Review: Metal Gear Rising Revengeance

The Metal Gear series is as old as Nintendo; although, it will never be known as a Nintendo franchise. First appearing on the NES, Metal Gear was a somewhat interesting game that was quickly forgotten in light of releases such as Bionic Commando. No, the Metal Gear series will forever be associated with Sony because of its rebirth on the Playstation as Metal Gear Solid. Tactical espionage action was the name of the game for Kojima Studio’s newest game, and its unique combination of stealth gameplay, and serious, dour political intrigue offset by total wackiness made instant waves with audiences. Spanning four main games on consoles, two main games on portables, and two weird acid-induced card games, the Metal Gear series has proven itself to be an enduring one. When Kojima originally announced Metal Gear Rising, it was bringing the series in a completely new direction. Many Metal Gear games had cyborg ninja characters, but this would be the first time you’d be able to play as one. Gone was the stealth-focused gameplay and in was the tag-line “cut everything”. This concept for Metal Gear Rising fell through, and Kojima outsourced development to Platinum Studios, the creators of Bayonetta and Vanquish. As Metal Gear Rising developed, it quickly became an action game in the same vein as Bayonetta, and that game’s influence can be seen peppered throughout the final product. So how good is a game co-created by Kojima and Platinum? The answer is pretty damn good.

I know. It IS weird that Raiden doesn’t suck anymore.
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The story of Metal Gear Rising follows the exploits of Raiden, the character that everyone hated from Metal Gear Solid 2 because they were tricked into thinking that he wasn’t the main character. This game takes place after Metal Gear Solid 4, so Raiden is considerably less whiny and much more “I’m a ninja and I’m going to kill everyone-y”. The story really does seem like a complete mashup of Kojima and Platinum. You still have plenty of post modern, military dialogue, complete with wonderful codec conversations, but the game’s story is absolutely crazy like all Platinum Games’. Any thought into the story makes it fall apart completely, but that’s kind of the point. As in Bayonetta, Rising is over-the-top and bonkers just for the sake of it. Unfortunately, also like Bayonetta, the supporting cast completely falls flat because there simply isn’t enough time with them and it’s a shame because they look like they could be good characters on their own. The villains are somewhat more interesting, but also barely get enough screen time before you’re finished with them. The lack of screen time is an issue for the entire game, as it is criminally short, which makes the story feel rushed even by Platinum standards. Most action games are short, but you really feel it in Rising, which is a shame because the set up, characters, and most of all gameplay are there with bells on.

Sunny’s the only cameo you’re getting from the Solid series, so don’t go expecting Otacon or Old Snake.
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The gameplay, cornerstone to any proper action game, shines brightly here. It doesn’t begin to approach Bayonetta levels, but nobody should have expected something like that. Metal Gear Rising’s gameplay is almost polar opposite to DmC’s in that this game has a high learning curve, with a far bigger emphasis on boss battles, unlike DmC’s easy to learn and execute combat with a focus on smaller encounters. As mentioned, there is a fairly significant learning curve and the game does a fairly bad job of explaining itself to you even with the tutorials available. For new gamers, the simple act of blocking and lack of a default dodge button will probably cause the most frustration. These basic defensive maneuvers take some time to get used to and you’re expected to be on top of them for the second boss fight. Fortunately, when you’ve cleared the difficulty curve, the rest of the combat is gravy. Metal Gear Rising doesn’t encourage the same level of experimentation and combos as DmC, preferring simplicity over audacity, and favouring the use of its “blade mode” to do quite a bit of the heavy lifting.

The cut everything philosophy still exists, but in limb form.
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Blade mode is what sets Rising apart from most of the other action games on the market. By initiating blade mode, you slow down time and get the ability to cut through pretty much anything, but you’ll find yourself using it on cyborgs more than trees. By executing blade mode when your energy meter is full, you can cut through unshielded enemy cyborgs, killing them instantly, and if you aim properly, you can completely restore your health and energy by feasting on the gooey innards (No joke). This allows you to bounce between cutting down enemies with a certain amount of flow. Of course, some enemies are shielded and require being beaten down before blade mode will be effective on them. This is where traditional action game combat comes in. You will initially have a sword which can be comboed infinitely with strong and weak attacks. As you progress though the game, you’ll pick up unique weapons from bosses, which will replace your strong attack in interesting ways, such as a sai that latches on to enemies and propels you towards them. There are also other primary weapons to unlock, but there isn’t a huge difference between them short of power. The last kind of weapon that you’ll get are the sub weapons, which include rocket launchers and grenades. These are not like Devil May Cry’s projectile weapons, and are largely useless and seem more like vestiges of the Metal Gear series than useful additions.

