System(s): PS3, Xbox 360
Release Date: February 19, 2013
Publisher (Developer): Konami (Platinum Games)
ESRB Rating: “Mature” for Blood and Gore, Intense Violence and Strong Language
There was a time when the future of Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance was in question. Kojima Productions nearly canceled the game because it could not fully realize the kind of blade-focused gameplay it envisioned. It wasn’t until Metal Gear creator Hideo Kojima turned development duties over to Platinum Games (developers of Bayonetta and Vanquish) that Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance was given a new lease on life. As risky as this partnership was, Platinum Games managed to create a fantastic game that Metal Gear fans and non-fans alike can be proud to have experienced.
Lightning Bolt Action
Make no mistake, Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance bares virtually no resemblance to Metal Gear games of the past. There are no overly long cutscenes, stealth sequences are completely optional and getting surrounded by enemies does not mean certain death. Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance isn’t about a ghost of a man who manages to change the course of the world with a few well-placed bullets and an endless amount of luck. You are Raiden, the once-hated cartwheeling protagonist that was introduced in Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty. Raiden was re-introduced as a cyborg ninja in MGS 4: Guns of the Patriots, and was deemed awesome enough to star in his own game. The playground Platinum Games created for Raiden perfectly compliments his style. Environments are open, the scenery ranges from bright and vivid, to cold and metallic and the combat is downright fun. Before I get to the many ways Raiden can destroy his enemies, allow me to go over what Raiden is fighting for.
War Has Changed
If you’ve played MGS 4, you may remember a lot of talk about Private Military Companies (PMCs). PMCs were more or less a bad thing in that game, but Raiden happens to be involved with one himself in Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance. His employer, Maverick, tries to use its power to bring about peace to areas of the world that are filled with corruption and conflict. Raiden prides himself on being the protector of the weak, a man who uses his sword as a tool and not a weapon. Throughout the campaign, Raiden’s beliefs will be tested and his resolved questioned. At the same time, the beliefs of you as the player will be challenged on certain modern issues as well.
Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance is heavy with political commentary that’s ripped straight from the headlines. Everything from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan to the Occupy Wall Street movement are given their own critiques. You can choose to look at this as the writers merely venting their liberal political opinions, but I found it ties in to Raiden’s core being as well. Raiden is standing up for the people who find themselves at the mercy of greedy executives and politicians that will say or do anything to further themselves. Raiden does what many people wish they could do by cutting through the smokescreens and scapegoats, and doing what’s right for people as a whole. He just goes about this a lot more literally.
By the time I finished the campaign, I understood the social commentary behind the story more than the main storyline itself. Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance doesn’t quite hone in on a specific main antagonist from beginning to end. In the beginning, you’ll think the game is giving you a clear idea of who the big bad guy is. But before you reach the end, you’ll realize you never had a clue. The real bad guy is someone you wouldn’t suspect, not because the game did a clever job of disguising him, but because he’s barely mentioned at all. I felt the real purpose for the main antagonist was to satisfy Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance‘s political undertones.
It’s also not that easy to keep up with the PMCs and corporations Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance throws at you. I was pretty sure anyone who wasn’t a part of Maverick was bad, but I didn’t know what made them specifically evil in the first playthrough. One of the only things in the main story that was totally clear to me was presented in the form of a plot device involving children. The reason for helping the kids was simple enough for anyone to understand, and it was the one part of the story I could really comprehend and care about.
So am I saying the story is bad? No, not really. It’s just not all that compelling. I liken it to a summer action movie. The good guy kills bad guys while looking exceptionally good while doing it. The story is merely a vehicle to give the action more substance. And boy does Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance deliver action in spades.
Enter the Blade
The combat in Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance is very well done. Platinum Games used everything that made Vanquish and Bayonetta great action games and incorporated it into Rising. This game isn’t about sneaking around. Raiden jumps into a crowd, slices them into symmetrical pieces and feasts on the nanopaste that powers their cyborg bodies. I can honestly say I never grew tired of the combat in this game. The techniques Raiden uses to dispatch his enemies are exactly how I want my cyborg ninjas to behave. Let me paint you a word picture.
