Announced in 2009 as “Metal Gear Solid: Rising”, I vaguely remember much apart from the title and a Über-looking Raiden holding a blue spine or something. All it told me was this game was going to be “EXTREME” Or “BADASS” and that Raiden was no longer that character we all hated back in “Metal Gear Solid 2”, simply because we weren’t playing as Snake. Then the game was rumored to be cancelled and turns out, it was, only to be rescued by Platinum Games, with the game now called “Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance” (Holy Toledo, “REVENGEANCE.” Multiple people approved that title. Think about that. Am I even spelling it right? I DON’T KNOW).
Well, now it’s here - and yeah - Raiden looks awesome and he twirls his lightning sword really good and slices dudes with it all nice and like! Some might have witnessed this new Raiden if they’ve played “Metal Gear Solid 4”, but if not, “Jack” is definitely gone, and that’s probably a good thing. Let’s be honest here, the hook is that “Metal Gear” is in the title, and Kojima was going to continue the series somehow after all that transpired in “MGS4” and “Cyborg Ninja Raiden who slices up dudes with a katana sword” sure does sound cool. So, I can’t really blame ‘em. But Kojima isn’t developing it, Platinum Games is, and their games have been hit or miss for the most part. So, where does this fall? Somewhere in the middle.
“MGR” is set 4 years after the events of “MGS4” and the cyborg technology that had infused Raiden in that game is now commonplace throughout. The PMC’s (Private Military Companies) controlled and supported by the Patriots have now spawned into rogue agencies tied to criminal organizations. With PMC’s employing cyborg's and assassinating political figures. This brings us to Raiden, who is working for the peacekeeping PMC ‘Maverick Securities’, stifling these renegade agencies, or at the very least, attempting to.
Gameplay is a complete 180 of “MGS” as Raiden uses his katana to not only hack and slash enemies, but he can also cut almost anything in the game into pieces. Cars, boxes, support beams, ect. I can say that after two playthroughs, the ability to slash stuff into nothing never became tiresome. The game’s “Blade Mode” made the this more apparent, as players can slow down the gameplay and slice away like there’s no tomorrow - seeing your target literally turn into pieces right before your eyes. It’s just... really... awesome.
Stealth is an option one can make, but it’s so poorly implemented that I doubt anyone would bother with it. The not-so brilliant enemy A.I. makes things especially easy for you, and there are sequences where you’ll have to do some sneaking to advance further, but the game babies you through these moments so much so, that you really don’t have to put any effort into them, other than move the right stick towards a direction and it’s complete.
The boss battles can be varying. I found a couple to be frustrating, while the rest I breezed through. The two I had the most difficulty with (Monsoon and the final boss) seemed designed to make me break my controller. Or it could be that I suck, I guess. About the only thing I enjoyed from the boss battles was the excellent music that accompanied them. Total Japanese craziness is how I can explain it.
Controls can be a bit counterintuitive, the ability to parry requires practice to perform (I died in the first 20 seconds on REVENGEANCE difficulty). This is essential for higher difficulties and requires you to flick the left analog stick in the direction of an enemy and pressing X as they are about to attack. Success will also depend on a sporadic camera that chooses to cooperate some of the time.
Upgrades can be applied at the end of levels using battle points earned from hits and damage given. The ability to purchase a boss’ weapon and use that in the game is a cool feature. The game also happens to be relatively short. I completed it in 5 hours in my first playthrough and 3 hours in my second. I wasn’t expecting 50 hours here, but I essentially beat the game twice in one day. And in true “Metal Gear” fashion, the game has its share of crazy characters, including a Jar Jar Binks-like sidekick who Raiden meets during the game’s second level and never. Stops. Talking.
While I think “Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance” is a bit of a disappointment, the gameplay and callbacks to “MGS” make it a consideration for a rental or price drop. It's interesting to think of what the game could’ve been had Kojima overseen it, but alias this is what we have, and it’s serviceable entry into the “Metal Gear” series.
(A copy of the game was provided for review purposes)