Do you like staves made from arms? Mistral sure does.
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The gameplay never really falls flat and you are graded for each major encounter based on time, length of combo, enemies killed, and enemies you kill via blade mode. You will also get a bonus if you weren’t hit. Sometimes the over reliance on blade mode hurts this game because it does tend to stifle large, creative combos and you’re penalized for not making good use of it. You achieve a rank up to rank S, and the higher the rank you get the more battle points you will receive. These battle points can be used to unlock moves, strengthen weapons, or unlock new weapons or skins, meaning there is a pretty big incentive to keep doing as good as possible. As mentioned before, the game is very short, but there are things to collect hidden throughout the missions, many of which are easy to miss. These unlock new weapons or VR missions. These missions act as a kind of challenge mode that you can access through the menu at any time. While not game changing, these challenges definitely elongate the time you’ll spend with the game. There are various objectives ranging from killing enemies as quickly as possible to stealth killing rooms of enemies. As mentioned, these missions must be unlocked via the main story, which means that hunting around the missions provide nice incentives.

Ripping out innards has never been so much fun.
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Regular enemy variation is good, especially when you start getting good at blocking, which makes them a joy to fight as a perfect block will often give you the chance to instantly break armour. However, the regular enemies will soon pose little threat to you as you gain experience with the game, especially the unshielded ones. The true focus of this game is the boss battles, which often require a much more focused strategy and a higher competence with blocking. Bosses in this game are considerably more cinematic than the regular grunts, and are, without exception, a joy to fight. All of these fights will involve you damaging these bosses enough to execute a blade mode attack so you can move on to later phases of the fight. This integration of blade mode is usually quite good; although, by the end of the game, bosses jumping away so they can throw things at you gets a little tiresome. Short of that, the game follows Devil May Cry 3 rules, where you will get a weapon after each major boss you kill, which definitely makes beating them even more exciting, as the unique weapons add a lot to the game.

Can you guess whether or not this guy is bad?
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Graphically, the game is good, but the environments are definitely limited. Raiden looks amazing and the design of the bosses really stand out, but it’s hard to get excited about repetitive corridors, which you can’t interact with at all except by cutting a vending machine up here and there. As for sound, the game holds it’s own. The developers made a decision to have boss music, which would intensify and add vocals as the fight deepened. This actually adds a lot of tension to the fights and really makes you feel like a badass, even if it’s a bit silly at times. Something that is more than just good is the voice acting, however. Quinton Flynn does an amazing job as Raiden, and really sets an extremely high bar for the rest of the cast, who are definitely above average. While the game is short, there is a lot of dialogue to hear, especially since you can pause the game and call your team at any point during the game. They generally won’t have any good advice for you like in the Metal Gear Solid series, but it’s still nice and it gives you some great moments, which make me lament that there wasn’t more to the game.

Thanks for Mr. Flynn’s website for providing such a handy graphic.
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As it stands, Metal Gear Rising certainly feels like a Platinum Studio’s effort, not their best, but definitely worth playing. The Metal Gear influence can definitely be felt throughout the whole game, so series fans don’t have to worry; although, the stealth mechanics in this game aren’t something I’d rely on. The combat in this game is top notch, even if it may be a little too reliant on blade mode at times, and the story is equal parts nonsense and strangely charming. This game doesn’t reinvent the wheel, and the shortness of it definitely holds it back immensely, but there is still a lot of fun to be had here.

Pros

– Fun combat system

– Good enemy variety

– Great voice acting
– Charming story
– Lots of collectables 


Cons

– Far too short, which hurts every aspect of the game

– The game does a bad job at explaining its mechanics to you


Score    8.5

-Mistranslations for the Modern Gamer
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