Quick Look: Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance

There's lots of arm chopping to do, but first Jeff has to upgrade the firmware on his sword.

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Giant Bomb Review

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Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance Review

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  • PS3
  • X360

The points where the styles of Kojima Productions and PlatinumGames collide make playing Metal Gear Rising a short but enjoyable trip through a post-MGS4 world.

When you see that symbol appear on screen, it's time to cut.

Less talking, more cutting. Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance is an odd split, taking the concepts and a couple of characters from Kojima Productions' Metal Gear franchise and slamming them into a character action game developed by PlatinumGames, the studio that's increasingly known for being one of the best producers of this sort of hack-and-slash, combo-crazy action. The resulting mix is a game that tempers some of KojiPro's penchant for long-winded cutscenes by flooding it full of enemy cyborgs that are just begging for you to cut them into hundreds of tiny bits while also reigning in some of Platinum's wilder narrative tendencies. In short, it's a quick cut through the world of Metal Gear that mentions just enough about the Patriots and the War Economy to let you feel like you're keeping up on the state of post-MGS4 Metal Gear while also filling it full of ridiculous, entertaining combat sequences and, for whatever reason, a whole lot of cursing.

Set four years after the events of Metal Gear Solid 4, Rising is all about Raiden, who had been turned into a cyborg ninja the last time we saw him. These days, Raiden and his robot body are working for Maverick, one of several private military companies that rent out their services to the highest bidder. At the opening of the game, Maverick is overseeing security for an African prime minister that is on the verge of bringing peace to the region. A rival PMC intervenes, Raiden is outmatched, and a personal revenge tale is set into motion. Over seven chapters you'll chase down said rival PMC, deal with Raiden's past as a child soldier, and get yourself caught up in the sort of world-ending, conspiratorial gaga that can only come from a game with Metal Gear written on its box. It's a fun story that practically opens with Raiden dismantling a Metal Gear with his sword, and it just keeps escalating from there, culminating in a final, over-the-top confrontation that manages to meld the sensibilities of both of its development studios almost perfectly.

The combat in Rising isn't the most complex combat that Platinum has produced, but it strikes a rewarding balance between mashing on the attack buttons like a crazy person and using proper skill to to take out your foes more selectively. As you set the difficulty higher and higher, it gets harder and harder to mash your way out of trouble. The fighting starts with a standard two-button, light/heavy system that expands as you unlock additional moves. This gives you access to launchers, leg sweeps, and the ability to parry attacks while you're in the air. Defense is a pretty active system in Rising. Instead of giving you a block button, the only way to deal with incoming attacks is to either get out of the way or parry them with your light attack button and a push in that enemy's direction.

Well-timed parries set enemies up for quick kills via "blade mode," a sort of slow-motion effect that allows you to flick the right analog stick around to cut wildly, slicing dying enemies into hundreds of pieces along the way. Done after a parry or to a weakened enemy, blade mode sets up "zandatsu" kills, which draws a box over a target area on an enemy. Slicing that area gives you access to an enemy's innards, and if you grab said innards before they hit the ground, it'll refill your health and battery reserves. It's... pretty cool. Gruesome, you say? Well, what if I told you that every enemy in the game is a cyborg and that you're technically just cutting apart a lot of robotic limbs and torsos? No? That doesn't make you feel any better? Hmm. Well... it's still pretty cool, even if the process itself gets repetitive over the course of the game. Off of a perfect counter, zandatsu kills are the same basic per-enemy animation every time, so the better you are at playing defense, the more often you'll see the same things over and over again.

As you play, you'll unlock the ability to equip additional weapons, which replace your heavy attack with a pole, magnetic sai, and others. This gives you a bit of extra flexibility. The game also has disposable sub-weapons, like rocket launchers and grenades, but those seem like they're for chumps. You're a ninja-cyborg-guy with an electric sword designed to slice anything and everything into bits. Rockets and grenades just feel cheap and useless by comparison.

Rising looks nice on both the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360, with a solid frame rate during gameplay that occasionally dips when codec sequences load up. The game's flashiest graphical feature is your ability to slice apart a lot of the objects in the environment, from fences that block your path to police cars that are just there for you to cut into tiny pieces. The slicing looks a little corny, especially when you're cutting humanoid enemies up into 200 pieces (the game helpfully keeps track of how many pieces you're creating), but it all comes together to benefit the game's over-the-top sensibilities. There's a batch of nice voice work throughout Rising, but I found Raiden, the main character himself, to sound worse as the game went on. As he runs himself more and more ragged over the course of the campaign, he starts to sound more and more gravelly, but it doesn't sound "tough." It sounds silly.

This guy? Not your friend.

