Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance

ESRB:M
ONLINE:No Online Play
INSTALL:Yes [Mandatory - 2.1 GB]
RELEASE DATE:February 19th, 2013
PLATFORM:Playstation 3, Xbox 360
PUBLISHER:Konami
DEVELOPER:Platinum Games & Kojima Productions
ONLINE PASS:N/A

A Quick Intro

So, to mark a new direction for me, and a bit of an update to the site [New logo, new feature] – it’s time to review a brand-spanking new title! I spent some quality time with Metal Gear Rising over the last few days, the first of hopefully many more Day 1, new release reviews I hope to write. A major thank you to Konami/Platinum Games for providing me with a copy of the game.

One other note: This review is based on the Playstation 3 version.

So, without much further ado, here’s my take on Kojima Productions/Platinum Games tale of revengeancery. [Seriously, guys – what the hell is Revengeance?]

Story

Set 4 years after the events of Metal Gear Solid 4, the story follows Raiden ( Quinton Flynn ), who has now been contracted for VIP protection, military training, and other duties by a Private Military and Security Company (PMSC): Maverick Security Consulting, Inc., an American PMSC based in Colorado, in a developing country piecing itself back together after a bloody civil war.

Raiden largely did this to support his family without having to return to direct combat situations – mainly because it’s very difficult for someone like him [A cyborg, with artificial parts] to find normal work.

Raiden is protecting a VIP, when they are attacked by a cyborg organization led by the Cyborg Ninja Samuel Rodriguez, that leaves Raiden with a broken body, completely defeated. Raiden is reconstructed by his PMC, and his search for Samuel and the company he’s working for, Desperado Enforcement LLC, drives him into a story of vengeance and revenge.

Raiden has the support of 4 others during his mission – Boris Vyacheslavovich Popov: President of Maverick Security, instructor and mission controller of Raiden; Courtney Collins: A data analyst, and Rising‘s equivalent of Mei Ling/Para-Medic; Kevin Washington: A military advisor and, along with Courtney, offers support to Raiden during his mission. Finally, there is The “Doktor”: Raiden’s science technology advisor. He also offers Raiden upgrades to his cybernetic body and weapons.

Meet The Team

Meet The Team

In true Metal Gear fashion, the members of Desperado, LLC are extremely powerful, relatively psychotic individuals with a penchant for making you dead. Just like Foxhound, Dead Cell, The Cobra Unit and The B&B Unit of games past.

I can’t say too much on the story – I don’t want to spoil it, suffice to say that, while it isn’t quite as good as other Metal Gear stories, it does feel like a Metal Gear title. This is mostly thanks to the writing of Etsu Tamari, and overall Kojima Productions heavy involvement with the story. Rising is much heavier on the action than previous games in the series, but the story does hold a decent amount of play time as well – it’s just not at the forefront.

He meets one more person late in the game, but they would kind of be a spoiler, so I can’t say much on them. That said, their appearance was confirmed a while back, so it’s not a huge surprise.

While there are cutscenes, and they are fairly lengthy sometimes, they are never so long that you feel like you’re watching the game more than playing it. A lot of the story is delivered in game, through the CODEC or through real-time, scripted events – this makes Rising flow much better than previous Metal Gear titles.

The ending moments, during the final boss, however [Don’t worry, no spoilers, because it’s awesome.] – that is DEFINITELY Platinum at work. Almost like someone on the team said, “OK guys, that’s enough Metal Gear, can we please now have something insane?”

The biggest drawback of the story? It’s a little on the short side [I managed to complete the entire story on Normal in about 8 hours – I was also kind of blazing through it and not really stopping for much – though, I also didn’t skip any cutscenes. I also died about 40 times.] Short compared to other Metal Gear entries. At the same time, this is a balls-out action game, it can’t stand to be drawn out like a normal Metal Gear title. It’s short and sweet, and non-stop action. [Don’t forget, in Metal Gear Solid 4, if you skipped every cutscene, you could actually complete the game in less than 3 hours. – in Rising, the playtime is mostly gameplay.]

