By Mento 2 Comments
One of the rules of nature, or at least my nature, is to mock the overwrought Metal Gear franchise at every opportunity. That's how it was for the following Metal Gear Solid playthroughs, most of which occurred simultaneously with the site's "Metal Gear Scanlon" premium features:
|Mento Gear Solid|
|MGS1: Part One|
|Mento Gear Solid 2: React-Sons of Incredulity|
|MGS2: Part One: Tanker|
|MGS2: Part Two: Plant|
|Mento Gear Solid 3: Snark Eater|
|MGS3: Part One||MGS3: Part Two|
|MGS3: Part Three||MGS3: Part Four|
|MGS3: Part Five||MGS3: Part Six|
|Mento Gear Solid 4: Puns of the Patriots|
|MGS4: Part One||MGS4: Part Two|
|MGS4: Part Three||MGS4: Part Four|
|MGS4: Part Five||MGS4: Part Six|
|MGS4: Part Seven|
|Mento Gear Solid V: The Fandom's Pain|
|MGSV: Part One: Missions 0-2.||MGSV: Part Two: Missions 3-6, 10.|
|MGSV: Part Three: Missions 7-9, 11-12.||MGSV: Part Four: Missions 13-16.|
|MGSV: Part Five: Missions 17-25.||MGSV: Part Six: Missions 26-31.|
|MGSV: Part Seven: Missions 32-40.||MGSV: Part Eight: Missions 41-47, 49.|
However, it's time to expand that purview to the franchise's highest-rated spin-off. That's right, it's time to see what Metal Gear Survive is all about. Can I reconstruct Mother Base to its former glory in this harsh new dimension? Will the crystal face zombies jump me before I can find enough wooden planks for this sweet new deck I'm building? Will the game's constant, desperate panhandling for microtransactions eventually break through my parsimonious defenses? Am I really expecting to get away with the goof that I'm covering Metal Gear Survive when the title of the blog and the image to the left clearly insinuate Metal Gear Rising? All those questions and more will be answered in this, the newest entry in the "Mento Gear" observations blog series.
OK, so let's talk about Metal Gear Rising: Revengeanceful. First released in 2013 for the PS3 and Xbox 360, eventually moving to Steam and Android devices (oh, I get it (cyborgs)), it's set in the far-flung year of 2018 (!), around four years after Metal Gear Solid 4 - the last of the MGS games chronologically-speaking - and once again features perennial dork Jack "Raiden" NoLastName as the protagonist. When we last saw Raiden in MGS4, he'd transformed himself into a very breakable robot ninja with a "high-frequency blade" (doesn't that just mean there's a lot of them?) to better fight a magical vampire man, who'd managed to escape his grasp a few years prior when he was forced to battle a former president with octopus arms while an AI patiently explained memes to him for two hours. (It's weird how I haven't forgotten any of these plot details; maybe Dan Ryckert was right about Kojima's brilliance as a writer of serious and logically consistent espionage dramas?)
Beyond that, I only know bits and pieces about Metal Gear Rising. I know there's nanomachines involved, because that's always a given in Metal Gear. I know PlatinumGames is behind it, and that it features more of their high-speed, high-skill character action gameplay that I didn't previously care for but have come to terms with after Nier: Automata. There's a handful of known plot details too - I'll be bringing back the SMAKA (tuff ento lready new bout) alerts - but most of it will be a surprise. Hopefully a pleasant one.
Part R-0: Urge to Kill Rising, Rising
- As seems prudent for a game I don't think I'll be any good at, I took a look at the tutorial. It's surprisingly short, only covering two significant features - the Ninja Run, which lets you move over uneven terrain quickly like a "I don't want to do platforming, I just want to slash things" button, and the Parry, which requires a forward strike when an enemy attack is incoming and allows you to shred your opponents to ribbons while they're off-balance. So far, so good.