Metal Gear Rising is a short game. My first time through on normal took an afternoon, and that includes watching all of the cutscenes and dying three or four times along the way. The game keeps a clock that tracks your best times through each area and removes cutscene time. So, if you subtract the time I spent seeing the story and replaying parts where I died, it took me a little over four hours of gameplay to get to the end. If you're the type of person who thrives on getting S-ranks in every single combat chapter and wants to play through on all four difficulty settings and unlock every VR mission, you'll find plenty to do. But if you're just here to see the story, it's a little thin. I didn't find it to be criminally short, though, and artificially lengthening the game would make the issue of seeing the same zandatsu kills over and over again far worse. It's about as long as it needs to be to wring everything out of its mechanics. It's enjoyable, with a story that goes in some really wild directions, but don't come to Rising expecting a game that rivals typical Metal Gear Solid games in length. Even if you go out of your way to listen to as many optional codec conversations as you can (you can call a few key members of your support team at any time for a check-in), it might not hold your attention for very long.

Even with that in mind, I found Metal Gear Rising to be a thrilling and engaging experience. The swordplay is fun, and it's really fascinating to see the different spots where either Kojima's or Platinum's signature styles shine through. It also has a wild final confrontation that shows elements of both, doling out some heavy-handed political preaching while also putting a man-sized ninja cyborg up against... well, something way crazier (and dirty-mouthed) than a man-sized ninja cyborg. If you're a value-minded individual that doesn't tend to replay games, Metal Gear Rising will only make you angry. But if seeing the state of the post-MGS4 world while slicing your way through everything that gets in your way sounds like a good time, well, that's because it is.

Jeff Gerstmann on Google+
210 Comments
Posted by iamMigz

Yay!

Posted by adamfedoruk

Metal Gear!?

Posted by Juda

boom!

Posted by vandelay

Cool

Posted by Koolkirby

Excited to play this!

Online
Edited by Eldredpe

That's a star rating I did not expect.

I won't even pretend I already read the review.

That actually sounds pretty cool. Vanquish is on PS+ today, so I think after giving that a round I'll have a better idea of what to expect out of Platinum combat and whether or not I'm into this.

Posted by MarkHawk

Oh wow, wasn't expecting 4 stars. Excited to see how it got there.

Edited by DarkbeatDK

Hack n slash!

@jeff You can stealth-kill into Zandatsu

Posted by FoxMulder

Enjoyed the demo, until the boss battle which was way above my combo based action game skills were at. I'll definately rent it for the MGS story stuff and play it on easy!

Edited by DockJaw

I'm awake and there's new content on the Internet! Thanks GiAN ttttyhjjbO- t a ROBOtttTtt!!t

Posted by Milkman

YEAR OF THE STYLISH ACTION GAME

Online
Posted by Little_Socrates

Hm. Yeah, I'll check this out during the summer, then.

Posted by Trav

Good to see this turned out alright.

Online
Edited by Qblivion

Sounds awesome, as expected from Platinum and KojiPro.

Posted by GS_Dan

Didn't see that coming.

Posted by JAVK

The video compression of the cutscenes in the Xbox 360 version is horrible. If you have the option of owning both platforms, I recommend picking up the PS3 version.

Posted by Solh0und

Nanomachines!

Edited by the_Hollow

So DmC is apparently a much better game and retains title as Giantbomb's GOTY 2013.

Wonder what future holds,probably no one will be able to beat DmC.

Edited by Stonyman65

4/5? Wow. Wasn't expecting that. From everything I've seen up to this point I was expecting a 2, maybe a 3 if you're lucky. I'll read the review and watch the quick look in the morning. It's 3AM on the East Coast now...

Posted by Yummylee

Well alritey then. I figured this would be another review where Jeff would appear to be somewhat hesitant with his praise despite the 4 stars, like his Halo 4 and Borderlands 2 reviews, or Ryan's Assassin's Creeds Revelations/3 reviews. But his writing portrays a lot of enthusiasm so this is a nice surprise!

I'll be curious to see how he weighs this and DmC together on the bombcast sometime.

Posted by illmatic19

I read "Raiden and his robot body" as "Raiden and his robot buddy". I am now sad there is no robot buddy.

Posted by Reisz

Cheers Jeff! looking forward to playing this next week. I'm kind of glad it's as short as it sounds, I fully intend to replay as much as possible to see everything there is, I'm kind of stoked I won't have to spend months doing it. Surprised to hear that a degree of Kojima style story telling survived I thought Platinum's bombast would have quelled that completely. Now to check out that QL. . .

Edited by alecsteazey

This review has me happily anticipating pulling out enemy spines for sustenance.

Posted by famicom601

Thanks for the review Jeff! Really excited to play this.

Edited by UberExplodey

:D!