Overall, Metal Gear fans [like myself] need not worry – story-wise, this is a Metal Gear title, through and through – but it’s Metal Gear with a heavy dose of Platinum style.

The best part? You can rest assured that it wasn’t nanomachines at the core of everything.

Presentation

The game looks, sounds, and runs great. Far, far better than the demo released recently.

Raiden got a bit of a new look, thanks to events that happen early on.

Raiden got a bit of a new look, thanks to events that happen early on.

I didn’t really notice any slowdown [A hiccup here or there, maybe]. I did, however, have a few moments where the game kind of froze for a second after having it paused for a while. Whether that was a game issue, or an issue with my PS3, I don’t honestly know [My system is kind of old, and the hard drive is quite full.]

Even while cutting objects into itty-bitty pieces, the game didn’t hesitate.

Even the animation work is great, especially in the faces. It’s a much less realistic approach than Metal Gear Solid 4 – facial expressions and combat animations are all over the top, albeit, not quite as over the top as say…a game like Asura’s Wrath, but much more exaggerated than MGS4

Sound wise, it’s great. The music feels like Metal Gear, yet…not. It feels a bit more electronic. In a rather big departure for the series, the boss fight songs all have lyrics to them [Which only kick in at certain parts of the fight, such as when you are close to defeating them.] – the lyrics kind of fitting in with the personality of the character. It’s definitely different from previous Metal Gears, but it feels right at home here. It works, and it works damn well.

Overall, the game looks and sounds amazing – I dare say it’s Platinum’s best looking title as well.

One thing I didn’t quite like, though, was that the cutscenes – the actual, story based cutscenes – were pre-rendered. They look amazing, don’t get me wrong, but I’m used to Metal Gear using the in-game assets for all of the story. Those scenes that DO use the in-game engine, look absolutely stunning.

Gameplay

Another high point of the game.

Not much has changed from the demo, but it feels much more refined now. Much more polished.

Combat is frenetic and stylish – it’s quite a spectacle to watch. Raiden dashes around, slicing and dicing everything in his path like some kind of hyper violent ballet.

It's like a slasher movie and Swan Lake had a baby.

It’s like a slasher movie and Swan Lake had a baby.

There are a lot of moves at Raiden’s disposal. He’s no Devil May Cry Dante, or Bayonetta, but he has a decent arsenal.

There are quite a few weapons in the game. The standard HF Blade that you start the game with, and use for pretty much the entire game, as well as 4 boss weapons – Mistral’s Pole-Arm, Monsoon’s Tactical Sai, Sundowner’s Pincer Blades, and Sam’s Murasama – another, more powerful HF blade.

There are also weapons that you can unlock by completing certain tasks, like finding all of the Cyborg left arms.

The pole-arm is the secondary weapon I went with fora majority of the game – it fit my play style the best. It has very fast, combo heavy attacks, long reach, and deals decent damage. The Sai I didn’t use much, but I can see some potential in it. It has a very long reach, and pulls you in to an enemy – like a grappling hook – and sets you up for a quick Blade mode attack on the enemy.

The Pincer blade is the weapon I had the least use for. It is probably the strongest weapon in the game – but it is also painfully slow. It does have pretty good reach, and the damage it does is immense, but it’s speed was just off-putting.

The Murasama is basically just the HF blade, but stronger. It’s attacks are the same as the HF blade [Whatever you’ve unlocked with that blade, are usable with the Murasama.] There’s plenty of choice here, and you’re sure to find something to suit how you play – though you’ll certainly be using the main HF blade most of the time.

Control wise, the game is tight. It feels even tighter than the demo. Attacks are responsive, Raiden controls fluidly and it just overall feels nice. If you ever die in this game [And trust me, You. Will. Die.], it’s never the fault of the controls – though the camera can be a little finicky in some instances, it never caused me to die.

