Geared for success.
Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance has been in development for quite some time. So long, in fact, that there was often talks of the game’s cancellation. Luckily, Kojima Productions made the smart decision to hand development over to Platinum Games who have more than proved themselves as competent developers of action games. Classics like Vanquish, Madworld and Bayonetta spring to mind here, and with good reason, as Rising certainly feels like a Platinum Games experience, and should be considered one of their finest titles to date.
Many of the game’s cutscenes, however, are cheesy to the point of being cringeworthy.
Not many games have the privilege of generating sales on its title alone, but it’s an advantage the Metal Gear series has had since the days of Solid Snake’s first 3D outing, Metal Gear Solid. Rising is set four years after the events of Metal Gear Solid 4, and shows the world in the aftermath of the Patriots’ collapse. PMCs (or private military companies) have been established around the globe for peacekeeping purposes, whom employ highly skilled mercenaries to carry out their work. You play as Raiden, a pretty boy turned cyborg badass who is employed by a PMC named Maverick. As Raiden, it’s your job to stop a rogue PMC from initiating a global conflict, whilst also preventing their use of orphaned cyborg brains to create super soldiers out of children.
If that all sounds completely ridiculous to you, that’s because it is. Rising raises some interesting points with the prospect of military privatisation and the notion of war as a commodity, and seals them in the context of an enjoyable science-fiction action game. Many of the game’s cutscenes, however, are cheesy to the point of being cringeworthy. Characters are incredibly flamboyant and their stereotypical accents make it hard to take most of them at all seriously. Raiden himself isn’t much better, putting on a gravelly voice that would make Christian Bale’s Batman blush. However, it’s cheesy in that goofy Japanese sort of way. Think God Hand or Devil May Cry. If you go into Rising expecting a wacky story and an obnoxious cast of characters, you may get some enjoyment out of it.
Revengeance Is Mine
Raiden’s main drive for saving the world doesn’t solely lie in his sense of justice; Raiden is on a path of revenge, wishing to strike back at the guys who almost killed him. Luckily, he’s more than capable of pulling this off thanks to his reinforced cyborg body and High Frequency blade.
Raiden has four main forms of attack; the first two are his light and strong attack which can be strung together to create combos. These are what you’ll be using most of the time, and the system is a little similar to how you attack in the Dynasty Warriors series; you can spam light attack moves to quickly weaken enemies and then finish them off with a strong attack, for example. Third, Raiden can sneak up on enemies for a stealth kill while remaining undetected, which is useful in areas that prefer you remain hidden. Lastly, and most awesomely, is Blade Mode. This allows you to slow down time, allowing Raiden to make cocktail sausages out of his enemies by slicing them into tiny pieces. Raiden can also parry enemy attacks to avoid taking damage, which is performed by pressing the light attack button and holding the analogue stick in the direction the attack is coming from at the same time. It’s a mechanic that is vital to success and definitely takes some getting used to, but responding to the enemies’ telegraphed attacks soon becomes second nature.
Using Blade Mode is absolutely vital to surviving in Rising. When in Blade Mode, enemies within range will have a red square displayed on them indicating their vital cyborg components. If Raiden cuts here, he is able to absorb their electrolytes, which fully replenishes his health and Blade Mode energy. It’s a deeply satisfying system that rewards players that like to get up close and personal with their enemies. It doesn’t make the game overly easy, either, as your health can take a dive in seconds if you don’t defend well enough. Also, Blade Mode is far from overpowered; larger foes, such as armoured opponents and gekko mech units, must be weakened through standard attacks before you can sever their limbs or deprive them of their vitals. All in all Blade Mode is a joy to use; immensely satisfying and incredibly visceral, it’s a mechanic that never gets old or overstays its welcome.
Rise Above It
Rising is a tough game, thanks largely to its wide variety of enemies that grow increasingly unpredictable as the campaign advances. Stages are broken up into segments that grade you on tasks such as the time it took you to complete the segment, as well as how many vital components you absorbed (known as the Zandatsu technique) and how many enemies you defeated. Grading is strict, but fair, and rewards skillful and efficient play. Getting Rank S on each stage’s segment is a tall order, as the game will constantly throw unique enemy pairings and variations at you. More often than not, you’ll be fighting foot soldiers and robots at the same time, forcing you to think about the order in which your dispatch them. Some segments are hidden and require a little bit of exploration to uncover; you’ll be lucky to get higher than a C rank on a stage if you miss even one segment.