- We also meet "Doktor" here, sorta, as the NPC who guides us through the tutorial. He looks like a PS1 character. Very pointy.
- After which, we're into the prologue. Looks like Raiden's PMC has been hired to keep an eye on the Prime Minister of some African nation who is marvelling at how peaceful his country has become. A besuited Raiden tells the PM that the best way to defend the peace is by killing, which he learned from studying the samurai code, and to his credit the PM responds with an incredibly generous "a warrior and a philosopher!"
- Seriously, imagine telling some Nelson Mandela figure that if he'd only chosen to beat more people up he could've solved Apartheid before breakfast. Good to see Daimyo Dorkayama hasn't changed. Wait, I got another one: "Sun Tz-tupid".
- The half-robotic PMCs are held up by a guy in the road with a ponytail and a red sword. Why don't we make this the first SMAKA, because who hasn't heard of Jetstream Sam? I hope he got that nickname for being the #1 jacuzzi seller at Honest Mike's Hot Tub Emporium.
- Anyway, this begins a large scale assault on the PM's convoy, and Raiden is forced to take up his floaty blue magnet sword on loan from Mega Man X and start chopping fools. Because this is the prologue (and because it's Metal Gear), there's like thirty seconds of action before another cutscene happens.
- Now we have a bald guy who looks like the dad of MGS2's Fatman snatch the PM from his limo while complaining about running out of wars to fight. Just take up a hobby like macrame or writing about video games, my dude. He flies off and leaves us with our old friend Metal Gear RAY to contend with.
- I seem to remember these guys being a lot tougher. I guess it's a none-too-subtle way of Rising telling us that "the game done changed, son". Raiden chops it to pieces, though not without getting whacked by its tail a lot. Hey, a Rank D, I'll take it.
- More ninja-running later and the RAY's back for seconds. What follows is another boss fight and then what I feel will be a recurring dynamic with the game: it suddenly becomes this amazing cinematic sequence where Raiden is jumping along missiles or running down a tower or what have you, and the sheer spectacle of it is enough to distract and disorient me from whatever the immediate danger is, leading to several consecutive game overs. Kind of dulls the majesty, as it were.
- After that, I catch a train, watch a murder, get taken to kendo school by Jetstream Sam, lose an eye and an arm (though Raiden's used to getting dismembered by swarthy bearded dudes with silly accents), and have to be rescued by Russian Mike Haggar in a giant turtleneck with a Stinger RPG. Could've used that for the RAY fight, Mayor Comrade.
- That's it for the prologue. You lost today kid, but that doesn't mean you have to like it.
- Some thoughts about the game so far: I'm loving all the big goofy grins from the bad guys, like they're well aware of how villainous they appear and are just yukking it up. I have no idea who any of these Codec people are, but their chatter is incessant. I think it controls well, but some elements - like the camera - feel way too sensitive at their default level. Still, it's easy to remember "run" and "slash" and "slash harder" for the time being.
Part R-1: While You Were At Your Puppy Parties, I Was Studying the Blade Wolf
- We're now in Abkhazia (which is a real place) to stop a military junta, with rumors that the guys that attacked us in the prologue are supporting the coup here too. Raiden's got a whole new look and some kind of crooked cyber-bandage where his left eye was. It sort of looks like if Geordi La Forge tried to put his eye-headband on while drunk and missed.
- Now that I have access to the Codec, I figured I should introduce myself to everyone. Boris is the aforementioned Mike Haggar lookalike and the commander of Maverick, the PMC Raiden works for. Kev is the tech and logistics guy, if I ever needed a heads up on what to do next. Courtney is the new "save girl," that auspicious role previously taken by Mei Ling and Rose oh so long ago. Then there's Doktor, who lets me know how the tech in my body works. Glad to see Platinum kept up with a few MGS traditions. Watch, as I regularly forget to talk to these guys for the rest of the game.