Raiden sees a group of combatants on the field. One guy has a rocket launcher atop a wooden bridge while the others walk in a loose formation down below. The music kicks in. Raiden ninja runs towards the bridge and slices the supports, effectively bringing the rocket launcher cyborg down. Without breaking stride, Raiden baseball slides under enemy #2, sending him flipping into the air. Raiden finishes him off with a strong downward thrust of his sword before knocking enemy #3 off his feet with a well-placed kick. As the last enemy returns to his feet, Raiden enters Blade Mode, slows down time and effortlessly chops him into 20 chunks of cyborg hamburger. The music fades. Battle Ranking: S.
Now is a good time to talk about Blade Mode. You may have seen examples of this in footage of Raiden slicing through watermelons with great precision several months ago. Blade Mode was the most touted feature of Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance from the beginning. It was a major selling point that helped separate this game from all others. Lucky for us, it works like a charm. There are also two variations of Blade Mode. The first variation is performed by moving the right analog stick. This causes Raiden to direct his slices very deliberately. I barely used this version of Blade Mode. It’s really just there to show off the technology. The second variation of Blade Mode is one you’ll use a lot. When Raiden’s energy bar is filled, Blade Mode slows down time and makes Raiden’s strikes much more lethal. Enemies can’t be sliced in half if Blade Mode isn’t activated.
In order to make Blade Mode less of a gimmick, Platinum Games made using it a necessity. Raiden’s health doesn’t regenerate, so he needs to extract the nanopaste (a blue slug-like substance) from enemies he kills. A square will highlight where the nanopaste is located inside someone’s body. If you slice that spot in Blade Mode, Raiden can rip out the nanopaste, squish it and instantly regain his health and energy. Doing this never slows down the combat and ensures you can get through just about any fight.
Like previous Metal Gear games, Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance has four main bosses that are very distinct. They call themselves Winds of Destruction, and they demand you adjust your combat style to defeat them. For example, one boss requires you to use the stick-and-move fighting style, while another boss will make you use your parrying technique often. Successfully beating them will net Raiden a secondary weapon to use alongside his trusty sword. You can also acquire sub-weapons such as grenades and rocket launchers that can be used to employ different strategies. The sword will always be your main weapon though.
There are also large-scale boss battles in Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance. These are among the most exciting to play and witness. Traditional hack-and-slash mechanics are accompanied by quick-time events that show off a lot of flair and particle effects. These moments reminded me of Asura’s Wrath in that I wasn’t upset when epic moments played out with little input from myself. When the alternative rock soundtrack started blaring as Raiden started doing something truly badass, I couldn’t help but think of how much darn fun I was having with this game.
Spoils of War
Each battle you complete will earn you currency called Battle Points or BP. BP is used to customize Raiden’s outfit, unlock combat skills, upgrade weapons and enhance Raiden’s vitals. Naturally, the better you perform, the more BP you’ll get. Many of the unlockables are passive, but the skills need to be equipped in order for Raiden to use them. The skills system was a little confusing to me. There’s no limit as to how many skills you can equip, so I don’t know why there’s an option to un-equip skills in the first place. I also couldn’t find a menu that teaches how to use skills in battle. I found myself pulling off cool moves without knowing how I did it. While the surprise was nice, I couldn’t help but feel I spent thousands of BP on skills I never used because I didn’t know how. My success in combat was never impacted by my lack of knowledge on how to pull off certain moves.
Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance is a Winner
This review is now approaching 1600 words. Believe me when I say the reason why I’m going on this long is because I want to tell you about every single piece of anything this game has to offer. There’s so much about Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance that I thoroughly enjoyed, and I have to bite my tongue to avoid the smallest of spoilers. For instance, Raiden’s blue energy bar eventually turns red for reasons that you need to see for yourself. I’d love to tell you what that does, but the moment leading up to that was one of my favorites. So, I’ll start wrapping up this review by answering by general questions you may be wondering. You don’t need to have played other Metal Gear games to enjoy Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance. The main campaign will take around 6-7 hours to complete, but you can play through again with all your upgraded gear. There are also a lot of VR Missions to conquer if you’re into that sort of thing.
The story is average, but everything else about Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance is downright fun. This is another bloody feather in the cap of Platinum Games.