When Platinum games offers a Metal Gear spinoff involving a laser-sword-juggling pseudo-philosophical cyborg complete with a wise-cracking robot dog sidekick to boot- “bat shit crazy” are the words that come to mind. Whilst not adhering to the Metal Gear stigma of hiding in dingy rust-dilapidated lockers and barking an over-the-top cigarette spluttering cough(with Snake acting as a walking PSA message) most deem as gospel; Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance delivers a smooth, empowering and at times bizarrely humorous (ala the original MGS series) experience of hack-and-slash action sprinkled with small remnants of the classic sneak-essence of the original series, layered with carpel-tunnel inducing Boss battles and held together with the rewarding gung-ho satisfaction of shredding your opponents and obstacles into a fine dust. The experience in its entirety unfolds as a legitimate outlet for anyone with a god-complex seeking a healthy outlet.
Whilst it’s generally stated the game runs a short “6 hour” timeframe- this is of course without taking into account the long, charmingly convoluted cut scenes (in true Metal Gear fashion) and the multiple times you’ll no doubt have to “die and re-try” bosses the first time around to analyse their shifty back-handed Machiavellian battle schemes before formulating your own countering chess-master-comparable game plans(brain over brawn is mostly encouraged here); not to mention the countless collectibles(and “BP”) with worthy rewards including new blades, “wigs”(with perks) , skills, weapon upgrades, VR missions plus the more difficult game modes to play. Due to this consideration of replay value and a focus on collect-heavy depth; MGR does in no way feels like a “short” game.
The controls are of a very tight persuasion and alternative between both soft/hard attacks which helps each swordplay skirmish remain unique and exciting when elegantly maneuvering Raiden’s High Frequency blade. The combat is stitched together with the need to rip fuel cells from your enemies by erratically slicing across their torsos in “Blade” mode which adds to the kinetically energetic pace of the bouts; there is nothing like punishing a foe or two after an eventfully trifle clash and ripping out their glowing spinal cord for a bit of that sweet “blue juice”. Despite the refined and tightly designed controls, the “unique” weapons you unlock from knocking off bosses don’t seem to flow quite as well when combined with attacks from your main blade – sometimes jarring a fight by a few milliseconds and leaving you open for attack (a finicky, problematic issue when trying to achieve a cream of the robo-ninja academy crop “S” ranking). This flaw can be easily overlooked considering the heart-palpitating rush of the majority of the larger acrobatic fights in the game, especially since you can always change your weapon load outs to whatever combination you see fit. However the “REAL” and noteworthy issue with Metal Gear Rising is that the camera can only be described as “broken”, there are often times you might lose a boss battle by five percent and just know that it was caused by the poltergeist-possessed camera that sometimes listens and other times has a temperament and a mind of it’s own accord. Although the lock-on in MGR is helpful, how can one parry or counter an attack if the placements of enemies directions can’t even be detected due to a sub-par camera you mostly can’t spin around at free will? Fighting in small rooms is tedious nightmare and the result is borderline enraging in a game where everything else seems to work so comprehensively tight and fairly.
Regardless, the ominously implemented boss fights are generally a tricky array of challenging, fast paced specific actions spliced with patience, timing and shoot-from-the-hip reflex actions to counter the sporadic strikes and purposefully harsh techniques of the bosses themselves; – you may have an “Oh, now I get it” epiphany or two after a series of losses before figuring out the precise method to defeating a boss and pizza-cutting them into shredded bacon bits along with their cyborg upgrade bells and whistles.
The game play switches dynamics a couple of times with a small portion of the game involving an onslaught of enemies appearing one after another on an elevator in function , it’s almost reminiscent of the old school Super Nintendo Turtles in Time elevator levels. There’s also an oddly fitting quirky section in which you control one of the armed ball “Dwarf Gekkos”, it’s kind of strange and off-putting but kind of fun simultaneously. The main “switch” of game play styles is the “stealth” optional segments – whilst oil drums and cardboard boxes make a comically triumphant return, don’t expect the sneaking to be technically up-to-par with the original Metal Gear Solid titles – however, it is nice that stealth is implemented here (most likely to shut-up complaining fans angry about the different tone this spinoff has adopted). For the most part it’s a pretty dumbed down and albeit simplistic version of the sneaking quality fans are used to via the MGS series but it still warrants some extensive box-crawling fun to be had. It also seems that the stealth system doesn’t function to a decent standard – there was a level in which smashing glass wouldn’t get attention from an enemy in the next room but sprinting somehow would. Inconsistencies in the AI turned the stealth option a little sour as one guard simply kept walking into a wall when I threw the cyborg equivalent holo-projection of a nudey-magazine about a metre away from the room’s entrance. Overall, the stealth element is a nice touch and a decent try at keeping the Metal Gear fans at bay but is pretty half baked and left in the shadows when judged next to the action and monolithic absurdity of performing a million and one combo stabs, slide kicks, punctures, tears and slashes on a trouble maker before executing them by way of sword and literally ripping them apart – as this is what Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance is truly about.
