Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance is a strange beast. It flies in the face of the stealth gameplay that has been the hallmark of the Metal Gear series since the first game on the MSX2 back in 1987.
Revengeanceshuns creeping about and is instead all about kicking arse.
The game has been raising eyebrows amongst fans through out its on-off development and it wasn’t just because of the change to an action focus, either. For this outing Metal Gear series protagonist, Snake takes a rest and instead we take control of the white-haired, katana-wielding cyborg, Raiden.
We first met Raiden way back in 2001’s Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty. That game also exchanged fan-favourite, Solid Snake for the androgynous Raiden. It was a creative decision that didn’t go down well with fans at the time.
The character was, however, better received when a radically altered, cyborg-enhanced Raiden made an exciting surprise appearance in Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots.
Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance is a tale of revenge, as you’d expect given the (not-sure-if-it-is-a-real-word) subtitle.
Set four years after the events of Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots, Raiden has hooked up with a private military contractor called Maverick Security. During an ill-fated rescue attempt on an African politician in his charge, Raiden is attacked by a cybernetically-enhanced mercenary called Samuel Rodrigues.
This intro sequence is fully playable and includes an early combat encounter with one of the huge titular Metal Gear mechs.
In previous games, an event such as this is usually reserved as an end game boss. The Metal Gear’s destruction at the hands of Raiden serves to illustrate just how much of a formidable opponent he is and sends a message that the game means business, taking the Metal Gear series in a new direction.
With the setup in place and sporting a new cyborg body, Raiden sets out to the African country of Abkhazia, now leaderless and under siege by Desperado Enterprises-aided opposition forces. On a mission to free the country, Raiden is also out extract his revenge on those that maimed him.
Revengeance was originally intended as Raiden’s original story and in development with series creator Hideo Kojima’s own studio. Unhappy with the games swordplay, Kojima shelved the project until Bayonetta developers Platinum Games Inc. took the reins.
Kojima’s distance from the project shows, giving us a more collected and consistent title and coming across as less of a frustrated filmmaker’s folly than previous games. Unlike MGS4, there’s no forty minute cut scenes to sit thorough this time.
The game’s plot is a bit more reserved and easy to follow than its Metal Gear Solid stable mates, which should serve to make this game a little more accessible to those not so familiar with Kojima’s rather unique story-telling. That being said, the game still features those god-awful codec conversations and the clumsy exposition that comes with them.
The gameplay is part traditional Metal Gear, part lunatic Japanese action game – a la Devil May Cry – and part precision sword-fighting game. And you know what, even though it shouldn’t, it actually works!
Combat is carried out via two different combat modes.
In the normal button-mashing mode that’s a staple of fast-paced Japanese action games; Raiden has two speeds of slashing attack: a quick light attack and a slow heavy attack that deals a lot more damage.
Most strikes from opponents can be blocked by a carefully times counterattacks that can be chained to unleash a series of sword strikes. Handy visual cues help with the timing of counters and give warning of un-blockable attacks.
When opponents have been sufficiently punished, a press of a shoulder button sends Raiden into Blade Mode. This gives players precise control of every stroke of Raiden’s sword.
Not only can Raiden chop opponents up into little bits, swiping at highlighted targets allows Raiden to rip out the cyborg’s blue, artificial spinal cords for a health boost. Yes, it’s pretty disgusting.
Chopping up stuff, cyborgs and vehicles using Blade Mode is just about the most satisfying thing I’ve done in a game for a long time. Every time Raiden leaped in slow motion above and assailant, signalling a strike using his “Zandatsu” ability,I couldn’t help but grin as he made neat slices out of his target.
As you’d expect in a game like this, chapters are book-ended by obligatory boss fights.
I’m not the greatest fan of boss fights, especially those of the Japanese ilk.
Thankfully, Metal Gear Rising’s bosses were not of the perplexing, randomly regenerating, game-time extenders that I was expecting. Following a more logical approach than many of its peers, with Revengeance,the few times a boss got the better of me I simply needed to adjust my strategy, the game rewarding my combat skill rather than my persistence.
Despite its arcade-action approach, Revengeance stays true to its roots, with all the alert sounds and visual cues taken straight from the Metal Gear canon.
The cyborg tech that we first saw in Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots plays a huge part in game, with Raiden taking on a variety of cybernetic creatures from the familiar huge bipedal Geckos to the new dog-like LQ-84i.
Some other Metal Gear staples making a return for RevengeanceareVR mission. These unlockable missions serve as tutorials, practice arenas and challenges in which players can hone Raiden’s abilities.
Revengeance looks pretty good on the Xbox 360, this being the first new Metal Gear game on the system (I’m not counting the HD remakes). The visuals have a nice film grain to them and the HUD will be very familiar to Metal Gear Solid fans.The games presentation is very slick with stylish combat animations and gorgeous finishing moves.
For me Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance delivers something that I’ve been craving for, for years. Despite my love for the series, I’m not the greatest fan of the stealth genre.
Ever since my first go on Metal Gear Solid on the PSOne, I’ve wanted to shoot, kick and punch my way through a Metal Gear game. Revengeance works so well that the hard-core stealth fans of the Metal Gear game ought to be a bit concerned; I can see the action gameplay influencing future titles in the franchise.
Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance is a great addition to the Metal Gear series that should please existing fans open to something new as well as newcomers to the franchise.
Platform: PlayStation 3 / Xbox 360
No. of Players: 1 + Online