’re getting is a prequel chapter that delves just that little bit deeper into the relationship between Wolf and Mistral – the red-haired, multi-armed vixen of the Desperado team. Themes such as Wolf’s struggle with human concepts as well as his obvious desire to attain his own kind of freedom are explored, which actually makes some of his actions in the main campaign easier to digest. There aren’t too many cutscenes, but at least the download tries harder to engage than Jetstream did a month or so back. You’ll get a sense that it’s an area that was genuinely worth exploring and if anything, it may have served as a successful experiment should Platinum Games decide to make him a playable character in a sequel.
There’s no escaping the K-9 unit’s lack of strength (not that you’d have known it during his boss encounter in the main storyline), as three hits are enough to put him down on the normal difficulty mode. Stealth is an absolute must, as was clearly the intention if the grading after each location is anything to go by. It’s not a mechanic that’s especially fleshed out, but it’s functional enough that it can be used to thin the herd before all-out war ensues. The game expects you to have played and completed Metal Gear Rising, demanding a good degree of skill on anything other than easy mode. There’s no tinkering with Blade Wolf himself, though points earned can be used to upgrade Raiden in the main game.
Stealing power cells from cybernetic spines must be par for the course for high-level cyborgs of the near future, as it’s a trend that continues for both Sam and Wolf. Chainsawing enemies to pieces is great fun, if not quite as satisfying as it was with a high-frequency blade. Throwing knives and grenades boost the suitably basic arsenal, which you’ll want to use on occasion when the going gets tough. You might experience occasional stutters during these moments, but it’s never intrusive enough to become a major issue. The reused environments are among the most visually pleasing from the campaign, plus a new foe makes for a unique and thoroughly enjoyable boss battle.
Blade Wolf has tried its hand at something different, encouraging stealthy kills over the usual full-frontal assault. Still, by clocking in at around an hour on a first playthrough it’s anything but a must-own, even if the approximate five pound/seven dollar price seems right for the work that’s been put in. The length won’t win over the more casual players, but for those who still can’t get enough of Metal Gear Rising, Blade Wolf serves as a welcome slice of cyber-dog action.
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