A title that was originally cancelled in 2010, Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance thankfully sees the light of day, thanks in part to Platinum Games. Kojima Productions decided to let them develop the game, and therefore resurrect it. The result is a near-masterpiece that blends the Metal Gear universe with hack and slash gameplay style. Many people believed that this would not be a Metal Gear game, but I'm here to tell you that this is a Metal Gear game in almost every way possible. Sure it's not Snake, but it's an excellent side story revolving around Raiden and how he becomes a Cyborg and gets his suit (amongst many other developments). That story element is actually eliminated pretty early, as the rest of the story includes giant plot swings and a good flow that definitely makes it feel like a Metal Gear game. There are a good amount of cut scenes, too, but no 30 minute ones.
If you are accustomed to hack and slash games (Devil May Cry, God of War, Bayonetta) then you know that you take on generic henchmen/jobbers in order to get to a boss fight. That's not necessarily the case with MGR. Almost every encounter feels like a boss fight, and most will involve strategy to take down whatever new enemy the game throws at you. The strategy isn't "aim for this one spot and press the corresponding button and do that 3 times." You will have to find a way in against bigger foes and get the hits that you can. It's also not to say that there aren't corresponding button presses, there definitely are. To see that pop up after a tough battle is a huge relief. You try to work on certain areas of enemies such as arms, legs, torso, and shields. There are no health meters for the enemies, so instead the area will light blue to let you know when it's getting weakened so you can focus on that area. This game is very difficult and you will die. It's not Dark Souls hard, but the game does actually pose a challenge that involves trial and error, and also building confidence.
You will fill fuel cells that will allow you to slow down time to work on an enemy. What's cool is you can use the right stick to do this manually, or use the weak or strong attack buttons as well. Eventually a red target square will show up and when you hit that, you will be prompted to press a button and you can absorb the inside of your enemy, which in turn refills your fuel cells and health. You will also earn points from doing this, as well as from kills, to help upgrade Raiden's weapons and body. Combos are also a part of what you can purchase, and unlike some other titles, they do not feel forced or extremely difficult to pull off. At the same time, you will find yourself using the slowdown option on opponents more. However, if you are just taking on some police or smaller enemies, then it's a good spot to use these combos.
The controls are extremely tight and responsive, however what little flaws this title has comes from the controls. It's not like DMC where you input combo commands and it seems like there’s a delay. The button input is instantaneous and fast. Holding R1 allows you to do a “Ninja Run”, and this poses one of the problems. For any platforming elements, this basically eliminates them. This allows you to sprint and jump over everything automatically. The pace can be a bit much at times if you’re trying to straddle a small plank to sneak across an area. There’s also no crouch option. Yes, the game has the stealth element that makes the Metal Gear series so great. However, the only option to sneak up behind someone is barely walk or sprint. MGR also lacks a block button. For defense, you are required to aim in the direction your opponent is attacking you from and hit the weak attack, which will allow you to parry and counter the attack. This is difficult to pull off and some enemies you can't parry. My biggest gripe, however, is the camera. The camera can make a lot of encounters very difficult because of two reasons. The first is that the camera remains zoomed in too much. Platinum Games needs to consider some sort of auto zoom for some encounters or a fixed camera from a distance. The other major issue is that it always tries to auto correct itself and face forward. This is very much a pain if you are trying to scale a wall and creep by while looking at an enemy.
As I mentioned earlier, this is a Metal Gear game. If an enemy sees you, you will be put on an alert and caution timer. It’s not as easy to get away and hide, but it does work at times. Using barrels and boxes to hide, it feels very much like the series in terms of that. The game might not seem this way early on, but it will eventually get to this point. It’s also not a complete streamlined experience. There are different routes and secret areas, not to mention unlocks for VR Missions. Every encounter is something special, but there are actual boss fights that live up to the Metal Gear tradition. Interesting characters with different characteristics help build the climax of each chapter.
MGR is almost a photo-realistic game. It’s an improvement to MGS4, and you will see a few textures that aren’t great here and there. For the most part, the lighting and character models are stunning. Most everything in the environment is destructible. The game is also extremely gory, however it’s almost artistic. Seeing death in this game is a thing of beauty, especially when it’s a stealth kill from behind. The blood, itself, will keep you coming back for more. The game runs at a smooth 60fps and does not drop. This game is everything you would expect from this engine on this generation.
The sound and voice acting is everything you would expect. The voice of Raiden is reprised by Quinton Flynn, who previously has done the voice. The soundtrack is more than fitting for all the situations in the game.
MGR doesn't force you to come back and play through it like some games. DMC very early on would show you blocked areas you couldn't access unless you came back to them after a play-through. Replaying the game will only make you much better at it. Include that with the VR Missions that you will find along the way, and there is enough to keep players occupied. There's no online modes, but I do not believe this is needed. I could definitely see future iterations of this title incorporating some sort of online element.
MGR: Revengeance has turned into one of my favorite games in recent memory. The responsive controls, excellent visuals, and the fact it's the Metal Gear universe provides possibly the best hack and slash experience of all time. This should develop into a successful spin-off series as Kojima hit a home run with granting the chance to Platinum Games.
Graphics: 10 - This engine still looks marvelous. The character models, lighting, and the fact the game runs at 60 fps, this is one of the best looking games this generation.
Sound: 10 - Excellent voice acting as usual for this series. An epic, fitting soundtrack. All this helps add to the overall experience.
Gameplay: 9 - Fast and responsive controls help make this one of the greatest hack and slash titles of all time. The camera is definitely an issue that needs to be dealt with.
Replay: 8 - There is only so much replay value you can include with these types of games. VR Missions are there to unlock and play through. On top of that, the game is enjoyable enough to play multiple times.
Overall: 9.5 - MGR: Revengeance isn't Metal Gear 5, but it definitely feels like part of the family. There's an equal share of fast action and stealth action. The game is extremely difficult, meaning, it will take time to get through this game. It's a very enjoyable experience and should not be overlooked or forgotten about for GOTY awards.