Developer: Platinum Games
Platform(s): PlayStation 3, Xbox 360
Truthfully, I have always been fond of Raiden, the cyborg ninja protagonist who stalks his prey in Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance. His center stage role in Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty didn’t win him many friends but I was quite alright with it; especially since Metal Gear Solid 2 was my first Metal Gear game.
Raiden was repositioned as a badass ninja in Metal Gear Solid 4: Sons of the Patriots, and his popularity there has eventually given rise to his spin-off game. Revengeance is not another Metal Gear Solid game, the usual tactical espionage action subtitle has been replaced by lightning bolt action.
Metal Gear Rising’s story follows four years after the collapse of the SOP (Sons of the Patriots) in Metal Gear Solid 4. Everything Snake-related is out of the picture here, but that’s OK because Raiden may be brash and emotional but he also punishes bad guys all the same.
Without revealing any plot points, I would like to state that Revengeance’s story is gruesome compared to the other Metal Gear games. If we follow the writers’ take on the future world, technology and privatization really wreak havoc on morality. Actually, technology and privatization take the concept of modern wrong to some enormous levels. In short, it’s easy to see why Raiden is on such a rampage.
Metal Gear’s storyline is usually one punctuated by long idealistic cutscenes, not unlike the pre-battle staredowns from Dragon Ball Z. I would be lying if I said they were completely missing from Revengeance but I can say that they do take a backseat to what’s happening on-screen and at your fingertips. If you do crave the usual backstory or nuance, simply bring up the codec and discuss the latest events with your away team, they are happy to chat at length about the latest plot developments. There’s even a scene that ends prematurely because the character states out loud that Raiden’s heard enough ideals for the day.
Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance is a flashy piece of software. Platinum Games’ Bayonetta and Vanquish lineage unsurprisingly matches the substance that the Metal Gear series is known for. The whole game is based on executing, fluid cutting motions and while you can’t exactly cut everything (that was just too good to be true), what you can cut floats away into a satisfying collage of ribbons. The glory of it all is punctuated by the counter on the left side of your screen that keeps track of your hit combo and the amount of once-whole parts that you’ve created with your graceful strokes.
The characters of Revengeance are meticulously designed, Raiden especially. Rivets and bolts adorn his cyborg body, and flesh intersects with metal in elegant fashion. From Raiden’s jaw-less visage to the extra bits of kinetic spark that exude from the tattered components of the latest combatant, Revengeance gets everything right when it comes to visuals. On an audio level, Metal Gear Rising doesn’t subdue itself. The music has a tendency to not just spike up but actually gain proper vocals as events reach a crescendo. It worked out pretty well, considering this industry usually opts for atmospheric music that doesn’t have a matching vocal track, leaving that kind of stuff for blockbuster game commercials.
Gameplay has a quick, agile flow to it. Because the universe is familiar, everything looks same-y but Revengeance feels much more responsive than previous Metal Gear games. With the de-emphasis on stealth, Platinum Games was free to create a super slick action game. The controls are simple, mostly relying on a few key button presses along with some modifiers here or there for some fancy blade cutting. It’s refreshing to play a combo-oriented action game that doesn’t rely on blocking or repeated dodging in order to survive encounters.
Revengeance keeps an offensive tone by providing the player with seamless combos with the attack buttons, a Ninja Run button (for free-running), and a directional parry system. It’s a little tricky to pull off at first, but the parry system is rewarding without ever being frustrating. Watch for the tell-tale flash of red light from an enemy, point towards him and hold your light attack button in order to parry his blow. Time it right and you are rewarded with a moment to go into blade mode, cutting into your foe with reckless ferocity.
Skillful play is lauded in this game, it goes even as far as giving you a grade for encounters and chapters. Healing is done by entering a slow-motion state that activates after you’ve sufficiently crushed enemies’ resistances. Here, you can dismember your cyborg opponents and crush their insides for a shot of more power and health.
Revengeance isn’t wanting when it comes to boss encounters or special moments. My girlfriend would leave for a few minutes to do something and come back bewildered that I was fighting yet another boss. The Winds of Destruction boss fights are some of the best gaming moments I’ve had in the past few months. They are challenging but fair, exactly what you want from a quick action game like this one.
If you’re a critic of QTEs then you may be put off by the frequency with which they occur in Revengeance. I am happy to say that Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance does a bang up job. The sequences may not be in the coherent realm of possibility but they do make sense if you play video games. Cutting up missiles may not plausibly defuse them but it’s really fun.
As I said before, you can’t cut everything but what you can cut surprised me while I was playing the game. I actually had an encounter where I was stuck because I didn’t realize that I could cut through some walls and it would actually do something. Raiden’s sword would pass clean through the environment (as you would expect) but the result would be two pieces of a now useless barricade. Awesome.
Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance isn’t for everyone, but it sure as hell was for me. I feel that it is devoid of major flaws and smooths over any minor ones to the point of not even having them.
Honestly, I’ve been waiting for someone to make a game like this my whole life. Cutting into virtual objects is as fun as I imagined it. But let your aesthetic tastes decide this one for you.