- I gotta say, we're entering that familiar early MGS game territory where I suck balls at it and keep dying. I'm getting used to the idea of chopping up guys where their square icons are for the sweet, sweet spine juice I need to keep myself in the fight, but taking on those quacking robot Gekko things with the legs that don't quit is always a pain. The game teaches you to use the parry as your chief means of defense and offense alike, and then starts throwing enemies with unblockable (and thus un-parry-able) attacks at you? Dick move. Hopefully this all starts to feel natural soon, because I'm having a real bad time.
- The Blade Wolf boss fight was a baptism of fire. Fire and chainsaws. I'm still not used to fighting Gekkos, but I did realize that you can parry those big kicks if you're accurate enough with the timing. Something else I realized which was super helpful but the game never tells you about (directly) is locking-on to enemies with R2, which makes it way easier to parry them. Another thing: this game has a MGS-style ration equivalent, which I believe is some kind of Robocop babyfood paste that works the same as they always have by being used up automatically whenever you hit 0% life as long as you remember to equip them. This was all good to know, and I'm starting to feel like I'm not clowning my way through the combat any more.
- The rest of the stage is a mix of battles, QTEs and "stealth-preferred" sequences. The latter in particular is true when there are civilians in need of rescuing. I've taken out a helicopter that blew up a bridge - it's unmanned, like many of the non-humanoid foes so far - and some flying jerks that were hard to hit. There's also an infra-red laser section that requires your "AR" vision, a visual filter mode that also helpfully points out chests and items in the vicinity.
- The area culminates in a battle with Mistral, one of four sub-bosses with windy names and a half-decent Sombra cosplayer (it's set in 2018, so I guess Overwatch cosplay's still a big deal). I wager we're going with the wind theme because wind (Fujin) goes with lightning (Raiden)? Real subtle work, writers. I instead choose to believe it's because all their cyborg parts made them really gassy.
- The Mistral fight was a slobberknocker, largely because I still don't know what I'm doing. The weird little adds that look like bowling balls with arms kept dropping healing items, so I was able to stay alive and defeat the boss handily enough on my first try, but I'm really going to have to get better at knowing when to go into blade mode and when to conserve the energy it uses up.
- The fight ends with Mistral freezing in place due to a ruptured liquid nitrogen tank. One Simon Phoenix'd mademoiselle later and I'm ready to chase after the main Russian guy I was here to capture. Except he decides to blow himself up instead. Mission success?
Part R-2: La Historia de Acero Pendejo
- After that straightforward first mission, I was starting to worry this game wasn't stupid enough to hang with the other Metal Gears (even taking into account that the last boss fought us with a whip/spear made of arms). Lo and behold, mission two starts with Raiden in a mariachi outfit making bone puns with Blade Wolf, who has now become his sassy robo-canine sidekick. Such a relief.
- I want to be clear here: Blade Wolf blew up when I defeated him. There was nothing left. Where did this one come from? Was there another Blade Wolf lying around? I guess electric wolves are like the batteries that power them: they always come in packs.
- Anyway, we're in Guadalajara City, which I once thought was a Final Fantasy X location but is actually Mexico's second largest population center. There's some kind of secret cyborg lab in the sewers, so we're heading there to investigate.
- A little ways in after fighting some ape-bots and more of those creepy hand balls, we save some little Mexican kid who starts singing "Go Ninja Go" when he sees us. All right, first off, what sort of international cultural cachet does Vanilla Ice still enjoy with the under-12s in 2018? And why wouldn't George be as scared of a sudden cyborg with a sword as he is of the other robots? I get that not everyone has Otacon's instinct to fear-tinkle at the first sight of cyberninjas, but there has to be a happy medium between urine puddles and the soundtrack to Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret of the Ooze.
- Oops, a little Guyanese kid, my mistake. George. An escapee from the lab we're looking for, which is helpful. After a slightly intense conversation (Raiden doesn't handle kids well) we have a better idea of what we should be doing. I'm glad, because running through absurdly spacious sewers all day wasn't really what I signed up for.