Thankfully finding the more elusive parts of a stage aren’t too much trouble given the game’s fantastic level design. While in an all new setting and time period, Rising shows off similarities to previous Metal Gear games in its various locations. You’ll infiltrate secret military bases and science labs, and maneuver through cityscapes both technologically advanced and ruined by extensive warfare. These areas serve as great arenas for Raiden to slice and dice his enemies in, and harbour many secrets revealed through exploration. Stages aren’t corridors, and often open up to allow the player to explore. The solition radar returns to highlight enemy locations and provide a layout of the area, which is useful during the game’s stealth sections.
The game’s bosses are all fantastic in their own way, and almost all of them prove to be pretty difficult.
Speaking of which, these stealth sections are thankfully infrequent. With no fully developed stealth system in place, you’re forced to simply avoid enemy eye contact, take them out with stealth kills or initiate a fight with all guards in the area, which is often incredibly hard. These parts of the game don’t drag on, however, and are restricted to only one or two segments of an entire stage, so they don’t harm the experience extensively. Also an afterthought are the items Raiden can collect in his inventory. Scattered throughout the stages are items like rocket launchers, cardboard boxes and image cards (used to distract enemies, much like the magazines from Metal Gear Solid). These items rarely have any use given how powerful Raiden already is; he’s never really acutely vulnerable in the same way Snake would be, so their use is largely unnecessary.
At the end of each stage you’re given the opportunity to upgrade Raiden’s weapon and body through battle points accumulated in combat. It’s fairly standard upgrade fare, such as the ability to strengthen weapons, increase your life gauge and learn new weapon skills, but the steady rate at which you’re awarded battle points gives a natural feeling of progression, as you get better to meet the game’s challenging demands.
A lot of the challenge in Rising stems from some of the most memorable boss fights in recent memory. The game’s bosses are all fantastic in their own way, and almost all of them prove to be pretty difficult. Their designs are fantastical, yet remain semi-faithful to the Metal Gear universe in terms of style. The fights themselves are incredibly reminiscent of No More Heroes, and certainly would not feel out of place in that game. These boss fights test your collective skill up to that point, with the final boss being the toughest of them all, and easily one of the hardest fights in recent years.
Rising is a gorgeous package presentation-wise. The game’s more interesting locales do a great job of immersing the player, and character designs are equally imaginative. There’s the occasional low-res texture or bland environment design, but there’s still a lot to love here. Combat is incredibly flashy and the effects add substantial feedback to its brutal nature. The framerate rarely drops below 60 fps, a rarity on consoles with a game that looks as good as this. Rising also features a great soundtrack produced by Jamie Christopherson, which utilises heavy metal and vocals. The boss themes are particularly notable and won’t fail to provide an adrenaline rush — your hairs will be standing on end.
So much love and creativity has clearly been poured into this game that it’s no surprise that the campaign doesn’t last very long. On Normal difficulty, the game can be beat in around 5-6 hours, and even less time on subsequent New Game+ playthroughs. Thankfully there’s a ton of replay value to be had, with unlockable boss weapons, costumes for Raiden, VR missions, additional difficulties and so on. Plus, the campaign is so much fun that you’ll most likely want to play through it multiple times, a prospect that is incredibly hard to pull off, especially within the triple-A market that often favours style over substance.
So, Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance is finally here and if the review didn’t make it clear enough, it was absolutely worth the wait. The short campaign and occasional awkward stealth sections do little to spoil the overall quality of the experience. The game’s combat mechanics and boss fights offer a healthy degree of substance whilst also being unashamedly visceral. This, in conjunction with extensive replay value and a level of challenge that takes the player seriously, equate to a game that absolutely must not be missed by action fans.
A review copy of Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance was provided courtesy of Konami. The game was reviewed on PlayStation 3.
Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance Review – Super Sharp
Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance has been lovingly crafted by Platinum Games and sits among their best titles. Those of you on the fence about Raiden’s latest adventure needn’t fear, as the fun combat, boss fights, imaginative level design and great presentation make Rising stand out from the hack-and-slash crowd.