Besides a couple of lack-luster saveable NPC’s, a few bland environmental textures and horrible lip-syncing, the graphics are sharp and on point with shiny metallic surfaces, gun metal greys and plenty of neon-glowing lights. Visually it fits right in with the Metal Gear series; even from a design standpoint – this is probably because during the conceptual stages of MGR, “Yoji Shinkawa” the original concept artist/designer from the MGS series stopped by and was unhappy with the way all the project appeared, he decided to come aboard to make sure the game retained a strong “Metal Gear” visual appearance . As a result, the game looks great and projects a tone that helps encapsulate this game within the Metal Gear universe.
Energetically charged pumping electric guitar riffs compliment the main battles and ensure the player comes fully equipped with an amped up demeanour, ready for a war under a symphony where cutlasses replace instruments. The soundtrack is top-notch and mimics the intensity of the missile-hopping, Giant Mech slicing, Goliath killing and sword dueling imagery in motion if stands by. The voice acting ranges from okay to bad; there is a child character who has the voice of a fully grown male, yes- this is nitpicking but it does show at times and can break fantasy to some extent. The sound effects on the other hand are pretty impressive, if you’re a Metal Gear fan be ready to hear the same “alert” noises, bleeps, bloops and chaff grenade “sparkle” sounds you know and love, adding to the overall aura of what makes a Metal Gear game.
Genetic experiments, organ trades, human trafficking, and Illuminati-esque conspiracy theories -yeah, pretty much another sign that this is a Metal Gear game after all. The convulsion unashamedly continues with philosophical and socio-political discussions with vague intellectual waxing on the ideologies behind war and it’s relation to capitalism, complete with references to Richard Dawkins and memes; it’s all here. Will you walk away from Metal Gear Rising with any new found eye-opening opinions? No, probably not, but it’s still always pretty entertaining to witness the circus barrage of random intellectualism’s thrown across the screen. Whilst Raiden (even with his Batman Christian bale croaked-out gravel voice) is a little bit more emotional than Snake, it somewhat works here with the melodramatic theme of his character growth.
The fact is, originall Metal Gear creator Hideo Kojima opted for a Metal Gear spinoff that chronicled the back story of “Grey Fox”, everyone’s favourite one-man-slaughter house Cyborg Ninja from Metal Gear Solid 1 – but here we get the story of how Raiden went from androgynous prissy -haired stealth rookie to androgynous (and high-heeled I might add) emotional ex-child soldier turned high frequency sword-wielding one man army and ultimate fantastical killing machine. Whilst Raiden isn’t nearly the misstep for a protagonist as some Metal Gear fans might like to think (admittedly the younger people on the team thought Raiden would be a more fitting main character for newer MGS fans) this overall doesn’t really diminish the game itself especially since there’s a DLC for a Grey Fox suit/an awesome “fox” blade available for die-hard MGS fans).
The plot isn’t as detailed nor interesting as say Metal Gear Solid 4 (or as needlessly complex), whilst the characters (even on your team) are not as emotionally engaging, memorable, important or interesting (with the exception of Wolf, your robot dog AI who quasi-learns to think for himself and Raiden’s in-game rival Jetstream Sam) but it does the job given the simplified circumstance; it just isn’t comparable to the depth and magnitude of an MGS character like Dr.Otacon but this may be dismissed as even Raiden can be considered bland by these standards as this is the streamlined, simplified angle that Metal Gear Rising is aiming for- it should be considered as a fun popcorn-action spinoff of an otherwise intricate over-thinking, complex-to-the-point-of-brain-haemorrhaging franchise. Nonetheless, there’s plenty of long winded speeches from bosses with a skip button (thank god) for those of us playing the story mode for the second or third time.
Whilst most of the humour takes place during the second and third chapter of the game, it’s a great relief and change from all the “Nature of war”/”duality of man” talk. With a Vanilla ice reference, Wolf the AI robo-dog grasping the concept of comedy himself and a funny exchange with a couple of confused Mexican townsmen as Raiden attempts to hide his criminal obvious cyborg identity under a poncho and sombrero to no avail. There’s some laughs to be had and a couple of interesting conversational topics over the Codec as well.
Playing as Raiden in Metal Gear Rising is a god-like experience that should brand the title the greatest hack-and-slash of the season. Whilst it never protested to be a Metal Gear Solid game, it does maintain some original spirit whilst channeling the elements from its deservedly well-loved counterparts. While the stealth segments aren’t the most amazing thing under the sun and the camera is one of the worst you could encounter in modern times – it speaks volumes of the action–packed game play itself that it’s still a stunningly adrenaline pumping experience that will leave blisters on your hands, skin marks on your controller, arthritis in the wrists and a sense of battle-torn relief and self-satisfaction after every slice-and-dice packed fight to the death.
DLC’s on the way:
-Blade Wolf DLC
-Jetstream Sam DLC
-Solid Snake Soul Blade DLC