- Oh here we go. A cardboard box. I knew we wouldn't be staying away from packaging materials forever. Because it's the future, this particular cardboard box is shielded from thermal sensors and infrared vision. Does it have wifi too?
- Ah, this takes me back. We have a sequence where we control one of the Dwarf Gekko (or Tripods - the game doesn't settle on a single name) and explore a small part of the lab from its pint-size perspective. Reminded me of controlling the Metal Gear Mk. II in MGS4. For all of Rising's high-octane spectacle, it sure does take the time to venerate its source material, which I guess was true of Automata also.
- We get a hint as to our chief antagonist with some blurry cyborg cam footage. Sundowner (the bald guy, who has definitely provided some downers so far) works for a bookish guy in a suit. So yeah, that's another SMAKA. I already know who our Senator friend is. Damn memes.
- Oof, that Transformer boss really did a number on me. The lock-on kept targeting the legs, but they seemed to be immune to damage and it kept skating around and using its ranged weapons to wear me down whenever I tried to get close enough. I managed to chip away at its core sufficiently to get the insta-kill move, but it burned through at least three cyber-rations. I'm going to have to fight smarter, or at least rely on stealthy sucker punches more.
- Mission 2 ended with a... well, a Mexican stand-off, as the lead scientist took our little friend George hostage just as we were about to free the rest of the captured kids (who were being turned into cyborgs, if I forgot to mention that). With time being of the essence as the kids were slowly gassed to death by chloroform, Raiden successfully convinced George to risk his own life so that he could cut the scientist in half, holding a cool post-evisceration pose for several seconds as children suffocated behind him. Goddammit, Raiden.
Part R-3: It's Like Rain, On Your Shredding Day
- Mission 3 starts on the freeway. Dunno if I'll ever get used to seeing Raiden driving an affordable car. Surely he can just run most places? At any rate, he gets chased by the fuzz just as we learn that he quit Maverick so he can illegally take down Senator Armstrong's "World Marshal" PMC and stop them from chopping up kids and putting their brains in robots. It's like some R-rated Dr. Robotnik plot.
- Also, I particularly liked that the cop in the other car yelled "pull over!" while simultaneously firing his gun at Raiden. You'd think one or the other would be sufficient to get your point across.
- So I'm guessing I'm in Denver to infiltrate World Marshal HQ. We were told last mission that Denver's police force is entirely privately owned by the PMC in question, so they know what I'm up to and are actively seeking my head right now.
- Oh jeez, two more of those Transformers that turn into tanks (which one did that? Brawl?). Oddly, these two were a lot easier. I suspect it isn't because I've suddenly become better at the game in the twenty minutes since the last one. Frankly, it's the big guys with the daikatanas that are giving me issues right now. Issues with my tissues, and the severing thereof.
- I'm on the rooftops now (shades of PS2 Shinobi) and there's... not really a whole lot to remark upon. Met some guys with hammers? They were new. This part of the game's been kinda business-like so far, nothing like the absurd pageantry happening every five minutes during the prologue. That said, I feel like I'm 80% there in terms of having the game's mechanics down pat, so I can't say I'm not enjoying these relatively quieter stretches.
- I even figured out the deal with those big cyborgs: just slash them a lot. I was getting way too tactically-minded aiming for those spine-sucking zandatsus that I forgot about spamming the attack buttons: the reliable strategy that got me through those early fights.
- Kind of a neat sequence where I'm underground in pitch darkness. There's always the AR mode for seeing in the dark, but there's a trophy incentive to leave it off. I've met enough lanternless rooms in the A Link to the Past randomizer to feel my way through, no worries.
- "I understand your attempts at humor. I simply do not find them entertaining." Damn, Blade Wolf. Way to pre-empt the comments section for this blog.
