Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance
Developer: Platinum Games
Price: $60
Platform: Playstation 3 & Xbox 360
A PS3 copy of Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance was supplied to us

Konami showed off Metal Gear Solid: Rising back in 2009 and it was quietly cancelled because the development team had trouble making a game based around Raiden and the cutting mechanics. A few years later Platinum Games showed up to pick up the pieces that Kojima Productions swept under the fridge and revamped the game into the monster of an action game it now is.

It’s been a few years since the events of Metal Gear Solid 4 and Raiden has gone back into the murder business or as he likes to call it, “private security”. He’s tasked with protecting a prime minister and things don’t go very well when another PMC group, Desperado Enterprises, arrives to assassinate the prime minister. Raiden gets a shiny new body after the beating he got and he begins investigating Desperado because in typical Scooby-Doo fashion they’re clearly up to no good. The story doesn’t get as convoluted as the main Metal Gear Solid games and it’s a pretty simple story similar to Platinum Games’ other titles. For hardcore Metal Gear fans there’s a TON of in-depth technical talk in the codecs so fans of the lore will still find some interesting stuff in this game, but the story is definitely playing second fiddle to the gameplay.

There’s no other way to describe the gameplay in this game other than with fast and relentless. The enemies come at you with such an aggression that it took me by surprise for a moment. Everything goes so fast you’ll sometimes feel surprised at how quickly a battle ends. Raiden himself lives up to his Mr. Lightning Bolt nickname with how fast he moves in this game. You’ve got a light and strong attack that you can mix together along with various inputs from the left stick combined with one of the two buttons. There’s a solid amount of moves to do with 3 different boss weapons you can swap your strong attack with and the inputs are all pretty easy to pull off so even newcomers to the genre should have no issue pulling off some of the crazier looking moves.

The signature feature of the game is the Blade Mode and cutting mechanic. If you have enough energy you can hold the left bumper (L1) to slow time for a moment and allow you to precisely detach whatever appendage you want from your enemies. If an enemy is weakened enough then you’ll notice a red cross hair in the middle of their body where you can perform a Zandatsu. If you manage to slice right in-between the reticle then you’ll be able to rip out their spine to replenish your health and energy; if you don’t really feel like going through the animation you could just not press the button and let it fall to the ground for you to pick up by walking over it. The cutting itself feels incredibly tight and it’s so damn satisfying to slice an enemy into a hundred pieces. The environment itself has a solid amount of destructibility but don’t expect anything you cut to stay. Later in the game you’ll acquire Ripper Mode that can be activated when you have full energy; entering this mode sends Raiden into a sort of berserk rage where you can cut enemies without needing to go into blade mode but at the cost of draining your energy rapidly.

Revengeance difficulty (Very Very Hard) is a whole different animal though. The game buffs the enemy attack up to the point that if you don’t know how to parry then you’re not going to make it past the first level; it also throws in the more difficult enemies such as Mastiffs earlier in the game and in more numbers. At one point the game threw 3 Mastiffs, 2 Fenrirs (cyborg dog from the demo), and a regular cyborg soldier with an RPG. I was quickly killed like a bitch after I finished shitting myself at the cruelty of PG’s designers. While there isn’t a style rating that increases in rating the longer you hold a combo like in God of War or Bayonetta there’s still a letter rating to earn at the end of each checkpoint and chapter. Things like damage taken, combo length, number of things cut, time and a variety of other objectives contribute to your final score. At the end of a chapter you’re shown how well you did during each ranked battle which makes replaying specific chapters to clean out those bad ratings much easier.

You know you’ve got my attention when your game has robot dinosaurs, gorillas, and wolves in it. The game is filled with a surprising variety of enemies with various robots to take apart or a variety of cyborgs such as flying Sliders or hammer wielding heavies. I think my only issue with the amount of enemies is that the game sort of introduces all of them really quickly. When you begin the sewer level (Stage 3) you’re introduced to the Mastiff (gorilla), the Raptor, and the Vodomjerka all within the first 10 minutes or so.