The enemies beating the living hell out of me did.

Rising is certainly a challenge. I recommend starting the game on Easy and playing through at least once before tackling the higher difficulties. Unless you like a challenge, of course – then by all means, start on Hard. The game will give you a run for your money. And you will like it.

You can also use stealth if you wish – even avoiding entire fights at times. However, it’s far more fun to just go in and kill everything.

Mistral, one of the first bosses you face off against, and who's weapon you'll find the most useful.

Mistral, one of the first bosses you face off against, and who’s weapon you’ll find the most useful.

Blade mode is the most fun part of the game. This allows you to “cut what you will” with the use of the right analog stick. To use Blade mode, you need Fuel/Energy. When the meter is full and blue, you can activate Blade mode and time will slow down. At this point, you use the right stick to aim your blade, and slice up whatever you’re aiming at.

Standard cyborg enemies can be dismembered instantly, but other enemies will need to be weakened first. You’ll know they’re ready for their surgery when their limbs gain a bluish glow, it’s at that point you can give their limbs and body some much needed time away from each other.

There will also be moments during boss fights where you have to activate blade mode. Such as having to slice through large debris that was thrown at you, or getting through one of the boss’ explosive armor.

You can also activate Blade mode by a successful parry [Accomplished by tapping the left stick towards the attacking enemy and hitting the light attack button [Square on PS3, X on 360]. Done correctly, you’ll have a chance to activate Blade mode.

You will also have a chance to perform a special attack on stunned enemies. This is a prompt that shows up on screen – much like Bayonetta’s “Torture Attacks” – hit the buttons on screen and Raiden will perform and attack that leaves an enemy ready to be julienned.

While in Blade mode, you might notice a red box highlighting a spot on the enemy – this signifies the “ideal cutting location”. Cutting an enemy here will expose their..well..glowing blue spinal cord. If done successfully, a prompt will appear. Hit it, and you’ll rip it out of their body, and absorb it’s energy into yourself – healing you, and replenishing your Fuel Cells mid fight. This is a “Zandatsu” – literally “cut and take”, or, as the game calls it “stab n’ grab”. You’ll find yourself doing this quite often, as it can be a lifesaver in a tough battle and you’re out of healing items.

Some enemies also have special Left Arms which contain confidential data. Collecting these can unlock special items for Raiden to purchase from the Doktor – things like the Infinite Wig.

One feature that wasn’t present in the demo is “Ripper Mode” – unlocked later in the game, this mode sends Raiden into overdrive, for lack of a better word. While active, your fuel cells will drain at a steady rate, Raiden glows red, and every hit is more powerful, and dismembers enemies as if you were in Blade mode..

It can be used at any time, so long as your fuel cells are completely filled [Signified by a red glow instead of blue], and is activated by pressing in both sticks [L3 & R3].

It comes in handy during difficult battles against large groups of enemies as it allows you to dispatch them fairly quickly.

I kind of like the game’s UI, as well. I especially like the way it moves slightly as you rotate the camera – giving it a feel of being parts of Raiden’s “AR” view.

The game starts out with an interface much like that of Metal Gear Solid 4. This doesn’t last very long, however, and once the first mission is over, the HUD switches to the interface seen in the demo. It’s overall much nicer to look at and easier to read.

Health, Energy and currently equipped recovery item are displayed in the top left corner, your currently equipped sub-weapon and ammo count in the bottom left, Soliton radar in the top right.

It’s all easy to see, and gives just enough information without being overwhelming. Although, I can see some of the text possibly giving owners of an SDTV still, problems. It’s kind of tiny, although nothing too important suffers from this.

