Mr Lightning Bolt, I'm ready for my close-up.
Metal Gear has been an important part of the video game industry for a long time. It debuted in 1987 on the MSX2 with the very first Metal Gear. Though it is fair to say that the series did not find its strive until 1998 with the debut of Metal Gear Solid. It reinvented the stealth action genre and how we look upon storytelling in video games. That was then, today Metal Gear has evolved into something almost absurd. It has a massive following and I do mean massive. Which makes the fact that Metal Gear Rising has been cautiously anticipated for the past few years all the more understanding. See Metal Gear fans have always held their series in high regard, and with every right to do so. Rising is something completely new. For one it doesn't star or even feature series long known protagonist Solid Snake but instead Raiden. The whimp we all came to hate in Metal Gear Solid 2. How crazy isn't that? Metal Gear Solid 2, regardless of quality, was one of the most disappointing game experiences ever. Not only was the game in development for a long time and anticipation huge but Snake was nowhere to be found. Instead we got this girly looking guy that said a lot of dumb stuff. Its understandable that people were pissed. This contrast makes it all the more peculiar that we today have Rising.
If we however stop and rewind time a bit, back to 1998 and the original Metal Gear Solid. Remember Gray Fox? Most people will probably agree that no matter how great that game was, the urge to play as that bad ass cyborg ninja has lingered on since we first laid eyes on him. While we don't have Gray Fox in this we have the closest thing we can probably get in the Metal Gear universe, even if it is a bit whinier. My point is that the people that are so against the concept of Rising should rest easy, in the end its not like it takes anything away from the main series. We do almost guaranteed have another Metal Gear Solid game coming. Rising have not affected that one in the least.
With that out of the way lets move onto the game in question shall we. Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance takes place four years after the events of Metal Gear Solid 4. Raiden is now working to protect the weak, or so he says. Things go wrong and you are flung into a tale of just absolute madness. Honestly there isn't much more to say for the story in the game. Its crazy and ridiculous but just tons of fun. I find this change from the Solid games to be a welcome one. See I always had trouble with that other series. It always had a lot of silly things, but it also had a very serious undertone in a lot of it. I found the contrast too stark to really interst me. We get thrown from a dramatic life and death struggle by a major character to a back and forth marriage proposal in the middle of a gunfight. I assure those that haven't experienced it that I can only describe a fraction of how jarring it is. Many people do love the series for this though but for me it never clicked. Rising throws all these more serious themes completely out the window, well mostly at least. There is still some of it that will make most people cringe. That is not the point however, most of it is absolute batshit crazy and I can't help but love it. For me this is what the Metal Gear series should be, but for now I have to accept a spinoff as enough.
Metal Gear Rising is by all acounts an action game. It tries to shoehorn in some stealth elements but for me these are completely out of place. Which doesn't matter much since it can be completely ignored. Throughout the entire game I never bothered with it and played it like one would Devil May Cry for example. That is fine cause its exactly there the focus lies. The game is made by PlatinumGames of Bayonetta, Anarchy Reigns and Vanquish fame. Which for me is the perfect fit. Action in Rising is fast and frantic. It looks great in motion and most importantly its a lot of fun. Gameplay mainly revolves around Raiden and his sword, while there are some other weapons that are fun the sword is the main show. Like many other hack and slash titles you can mix between light and heavy attacks to string together long comboes to deal out death to anyone that dares approach you. The game has an incredibly way to make you feel badass. By the center of this is the Ninja Run. Just hold down the R1 button and Raiden sets off on a sprint that will automatically vault him over obstacles and generally just where you want to go. The other major feature that makes Rising stand out from your average hack and slash is the Blade Mode. By holding the R2 button time slows to a crawl around you and Raiden enters a mode solely for slicing up anything that is unlucky enough to be caught infront of you. If the enemies are weakned a red square gets highlighted inside their hitbox, slicing through this will make their spinelooking energy compartment burst into the air. You are then one simple button press away from absoring it, regaining health and energy that is drained in Blade Mode.
Once you master both the Blade Mode and the Ninja Run you will feel incredibly powerful. You run from enemy to enemy launching them into the air the cutting them into literally dozens of pieces. I want to emphasis the master part cause Rising is certainly a easy game to get but playing it well is certainly anything but. The game has a dodge mechanic but it is unlockable and rather slow. The main form of defense in Rising is the parry mechanic. Attacks that you can parry make the screen flash red when imminent. A simple flick of the stick in the right direction and a click of the attack button makes Raiden parry. I have seen some people complain about the parry mechanic and the lack of a proper dodge. For me however I think this is what truly sets Rising apart from other hack and slash. I ask you to think about all the hack and slash games that have a dodge mechanic. Or rather all the ones that do NOT. These are indeed very few. As far as I see it PlatinumGames wanted something defensive that was different from other hack and slash games. While there certainly are games that have parries I have never seen one that makes you have to rely upon it as much as Rising does. You are going to have to learn to parry attacks to survive, its that simple. There is certainly a learning curve to Risings gameplay so if you are used to just getting right into games like most these days you should be prepared to think again when it comes to Rising. I certainly think this is a huge plus as it offers more depth that way. Rising certainly has depth. Anyone that consider themselves hack and slash experts should definitely try out the Revengeance difficulty here which is sure to challenge.
Now for some of the negatives. While I generally think Rising is an excellent first entry into a new series there certainly are some issues. For one the envoirments might feel a bit desolate and uninspired. They do not offer much in terms of color and can honestly feel pretty bland. Personally it didn't bother me as the action is so good but it deserves mention. The camera will also give you trouble ever now and then. Most of the time it works well but sometimes it just does some strange things. Strange how almost every hack and slash has more or less problematic camera. The music is another lowpoint for me. Some people have said it fit the mood well but I honestly just disliked most of it. Apart from one song during the mistral bossfight the rest just stuck out like a sore thumb to me. I get what they tried to do, it just doesn't do anything for me. I found myself muting and turning on the Anarchy Reigns soundtrack for my other playthroughs.
In conclussion Rising is an awesome game. It might be a bit short for some, clocking in at around 6-7 hours on a normal runthrough. This is also a misconception I want to adress. Many people have commented on the game sayings its four hours long. That is not true. The game shows you the time by the end of the game, and this timer only counts your very best time on each level. It does not take into consideration your deaths and restarts nor does it count cutscenes. Therefor this timer will seem a lot shorter than it actually is. The game also has a lot of unlockables and twenty VR missions to test your skill in. I certainly would never regret my purchase in terms of value to the dollar. Very rarely is action so stylish and outright cool as in Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance. You don't even have to be a Metal Gear fan to enjoy it. Anyone that has any interest in action games, hack and slash or Metal Gear should give Rising a shot. There are few games quite like it.