Posted by kishinfoulux

I really, REALLY hate how the video player is on the right and not centered. Who thought that was a good idea?

Was also hoping for a slightly longer Quick Look as well, but this game doesn't seem to be that long so I guess that's fair.

Posted by kingjulesxii

Sounds like the perfect Redbox! Great to see this go up at midnight on the dot.

Posted by joshthebear

Did not see 4 stars coming. Will check out the QL when I wake up in the morning.

Posted by AzlamOrlandu

I'm busy with kids and work for most of my time. I have zero problem with a game being around 4-5 hours long.

Edited by Deusoma

@kishinfoulux: Well, if you're not watching it fullscreen, you're a crazy person anyway, so the location of the video player isn't that big a deal in the long run. ;-)

Posted by winstano

!

Agree with pretty much everything in the review, the game is a huge amount of fun. As a Metal Gear fan, it's insane nonsense that puts a smile on your face. I didn't go into things like the codec sequences etc, I just barrelled through the story, saving the story stuff for a second playthrough... If you like Platinum's style, and you also like Metal Gear, this game is a no-brainer. Brilliant.

Edited by Patman99

This seems like the perfect game a few months down the road when it's been knocked down a few bucks and there is nothing new coming out.

Edited by PoisonJam7

While I'm glad to see this game isn't a total disaster, I don't think I'll be picking it up as I expected to. Especially after reading about its length. Perhaps the Bombcast can sway me the other way, but it looks like I'll be waiting for the price to go down before trying this. And honestly, the demo didn't really impress me. Oh well, there are plenty of promising titles coming in March!

Posted by LiquidSwords

Just got back from a show and I got work tomorrow! Hell yeah I'm staying up to see some slice and dice!

Posted by Nettacki

I really, REALLY hate how the video player is on the right and not centered. Who thought that was a good idea?

Was also hoping for a slightly longer Quick Look as well, but this game doesn't seem to be that long so I guess that's fair.

there's an Embiggen button somewhere in there that centers and enlarges the player.

Edited by Sooty

I'm having a problem getting excited for any current gen games now that the next batch of consoles are looming.

Last of Us is looking good though.

Posted by Itwastuesday

THIS GAME LOOKS SO FUCKING COOL

Posted by Dallas_Raines

Since Redbox isn't carrying it, I doubt I'll ever play it. It's good to hear that the full game isn't as shitty as that demo, though.

Posted by Blimble

I don't see the length as that much of an issue seeing as these types of games are meant to be replayed on harder difficulties and trying to get better scores. I can see why that doesn't appeal to many people but there are also a load of VR missions to do as well which are whole new missions

I agree with everything else said though

Posted by randombattle

I have to laugh at DmC getting a perfect 5 and this getting a 4.

Posted by JJOR64

Might end up getting it when the price drops.

Posted by Strife777

Wooooo!

Posted by Nottle

Really glad to hear that Jeff liked it. I was the type of guy that played through Vanquish and Bayonetta several times, so the games length probably won't bother me as long as it's consistently good.

Posted by SharpShotApollo

Sounds like a lot of fun. Gonna be checking this out when it's $20-$30.

Posted by Lazyaza

Ahhh not the sort of game I'll play more than once I don't think so will wait till its cheaper. Seems fun though, yay Platinum.

Posted by KainCarver

Dynasty Warriors in 4 hours. Check.

(That comment will piss someone off)

Edited by 137

This will definitely be in my list of metal gear things to buy!

Edited by GetEveryone

Edit: I obviously wrote this before I was properly awake. I know Jeff doesn't mention a lack of dodge...

Just to confirm, the game does have a dodge mechanic.

Pressing jump + light attack offers a 4-directional dodge (depending on which direction the stick is being held).

It can be used to cancel out of virtually any attack, and (for those interested in the depths of the system) the front dodge can be cancelled into blade mode, making for some potentially crazy strings.

Here's a video someone uploaded detailing all this:

Can't wait for the actual release and to see what else people come up with. The system has a lot more flexibility than Jeff gives it credit for (though, I understand in a work environment there probably isn't time to play around with the intricacies of the system).

The parry button also doubles as block. If you press it early Raiden will block the attack and repel the enemy some distance from you. It's fairly reliable, too; useful for those who may struggle to actually get a parry out.

Posted by Cold_Wolven

So glad Jeff enjoyed the game I was worried Rising wouldn't do well but reviewers are loving it.

Posted by kishinfoulux

@nettacki said:

@kishinfoulux said:

I really, REALLY hate how the video player is on the right and not centered. Who thought that was a good idea?

Was also hoping for a slightly longer Quick Look as well, but this game doesn't seem to be that long so I guess that's fair.

there's an Embiggen button somewhere in there that centers and enlarges the player.

Ah thanks. That's just the ticket.