Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance Review
Slice and dice your way through this action-packed spinoff
Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance is the latest release in the iconic Metal Gear franchise, but it’s a take on the series from a new developer. Originally announced as Metal Gear Solid: Rising, the game went through some development trouble at the franchise creators Kojima Productions and eventually ended up with Platinum Games. If you know anything about these two development studios, it’s that their strengths lie in very different gameplay styles. Metal Gear Rising is very much a product of collaboration, a high adrenaline action game wrapped in the story of MGS universe. Both fans of Kojima and Platinum can enjoy this spinoff title, given that you’re aware of potential caveats.
The game takes place in 2018, four years after the events of Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots. Given the time that has passed, players shouldn’t expect to see many familiar characters. You assume the role of Raiden, real name Jack, who’s a cyborg private military contractor that takes assignments around the world to help stabilize governments and provide peace for the region. After one such job goes south, Raiden and his support team become personally involved and attempt to stop an organization that harvests humans and even children to create more cyborgs.
The story is focused squarely on Raiden, and it makes a lot of assumptions about the player’s familiarity with the character from previous Metal Gear games. Although often alluded to, Raiden’s past as a child soldier is never fully explained to a satisfying extent. Those who do know the history and perhaps dislike the character from his previously whiny attitude will be happy to know that he is much more mature and even tragic in Rising. It helps Raiden be more relatable, even if he still has very odd feminine choices for his combat suit design.
Metal Gear Rising is very much a Platinum game, with the Metal Gear franchise simply wrapped around it. The plot reflects that with admittedly cool and over the top cutscenes, while keeping the chatter to a minimum. Of course, those wishing to dive into the back-story can bring up the series staple codec and talk to team members, but it’s a manual process that’s easily missed. At the very least, everyone’s voice acting is solid and Metal Gear fans who want to hear every line will have a good time. There are also light political undertones and numerous references to previous Metal Gear titles – a nice nod to the series, but no effort goes into explaining these themes or their roots. As such, newcomers will be taken aback by the strong political commentary, particularly late in the game. Overall, it’s a decent story of personal revenge but it is rather straightforward and put bluntly, not a lot happens. Fine for action fans, not so much for Metal Gear followers.
The game can also be considered rather short. Again, something expected of Platinum Games but a disappointment for Metal Gear. I am not a top skilled player but I finished the game in less than 6 hours on the first run – that’s about 5 hours of actual gameplay and the rest are cutscenes. I managed to complete the game on the second playthrough in just 3 hours 40 minutes. Both playthroughs were on Normal difficulty and included a few checkpoint restarts, so my actual gameplay time was probably a little longer. There are also unlockable VR missions to distract you, but with a lack of any online leaderboards, you’ll only be competing against yourself. That gives the game some replay value for those who enjoyed perfecting their runs in previous Platinum games, but most players will say the game is a tad short on content given the full price tag.
This trend of overwhelming Platinum Games influence continues into gameplay. Those expecting any stealth espionage will be bitterly disappointed – Metal Gear Rising is a through-and-through combat action game, very much in the vein of Bayonetta and Vanquish. Given Platinum’s track record of making good with the genre, Rising is no different, with high-paced battles and a fighting system that offers a challenge on Normal difficulty and requires players to be at least decent with action games. Attacking works as expected, with jump, light attacks and heavy attacks being your main combo choices. The challenge comes in the form of lacking a block button – instead, you must use a light attack in the direction of an incoming blow in order to parry it. This takes some getting used to, and the game can be merciless when it comes to being combo’d by a strong enemy. But with some practice, it’s a good system that focuses on melee as Raiden lacks any ranged attacks.
Well, that’s not entirely true. Like in all Metal Gear games, there is a simple inventory system where you can stock up on grenades and various weapons like rocket launchers (that gives you some range options). But these are fairly cumbersome to use, and in a game so focused on melee combat nothing beats Riden’s true mainstay weapon – his energy sword. You could easily complete the entire game (as I’ve done) using nothing but the sword except for some Helicopter sequences. Your movements with the sword are wonderfully choreographed and animated, and except for some camera issues when it is too close, battles are fun to play though. The game’s visuals stand up to the demanding on-screen action without any framerate problems, and as mentioned once already, cutscenes are a highlight.