It all began in 2001 with Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty. After playing the game’s opening chapter, gamers were shockingly met with one of the most famous (or infamous) baton switches in video game history. He wasn’t as cool, badass, or popular as Snake, but most importantly: he wasn’t Snake. Series character Raiden made his debut in Metal Gear Solid 2 with some harsh fan reaction, and it only took him seven years to redeem himself in the most amazing way possible. Since Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots, Raiden has transformed himself into a cyborg ninja who rarely lets anything get in his way before cutting it to pieces. Inspired by a cutscene in MGS4 where Raiden destroys a wave of unmanned machines with his sword, Kojima Productions and Platinum Games gives us Raiden’s first stand-alone adventure: Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance. We were all thinking the same thing...How could this be bad, right? Fortunately I’m happy to say we were correct in thinking that.
Revengeance takes place four years after MGS4, going against Kojima’s original idea of the game being an interquel between MGS2 and MGS4. The Patriots are done for, and soldiers are now turning to cyborg technology enhancements rather than Patriot controlled nanomachines. Raiden, alongside his Codec crew, goes up against Desperado Enterprises, an organization looking to preserve conflict and encourage war to gain the financial and technological benefits. Among the higher ups of the organization are Jetstream Sam, Sundowner, Mistral, and Monsoon. Your job is to stop Desperado from basically repeating what the Patriots had done years ago and ensure a peaceful economy.
"The jaw-dropping combat, sensational music, high speed anime stylings, and boss fights are more than enough to look beyond the game’s flawed stealth mechanics, story, and length."
The story in Metal Gear games has always been one of the stronger, or at the least one of the most engaging and in depth tales in video game franchises. With a brand as prolific as Metal Gear, it can be hard to keep the story fresh and entertaining, but Kojima Productions has done a relatively good job of it in the past. Unfortunately, Revengeance definitely feels like a spinoff in the sense that its story feels unnecessary, unimportant, and frankly just not very good. Raiden’s path to take on Desperado isn’t nearly as engaging as Snake’s adventures before him, or even Raiden’s adventure in MGS2. Though Raiden is as kickass as ever, it’s pretty much exclusively for superficial reasons, and not his actual character. At one point near the middle of the game, he’s even suddenly portrayed as villain-ish, especially in comparison to his somewhat understandable rival Jetstream Sam. Your buddies on the Codec consist of Doktor, Boris, Kevin, and Courtney; none of which are memorable or interesting. Not to mention that you gain a child ally along the way named George who would be most suited as "the Jar Jar Binks of Metal Gear." Series fans wanting yet another satisfying and in depth story in the series will be largely disappointed. Luckily, the gameplay more than makes up for it...
No it’s not perfect, but Platinum Games has delivered a combat system that is very much worthy of the title "Lightning Bolt Action." Raiden’s moves are astonishing, fluid, and fast as hell. As Otacon would put it, "it’s just like one of my Japanese animes!" Your main weapon of choice here is a high frequency blade. Quick attacks and strong attacks can be mixed and matched into beautifully animated combos, some of which allow Raiden to hack n’ slash with his feet. Among your regular attacks is also the deadly Ripper Mode, an ability you get in the middle of the game that allows you to cut your enemies into pieces using regular attacks. New skills purchased with Battle Points can be added to your growing library of attacks, diversifying your experience with every fight, making it even more fun to play than it already was. Regular enemies end up going down pretty easily once you get the hang of it; other enemies not so much. Thankfully you have your parry move, AKA one of the most satisfying defensive moves I’ve ever seen in a hack n’ slash game. Parrying requires the player to quickly press the left control stick in the direction of the enemy’s attack while also pressing the square button. This subtle input detail feels so satisfyingly real, you’ll feel like a god by the time you master this mechanic.
As smooth as general combos can be, it’s not what MGR will be remembered for, and to be fair, it’s hard to stack up to the game’s incredible Blade Mode. This method of attack is the main selling point of the game’s combat, and it does not disappoint in the slightest. Blade mode uses Zandatsu, which slows down time around you and allows you to precision cut an enemy or object from any angle within the 360 degree frame in front of you. To put it bluntly, sliding under an enemy and proceeding to cut him into a million pieces as his body flies directly above you while sweeping across the ground on your back is simply unbelievably awesome. Even more emphasis is put on Blade Mode with all enemies having central Zandatsu points on their cyborg bodies, which serves as the sweet spot you want to hit while in Blade Mode. Hitting this spot allows you to literally rip out their spine, crush it in a gorgeous animation, and recharge your health and power. You will be doing this a lot and trust me, it never gets old. Additionally, a handful of minutes will be wasted by you cutting apart objects in the environment just for fun. Any cut from any angle makes a perfect line right where you intended.
