Maintaining the action we have come to expect from Platinum, while telling a story that is distinctly Metal Gear.
Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance (Xbox360) 2013
I can hardly put words to just how it felt to hear that not only was Kojima productions not outright cancelling Metal Gear Solid Rising, but would also be collaborating with Platinum Games to make it happen. Now, years after the first tease to cut what we will, we get out hands on Raiden in his first solo outing, sporting a rather incredibly over the top cyborg body, and swordsmanship that must make his stealthier buddies wet themselves a little. Does it feel good? No my friends, it feels like a glove. Never in my life would i have chosen the Metal Gear series to take any spin off in the direction of Action, let alone something as fast paced as this, but there is absolutely no denying that Raiden has shown potential for a serious story of his own from the insanely lengthy cutscenes from MGS4, and now its time to give "Jack The Ripper" his chance to shine.
Let me begin by making something clear. While i am a fan of Metal Gear as a whole, my actual invested time in the games has been both scattered across a decade, as well as shared between a lot of watching a little playing, primarily due to my age at the first 2 games releases. I have vivid memories of E3 when Snake Eater was shown off, and how excited it got me sticks with me to this day. That said, I am by no means good at the classic MGS style of stealth, and consider myself quite skilled at action games, particularly those as fast paced and combo driven as this. Considering the shift from scattered lore follower to sudden game reviewer, I must admit I'm glad the jump was made, and look forward to sharing with you just what made Metal Gear Rising such a fun experience for me, and explain what i felt could have been better, but let me get one thing out of the way right now and let you know that this game is plenty good.
The game opens with the usual Metal Gear length cutscene, perhaps a little shorter than most previous in all honestly, likely influenced by the gameplay focused Platinum Games- and gives a very quick explanation for why you are about to fall into the predicament you are falling into, and just what it is that the "Revenengeance" is referring to. Gameplay begins with a slightly dumbed down system, granting players the ability to play what would have likely otherwise been a fully pre rendered cinematic- but feels just as real as the rest of the game. No slow-Mo sword action in the into sequence, but anyone who followed the games development closely enough will get a special treat out of that particular sequence. After intros are over with its onto the main story-line, and they waste no time pushing you right on in, literally. Like promised time and again before. we finally get our hands on the much anticipated cutting mechanics that originally threw the game into limbo, and would later be the reason for its spectacular rise from the ashes. Anyone who grabbed the demo will recall the first part of the level, but rest assured it has plenty more to throw your way this time than before.
The combat is pretty understandable, even if you aren't into hack/slash style gameplay. There is a quick attack, a stronger, slower attack (which can later be replaced with another weapon of choice) as well as the much loved "Blade Mode" the sequence in which you hold down the left trigger (Assuming you have it charged up from basic combat before hand) and use slow motion precision slicing, usually to aim for their much needed life energy located at a specific point in their bodies, though sometimes not accessible until the enemy has been sufficiently weakened by your onslaught. The mechanic is executed with perfection, and rarely if ever goes against what i told it to do. Sometimes feeling a little over-powered, the game does limit it's use in a number of ways to ensure you are still challenged all the way though. The engine is something to be noted to, in my experience never stuttering even when i managed to chop up every piece of the environment that let me do so, usually getting the "parts" counter up near the 4 digit area just to see how much it could handle.
One of the best parts of the game are the boss encounters. Rarely in game now days do you get the same feeling of anticipation based on enemy encounters building up to it, but the folks at Platinum are sort of known for that, and so i guess i shouldn't be surprised, but am delighted to say I love it here as well. Not that you would imagine a variety of enemies, let alone boss-level enemies for a Metal Gear game, at least not that could remain canon, but you will be glad to know that they mix it up often, well, and constantly challenging ways. Each boss encounter is particularly focused on learning their weapon and finding their weaknesses. After defeating any of the "Desperado Elite", you will acquire that members weapon, granted you purchase it at the next available opportunity to do so. These weapons, along with your own "High Frequency Blade" can be upgraded along side your own stats as you progress through the game.
Not every aspect of the game is as perfect as i'd like, however. The levels are rather linear, with the occasional branch off to an item box, but does come off as a bit restrictive for a Metal Gear game. That said, the environments you encounter are very much Metal Gear, and you will feel it no place more than the cut-scenes, often bringing on flash backs to previous installments rather lengthy cinematic events. The variety of enemies you encounter will sadly die down as well, holding onto only a couple enemy types for surprise encounters a little later in the game. The game is incredibly challenging, if not only from the standpoint of Actions VS Stealth (Yeah, you can make it though the majority of this game without raising alert if you choose, but there in lies a challenge!) but also from the fact that the boss fights feel like they are boss fights. Sure, taking on a couple small building sized metal gear is tough, more so when they toss 2-3 your way at once, but I have not been so happily frustrated at a boss sequence since these. Something about the way Platinum does a boss fight, usually based on a multi-phase fight with slightly different attack patterns and sometimes a specific way you have to hit them, resulting in a hell of a good time no matter how many times you hear your colleagues scream "Raiden!" as you are being cut to shreds.
Few games capture action in a fun way, grade well, and offer a seemingly perfect level of difficulty increase going from normal up to hard, but damned if Rising doesnt accomplish it and more with its truly superb sword-play, featuring a parry maneuver that you wont soon stop using, and will feel essential at a few key points of the game. Now, I personally made a small mistake. After finishing the game i went back to watch a particular cutscene online, and happened to decide id watch how THEY beat said boss, well- turns out I wasn't aware there is also a seemingly VERY useful dodge mechanic, activated by pressing jump/attack simultaneously- so I likely took a little longer with some battles than necessary, but must say it took nothing away from my experience not knowing it existed at all, and the game CAN be finished entirely without its use.
The game is relatively short, but not all that surprising from Platinum, who are usually VERY strict about what makes it into the final game and what is cut due to their own standards. That said, the game can be finished in about 4-5 hours. Mind you, that would require skipping every cutscene as well as seriously focusing on forward progression- but play as i did, taking in the impressive story as i go, enjoying the incredibly selection of music for most every major in game sequence, and making sure you at least attempt to find all the unlockables in the area (which are rather limited compared to something like a Devil May Cry), and you wont struggle to enjoy a solid 7-8 hours. As i said before, the game is near perfect when it comes to gauging difficulty-but leaves no real reason to jump immediately back in expecting new content, with one notable exception i wont spoil here.
Overall the game has a pretty standard action formula, but manages to interweave a story both relevant to todays government, sprinking in bits of the metal gear brand of humor along the way-and also shows a near perfect execution of many elements originally only dreamed of in video games, as well as a focus of the elements they know work, rather than over-complicating it. Not to say the combat is in any way simple, though it may seem it on the surface, there is almost always a number of times you need to think on your feet and keep thinking of your next move. That said, the game is short, and after finishing all i could think was how badly i wanted just 2-3 more levels worth of content. Rather or not this is Raidens final solo outing remains to be seen, but I must say the potential is all there for another bloody good time, and considering the often criticized title, id say it was a thought the whole way though.
Metal Gear Rising Revengeance gets a 4/5
Metal Gear Rising Reveneance is a fun, fast paced action game developed by Kojima Productions along with Platinum Games- Game available now worldwide for Xbox360 and PS3 (Sorry PC players, but word is Ground Zeroes is coming your way!)