Review - Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance
Setting out to capture the life and times of a cyber-ninja in today’s world is quite a feat. Kojima Productions and Platinum Games have not only managed to rise to this challenge, but in the process of doing so they’ve created an action game like no other. Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance might just be the best of the genre this generation has yet to experience,
If Metal Gear’s universe wasn’t oozing with style, who knows if Rising’s impact would be as profound. All Platinum had to do was find Raiden’s place in that universe, and luckily they perfectly captured the essence of the franchise. Little touches in the UI, character models, and the inclusion of VR Missions; this is certainly a Metal Gear! It is a paramount factor to fans of the franchise and luckily, Platinum delivered. The models are most impressive with the engine running at a clean 60-fps, leading to face-melting combat animations. At times I thought it might be the best looking thing on PS3, but then I notice the environments.
Yeah, the world Raiden inhabits looks a bit janky at times. It might only be noticeable because of how great the models looks, but the vehicles and general arenas left me unimpressed. Also, the environments’ color palettes felt a bit sterile, with the exception of the Japanese Garden. However, being able to slice ‘n dice massive objects in the process of fighting off enemies more than makes up for those shortcomings. When it comes right down to it, the Zandatsu and Blade Mode are icing on the cake. The visual effect of cutting something into thousands of little pieces never once loses its appeal. And the way Raiden digs into enemies for sustenance creates the sincerest form of instant gratification for the player. It keeps visual momentum high. It is the biggest reason I keep coming back to play.
Rising also features an entirely original soundtrack, including a few vocal tracks. In many ways this is a first for the series and it provides a better accompaniment to the high-speed nature of Raiden’s adventure. The music is mostly heavy metal with orchestral elements and boss fights swell with the vocal tracks. It works -- and for big fans of the game, the 13 original metal tracks might be something you’d like to revisit. The dialogue doesn’t fair as well, but as this is a Metal Gear game, so I’m not surprised. Some characters have great chemistry, while others are flat out bores. Kojima mixes in humorous dialog naturally, but the universe is so high fantasy, it really doesn’t matter much. What’s important is the story’s strong conviction in spite of this being what some might consider “a big dumb action game”.
Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance mostly abandons the stealth and tactical elements the franchise was built on. Instead, it takes all that extra energy and pumps up the action. You assume the role of Snake’s old partner in crime Raiden, who undergoes a little bit of a physical transition. His new cybernetic body affords him a number of new abilities, like the Ninja Run; a sort of parkour, allowing you to both avoid enemies and get a bit closer. And of course you have access to additional items like in past Metal Gear games… but Rising isn’t really like any of those games. In Rising, combat takes center stage and cuts right to the heart of the matter.
Being a full-blown cyborg, Raiden needs electrolytes to keep moving and Gatorade just isn’t going to cut it. Since all the enemies in Rising are also cyborgs, they have internal electrolyte generators. Execute an enemy correctly and Raiden consumes the generator, refilling a large portion of his health and energy. You can find these generators using Blade Mode and by refilling so much of Raiden’s health it makes for a truly unique combat experience. This makes enemies more difficult and their attacks vary greatly. Sure I found the learning curve on the parry system fairly high, but the process of unleashing Zandatsu incredibly rewarding. A sword is a ninja’s best friend after all.
The HF blade isn’t the only way to skin these cyborgs, because with each boss defeated, Raiden gets an additional secondary weapon. The way this is utilized is also unique and the weapons behave in wildly different ways. Most notably are the Sai, which behave as a complement to the HF Blade more than an actual weapon. All boss fights include slightly annoying QTE’s in addition to Zandatsu, but they result in explosive acts of pugilism that push Raiden to his limits. There are even a few enemies that I feared facing head on, their techniques being unpredictable, but stealth was still a viable mechanic when needed.
Raiden is hardly a cyborg finished though. Throughout the game there are numerous collectables that unlock various improvements to Raiden, more VR missions, and data in the Extra menus. Unless you are incredibly adept at the combat, it will require multiple playthroughs to unlock everything. The game isn’t long though, coming in just over the 5-hour mark and that didn’t seem to include my personal struggles with the final boss, so to me it felt a bit longer. Still, it's the right length though for what Kojima and Platinum set out to create. With the New Game +, VR Missions, and future DLC, most fans will find more than their money’s worth in the end game.
Now sure, there are fans out there that will immediately dismiss this as nothing more than some half-brained spin-off to cash-in on nostalgia. Sorry to disappoint, but that idea couldn’t be further from the truth. This is a labor of love that spawned a unique approach to an entire genre, respectively expanded on a franchise in a meaningful way, and is a fucking good time to boot. Don’t let the mediocre dialogue or high difficulty detour you from following through on this journey. Blade Mode and Zandatsu are mechanics that I’d like to see more of from Platinum and Kojima in the future. If Raiden has more battles to fight and wars to wage, I’ll be right there with him on the front lines.
|ScrewAttack's News Director Sean Hinz worked in logistics for over four years before decided it was time to switch industries. After a couple years spent getting an MBA and freelancing, he finally found a home at ScrewAttack.com. As far as games go, Sean likes to play anything he can get his hands on, but especially enjoys third-person action RPGs. Is that really a genre?|