If you’ve played any of Platinum Games’ previous products then you’re no stranger to the fact that they make short games. Metal Gear Rising Revengeance is probably one of their longest but you will easily finish this game in 5-7 hours depending on skill. Of course that’s just for the story and there are quite a few extra VR Missions to play around with. Considering the type of game it is I’m content with the length because I’d rather play an amazing game that’s a bit on the short side than a mediocre game that pads out its length. I feel the same rule applies to film, imagine if Commando (easily one of the greatest action movies ever made surpassed only by Die Hard) was padded out to 3 hours? It would suck, that’s what would happen.

You can outfit Raiden with new moves or enhance his weapons/armor with the Battle Points (BP) you collect from killing enemies. Most of the upgrades you can get are things like increasing the strength of a weapon, reducing the amount of blade time the sword uses, or increases to your life or blade meter. There are also some moves you can purchase if you felt the move list was a bit lacking.

Instead of a traditional block or dodge button, Rising opts for a parry system and a two-button dodge move. When you see an enemy glow orange that means it’s time to flick the left stick towards them while pressing the light attack button; if you time it right you’ll parry their attack and if you parry it at the last possible moment then Raiden will follow it up with an attack. The dodge move is a bit iffy and takes some getting used to since you have to press the jump and light attack buttons at the same time for Raiden to do a small backwards jump. After playing through the game I’m still not sure I enjoy this system since I would’ve definitely preferred a dedicated dodge or block button instead and the reason for this is because you can’t cancel a combo into a parry; in most action games you can dodge or block while in a combo but in Rising you have to let go of all the buttons/sticks on the controller and then perform the parry. I’ve gotten quite good at parrying and I still want to be able to cancel my combos into a parry since many of the combos have long animations that leave you quite vulnerable.

When you’re finally done slicing your way through the story mode and you still need to satisfy that urge to cut things without getting arrested for it then there are 20 VR Missions to burn through. These missions will give you a variety of objectives such as racing to an objective point or simply killing all the enemies in the area. To keep things fresh the missions all have a slightly different modifier like requiring all enemies to only be killed in blade mode. If you’re a high score junkie then you might want to try to beat the sadistic times set by Platinum Games.

If that’s not enough then there are tons of collectibles to find in the campaign such as data storage units, disguised dwarf geckos, soldiers hidden in boxes, left arms, and the VR missions themselves. Collecting these items will unlock new weapons, items, and armor for you to use such as the wooden sword or machete. All of the unlockable equipment have their own specific ability like having a higher chance to instantly stun an enemy with each hit or infinite sub-weapon ammo so you’re definitely going to want to collect them all to play with.

Metal Gear Rising suffers from something I like to call the MGS4 Syndrome. This is where the character models all look fantastic and detailed while the environment looks like complete shit. Besides a few moments (like the Japanese garden) the game just looks pretty bland and uninspired which isn’t that big of a deal since I’m here for the gameplay, not to look at how the background textures look. It’s also pretty damn disheartening at how quickly objects you slice apart disappear; if you’re slicing at a single object for long enough you’ll even see pieces disappearing as you’re still slicing it. I understand this is essential to keep the frame rate up but it still kills the moment when you can’t really revel in your destruction of an environment when everything you chopped up disappears the moment you turn the camera away. If you’ve played any action game from Platinum you know they know a thing or two about music and they are one of the few developers out there who have really perfected the right music to pump you up in an action game. The music comes at you fast and relentless which really compliments the speed of the game.

The Final Word
Platinum Games once again proves why people hold them in such high regard and Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance shows how capable they are when handling a spin-off to a major franchise. If I didn’t know Bayonetta 2 was coming out this year I’d be bold enough to say that this is easily going to be the best action game of the year and ironically enough both games are made by the same developers. Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance delivers everything you could want in an action game and manages to surpass my expectations of a hack & slash title in a series known for its stealth games.

- MonsterVine Rating: 4.5 out of 5 – Great