As satisfying and engaging as Revengeance’s combat is, it was obvious there were some colliding ideas going on with Kojima Productions and Platinum Games. Being a canon Metal Gear game, some traditional aspects of Metal Gear were kept locked in place in this very different Metal Gear experience. Every now and then, Boris will contact you and actually encourage stealth during certain segments of the game. During these moments, he warns it’s probably smartest to avoid enemies rather than fight them. Stealth is a Metal Gear Solid trope, and is not fitting as a Metal Gear Rising trope. This is a game where the player wants to take their foes head on and introduce them to Raiden’s sword, not a game where it’s fun to avoid the coolest aspect: the combat. Sorry, but cyborg Raiden is better left outside the cardboard box.
Another major annoyance is the addition of sub-weapons, consisting of grenades and rocket launchers. Herein lies the biggest problem with the game; sub-weapons not only are unnecessary, ineffective, and flow-breaking, but they rob you of an extra button that could be used for something much better. The L2 button is for using your sub-weapon, but it could be used to switch out your unique weapon on the fly. Unique weapons are tools of destruction you pick up from bosses you defeat such as Mistral’s staff. In order to switch unique weapons, you must press Select which pauses the game and can only be done when not in immediate combat. L2 could be used as an on-demand weapon switching button a la Bayonetta or Devil May Cry, but instead it’s used to fulfill the need to make this more of a Metal Gear Solid game than a Metal Gear Rising game. These problems collide with an otherwise perfect gameplay experience, taking things down a notch or two.
It comes as no surprise that Revengeance is similar to Platinum’s Bayonetta when it comes to mission structure. Missions are constantly broken up by multiple combat sequences, high-octane set pieces, and boss fights. An evaluation screen pops up after every fight sequence to tell you just how good you did. Though it is satisfying to see that S rank, it’s doubtful you’ll ever really figure out how you got it. At the end of each mission, you are shown your statistics for each battle sequence you completed. From here you can customize Raiden’s body and weapons which enhance your attacks, blades, unique weapons, Zandatsu, life meter, and appearance. In this aspect, Revengeance is your bread and butter hack n’ slash game, but this unfortunately brings up another problem...The game is too short. With a combat system as good as this game has, it’s disappointing how we’re cut off so soon from the worthwhile action. It should be noted though, there are plenty of unlockable VR challenges to keep you playing.
Speaking of worthwhile action, there’s undoubtedly plenty of it in this game. Enemy types range from common cyborgs with guns, to guys with giant hammers, and even Geckos from MGS4. The enemies in Revengeance are well balanced and designed, but a certain aspect really propels the game to a whole other level: the boss fights. If common combat has certain inexcusable problems, the boss fights certainly don’t. Never in a hack n’ slash game have I suddenly felt a rush of adrenaline as a boss fight began quite like those found in Revengeance. You can guarantee yourself once a boss fight starts up, you’ll hit that ninja run button, rush towards your combatant, and give them hell. The combination of music and high speed action is what changes the gamer into someone else entirely during these sequences, and it is glorious. The Monsoon boss fight in particular is quite literally one of the best I’ve experienced within the entire genre. Monsoon’s robot body is segmented into magnetic parts, allowing him to divide his body into multiple pieces. On top of this, he occasionally throws smoke grenades to blind the view outside your personal space. This forces your parrys to be quick as he charges towards you from the air through the thick smoke and trust me, you’ll need those parrys perfected by the time you get to the difficult final boss. It also shouldn’t go without mentioning that you end every boss fight with the opportunity to destroy your foe into a million pieces using Zandatsu. Despite the rest of the game’s problems, things like this are what make Revengeance 100% worth it.
Revengeance is already a satisfying game as it is, but with its stellar presentation, the experience is heightened even further. A lot further. It’s been said that 60% of a film is weighted on its music; whether or not that is true is certainly debatable, as is applied to Revengeance. If you thought Devil May Cry or Bayonetta had a soundtrack that motivated you to kick ass, just wait until you play this game. Every boss fight and set piece has its own dedicated, fast paced, heavy rock song playing in the background to get your blood pumping and it works every single time, vocals and all. Starting the game off with a fight against Metal Gear Ray along with the game’s incredible soundtrack was enough to keep me playing, but it just kept rocking harder the further in I got. Visually, Revengeance isn’t breaking any ground nor does it stack up to previous Platinum outings, but it gets the job done. In fact, the game’s 60 frames per second is more substantial and impressive, and that’s not a complaint!
The jaw-dropping combat, sensational music, high speed anime stylings, and boss fights are more than enough to look beyond the game’s flawed stealth mechanics, story, and length. Kojima and Platinum have crafted an exceptional first installment in what could be the next big franchise for the genre. Raiden is no longer the unneeded show stealer he was twelve years ago; he now has his own game and he deserves it. It has the potential series signature Blade Mode, a character set in one of the most beloved gaming lores, and the perfect developer to see the franchise through. Improvements need to be made, but Metal Gear Rising has already established itself to be an action game well worth it.
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Release date : 2013-02-19
Publisher : Konami
Developer : PlatinumGames
Gameplay : Action
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