Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance ReviewRhody Tobin
If you watched any of Raiden's fight scenes in Metal Gear Solid 4, you probably wanted to play that game. Sure, sneaking around as Snake is always fun, but watching Raiden slice and dice Gekkos was a whole different level of impressive. Well, Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance is that game.
Rising started life as Metal Gear Solid Rising, a melon slicing simulator by Kojima Productions, which never managed to actually become a proper game. The current Metal Gear Rising is the result of the project being picked up by action game masters Platinum Games, and it is better for it.
The action in Rising is about as fast and intense as you could expect from a game starring a cyborg ninja. Raiden is lightning quick, with fast strikes and no need to even stop to defend. Defense is mostly handled with the Parry ability. By tilting the control stick towards the enemy and pressing the square button, Raiden can block most attacks. Time it perfectly, and he'll parry and counterattack. Skilled players will never have to stop moving. While most battles can be won by simply mashing the attack buttons and guarding at the right moments, Rising is most fun when trying to be as stylish as possible, mixing unlockable moves and secondary weapons with Raiden's new Blade Mode ability.
Rising's tag line is Cut what you will, and it encourages you to do just that. Raiden can slice pretty much anything he doesn't need to leave in one piece in order to progress (and even some things he does). Boxes, cars, tanks, doors, iron bars, bridge supports, and, of course, people all fall before Blade Mode. While in Blade Mode, time slows down and Raiden's sword can manually be aimed with the control stick. Blade Mode has all sorts of uses, the most practical of which being the ability to perform Zandatsu kills by slicing enemies in specific spots and stealing the precious nanopaste they hold within. Nanopaste completely replenishes Raiden's health and fuel (which is spent to use Blade Mode).
There's a huge variety of enemies, including fan favourites like the Metal Gear Solid 4 Gekkos and Dwarf Gekkos. Boss battles are the highlight of the game, mixing ridiculous characters with completely over-the-top abilities in front of an dynamic rock soundtrack. When a man separates into twenty pieces, held together by a magnetic field, and throws a barrage of tanks and helicopters at you, the vocals in the soundtrack kick in and you know things are getting hot.
Despite switching to an outside developer, Rising tries its best to be worthy of the Metal Gear name. While it never quite reaches Metal Gear Solid 4 levels in terms of cutscene length and frequency, it's no slouch. There are tons of optional codec conversations (reportedly more than 500) and plenty of easter eggs to find. While recurring characters are kept to a minimum (even Raiden's notoriously naggy wife Rose leaves him alone for the entire game), the cast of characters is suitably colourful. Bosses are every bit as insane as any member of Dead Cell or Foxhound. You can even play certain sections as a stealth game, if you want, though simply going nuts and stabbing everyone is always a valid option.
Graphically, Rising is a mixed bag. Backgrounds are somewhat bland and many models have plenty of jaggies. On the other hand, the game runs at a mostly smooth 60FPS with no screen tearing. It seems that certain things have been sacrificed for the sake of performance, and in a game as fast-paced as Rising, it's worth it. The camera needs more babysitting than it should, though it shouldn't cause too many problems with smart use of the lock on system. Still, it's too common for a boss to appear just out of frame after doing a big flashy attack.
Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance is everything you could hope for from a Metal Gear action game. The story is equal parts cheese and thoughtful commentary on the war economy, the action is fast and frantic, and slicing things and people to ribbons couldn't possibly be more satisfying. Series fans looking for the traditional Metal Gear Solid stealth gameplay would be better served elsewhere, but Rising is a fantastic game that does a phenomenal job of finally giving a traditional Metal Gear cyborg ninja a starring role. Action game fans should definitely check it out.
Disclosure: We are provided copies of games from the game companies for some games that we review.