- As we head closer to World Marshal HQ, Jetstream Sam digitally drops by to mock our flawed sense of morality. We're saving the kids but bisecting adults by the dozens, and suddenly Raiden can hear their thoughts as they opine about what they were forced into and what they lost along the way. Like I'm forcing them to hit me with stun rods, good lord.
- Despite a pep talk from Blade Wolf, and the revelation that Sam wasn't always a dickbag, we move into one of the least fortunate sequences so far. Raiden is - for real - too emotionally fraught to fight anymore, so we have a genuine stealth sequence where I have to avoid all the low-level grunts I've been effortlessly dicing so far. Too emotional to fight? What is this, Final Fantasy VIII?
- Eventually, I get caught in a melee and can't (or won't?) defend myself, and this leaves me at the mercy of Monsoon - the next windy jerk - and his proselytizing about the weak falling to the strong and how all religion is bunk and memes rule everything around us and yadda yadda yadda. I forgot how much these MGS bosses like to talk.
- Raiden's gone bye bye after the whole mental breakdown from guilt business, so now Jack the Ripper has come out to play. Our edge quotient just went up 300%.
- The Monsoon boss fight is an interesting one, though I can't say I enjoyed it too much. We're falling into a Bayonetta pattern where every aspect of the presentation - the nu-metal music, the rapid pacing of the cutscenes, the whole "Jack now has infinite stamina because he's really PO'd" aspect of this fight in particular - is counter to the fact that it's still a typical boss fight with patterns to studiously memorize and entire stretches where you're meant to avoid some big enemy attack until they've calmed down and become vulnerable again. I'm glad they kept throwing healing items at you, because I think I went through 10 rations getting pounded by his giant balls (phrasing) or the parts where he glowed purple and was immune to harm because I was too caught up in the atmosphere. Might've been a smart idea to toss an EM grenade when he was purple actually, since I was getting lots of those too... well, hindsight's 50/50. So is Monsoon for that matter, given that I chopped him in half. (Or tiny tiny pieces, even.)
- "Your memes... end here." Yeah, I wish.
- So let's talk about collectibles before we wrap this up. There's a lot of them, from VR terminals to data packages to the left arms of certain enemies (those are the worst), and until that underground sequence I was fairly thorough about grabbing them all. Now I have the choice between replaying the level to get those I missed down there because I was too fixated on the trophy, or just moving on with my life. Hmm...
Well, that's going to do it for Part One. I'm hoping to get this done in two updates, with my rundown of the final four missions arriving in a couple of weeks from now in the alternative Tuesday slot.
As for the game, I'm mostly liking it so far. I'm still not a big fan of the character action genre, and specifically the way Platinum makes them, from the constant negative feedback about your so-so "C-grade" performances to how it has this Sonic the Hedgehog problem where everything about its presentation is screaming at you to go fast and wild but simultaneously penalizes you with how inaccurate your motion is when sprinting around with the ninja run. Likewise, as with the Monsoon fight, the way the game presents its major battles makes you want to go all out, only for it to rein you back in and insist upon cautious gameplay to actually succeed (or at least do so efficiently and without wasting all your healing items).
Story-wise, Raiden was and always will be a wiener and turning him into an invincible cyborg ninja with anger management issues and a rad, rad, robodog hasn't helped. He feels like the result of an exquisite corpse game played by Todd McFarlane, Rob Liefeld and Jim Lee after they were all magically transformed into 14-year-olds by a genie's curse. The story's competently told and if I ever remembered to talk to any of my Codec guys I'm sure I'd find something to like about them, but as with MGSV I'm here more for the gameplay than the story so far. Still, moments of levity like the mariachi costume or Sam mugging for the camera are worth sticking around for.
I'm going to see this through to the end, because I can't really start a two-part series without doing so, but it's not something that's grabbing me too much overall. I am looking forward to watching Drew play it after I'm done, though; it's one of the few remaining video series left on the site that's been sitting in my bookmark folder forever.