written by Justin Prince (@prince_justin)
It’s a game that almost didn’t happen, personally I’m thankful that Kojima wasn’t too prideful to elicit help outside of Konami/Kojima Productions. With that said! Here is our review of Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance. I have hotly anticipated this game ever since it was first announced, though to be honest I was super hesitant at first. I’m a fan of the Metal Gear Solid series, and despite criticisms that span from the lengthy cutscenes to the mind-fucking-ly confusing stories, I’ve always stayed a fan. Though my initial opinion of Raiden was marred with lots of negativity, though with the way he was introduced in Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty can you blame me? But I digress, Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots painted this often hated hero in a whole new bad ass light, primarily having him go from “cartwheeling” Snake clone to a nimble cybernetic ninja bad ass!
Taking place some time after MGS4, technology for cyborg soldiers runs rampant in the post-Patriots era. Various PMCs utilize the technology in the pursuit of the all mighty dollar. Raiden, along with his colleagues, form the PMC “Maverick” and in the opening scenes of the game, are tasked with the duty of protecting an African Prime Minister. Of course everything goes to shit when a rogue PMC involved with terrorism called “Desperado” decides to kill the man they are tasked with protecting… and of course cutting up our cyborg hero in the process.
This, of course in true Metal Gear fashion, is just the tip of the iceberg. From harvesting brain stems from vagrant children to a politically fueled evil plot, everything quickly ramps up from the get go. Raiden receives support from his Maverick team throughout the game, while none were nearly as memorable as say Otacon or Naomi (from Solid Snake’s sneaking days), the cast was memorable and varied. What really caught my attention was the struggle Raiden faced as he cut across his opposition, his inner battle to retain his humanity versus going balls out like the “Jack the Ripper” he was before is an interesting plot device for this clearly psychologically broken hero. His sense of justice is unfaltering and like a good hero he’ll stand against injustice with a firm sense of right and wrong. Of course in the world of politics and cybernetic espionage, it’s never that simple, but it was nice to not see our hero not stray too far from his moral code.
While the story lacked that grand scope of Metal Gear games that came before, it was satisfying (though short). While the success of this game and the positive reception has pretty much guaranteed a sequel (perhaps on the next gen I’m assuming) the ending was satisfying and it did not feel like it was forcing/teasing the possibility of a sequel.
Gorgeous game! If there is one thing that Kojima Productions does well, it’s create beautiful looking games. Pop in MGS4 and you’ll see how beautifully the game looks today, I just played it again recently and it still looks gorgeous. MGR is no exception, with eye popping visuals from in game sequences to cutscenes, it was a treat for the eyes and ears. Oh, speaking of ears, the choice in music and some very distinctly “Metal Gear” sound effects make for a game that can stand apart from the Metal Gear series while firmly being a worthy chapter to this epic gaming franchise.
Levels are designed fairly linear, though this isn’t really a problem since due to the fast paced nature of the game I never really explored much. While it does make an attempt to allow you to be a little bit sneaky (and a few sequences actually make use of it) the majority of the game is ramped up swordplay. Enemy types aren’t too varied, some fly, some shoot, some try to cut you, overall it isn’t too difficult to mow down battalions of cyborg soldiers.
Clearly departing from the “sneaking” missions of Metal Gear past. MGR employs a few new abilities to supplement an action oriented approach to Metal Gear. Raiden is equipped with the ability to “Ninja Dash/Run” which allows him to move quicker, run faster, and automatically climb certain climbable areas in the level. The flashiest feature is the “free cutting” mode and “Zandatsu” (lit. cut and take). Free blade mode allows you to slow down time and use the right analog stick to precisely cut where you want. Virtually everything in the game from boxes to vehicles can be sliced and diced into tiny little pieces. Zandatsu allows Raiden to replenish his health and energy meter by taking from his enemies. Achieved by either whittling an enemy down with regular combos or catching enemies off guard, activate “free cutting” mode and aim for slicing across the blue box, followed up with a simple quick time button tap, Raiden takes the spinal column of an enemy and replenishes himself with it… kinda like a vampire.
Unlike other action games like DmC or Bayonetta, parrying and counter attacks are far more useful than all out cutting. Button mashers will quickly grow annoyed with various members of “Maverick” lamenting Raiden’s death. Parrying is accomplished by tapping the attack button while nudging the left analog stick in the direction the attack is coming from, reminiscent of the parrying system from the mobile game Infinity Blade. Countering your foes is also a key element to battles, making fights feel less like the aforementioned games and more like the Batman Arkham games. It’s clear that sourcing development of major gameplay elements out of Platinum Games was a good decision.
The weakest element of the gameplay is the “sneaking” elements. It feels less of a game mechanic and more of something tacked on for nostalgia purposes. Though the fact you get a “cardboard box” to sneak around in did tickle my fancy a little bit, it was simply that… just a little something to smirk at a little bit. What I felt is the strongest element of gameplay is how you can develop Raiden’s skills and upgrade his weaponry. The better you fight, the more BP (battle points) you rack up between chapters, when one chapter ends you have the option to redeem you BP for skills and upgrades. Especially when you start slicing through each boss battle, you gain a unique weapon that particular boss used, these too can be bought and upgraded from that menu.
Not perfect but pretty damn close. I look forward to tackling a few more VR missions and eventually seeing what Kojima Productions will do with this series. An absolute must buy!