At the end of every fight, you earn “BP” or “Battle Points” – you can spend these on upgrades and other customization options for Raiden – new costumes, new attacks, weapons, life and energy upgrades. You also earn BP during fights – killing enemies or dismembering them properly in Blade mode. As well as for extra items you pick up past your maximum [IE: If you have 5/5 Homing Missiles and pick up another – you’ll sell the extra off for BP]

Enhanced AR mode – activated by tapping Up on the D-Pad – allows you to survey the area. It shows enemy locations [Through walls, even], and items in the environment that can be cut with your blade – enemies are highlighted in a reddish-orange, cuttable objects are highlighted in a light, blue glow [Much like enemies when they are ready to be cut]. It also shows the location of item boxes, and the distance to your objective.

There are also VR Missions included in the game. Like the Metal Gears before it – these range in difficulty from “Was I even trying” Easy, to “Why are you doing this to me” “Revengeance” difficulty.

The VR missions are unlocked by finding data terminals in the story. Once accessed, the mission is unlocked for you to play – either via the CODEC [which will stop your game and restart you at your last checkpoint], or through the main title menu.

Completing these can unlock items, such as new bodies for Raiden than have different properties from your normal one [For example, the “Red” body offers lower defense, but better Fuel absorption].

Cutscenes can be skipped, a-la Metal Gear Solid 4, and CODEC conversations can be fast-forwarded. This is a welcome update from the demo, as you will likely die often, and CODECs being unskippable could get tiresome, quick. Andthere are a lot of them. A lot.

All in all, Rising is an enjoyable gameplay experience – albeit, one that will kick your ass on more than one occasion.

Replay Value

There is quite a bit to unlock – Titles to earn [These are the equivalent of the Emblems of Metal Gears past, earned for doing specific things in the game, like completing it withing a set amount of time, or with a set amount of continues.

Soldier ID’s are unlocked with Cyborg Left Arms that you collect.

There are also a set of hidden cyborgs, known as “Men In Boxes” – the name is self-explanatory. They are cyborgs hidden throughout the story mode inside of cardboard boxes. A fun little nod to previous games.

There are 20 VR Missions [25 if you count the Tutorial missions], each unlocked by finding a data terminal in the story – and these are fairly well hidden sometimes. Each having their own separate ranking – and the times are pretty strict on them.

For you trophy/achievement hunters out there – this will be no walk in the park. To earn this platinum/1000GS – you’ll need to hone your skills in the game, and S rank every mission on the highest difficulty level [There is a chapter select, so you can go back an play any chapter you didn’t S rank], earn the highest score on all 20 VR missions – FIND all 20 VR missions, collect every Left Arm in the story, kill basically EVERY enemy you find and more – including special things like cutting off the RAY’s tail in the first mission, or getting through a portion of a mission without being detected. Not to mention beating all of the main bosses without taking damage, on Hard or higher.

Be prepared for a challenge with this one.

The Judgment

Overall, ignore the naysayers. Sure, this isn’t a classic Metal Gear title – there isn’t much emphasis on stealth, the story is relatively short and the writing, while good, isn’t quite as strong as the rest of the series.

But for where it falls short, it more than makes up for in sheer fun. Slicing virtually everything to bits is a blast, and the game itself is challenging, but rewarding when you finally learn it.

The story is decent, the visuals and sound are great, and the gameplay is absolutely fantastic. I can honestly see this being one of my top games this year.

It’s just a bit short if you don’t like to do everything and only care about the story. If that’s who you are, then this game would be better as a rental for you. However, if you enjoy doing all of the VR missions and finding every secret, there’s a good bit of playtime in store for you.

Game of the Year material? Probably not – but it’s a blast none the less.

That sub-name, though – that sub-name still hurts.

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PROS CONS
  • By far some of the most fun I've had all year.
  • Blade mode.
  • Challenging without being annoying. You never feel cheated.
  • Most cutscenes are pre-rendered.
  • The camera is a bit wonky at times - especially in tight spaces.
  • The game has an end.
  • FINAL VERDICT
    Click here or on the verdict image to the left for full disclosure of what these ratings mean!

    About James Headrick

    James is an aspiring game reviewer that plays primarily on the Playstation 3 & 4. He also works freelance as a graphic designer, doing print and branding based design.
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