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Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance Review

Slice and dice your way through this action-packed spinoff

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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.

Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance

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.

Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance

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.

Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance

One of the main unique selling points of the game is the so-called Blade Mode. When in battle, enemies (or their body parts) will turn blue after sufficient damage has been done, allowing you to cut them up with your energy sword. Literally. In an impressive feat, the game allows players to slow down time and manually carve up their enemies into bits. For tougher foes, you can rid them of various limbs and thus prevent further attacks. Not only does it work for the game, adding a mechanic not seen before, but it looks impressive as well allowing you to create some very fine cuts of material and flesh.

When an enemy is significantly damaged or you’ve successfully blocked an attack, an option to execute them also appears. Here, you must carve up the enemy in a specific part (usually the torso) and extract their spine which apparently contains the elements you need to recharge. It acts as the game’s health-anywhere system, as executing enemies refills almost the full health bar. On weaker enemies, you can enter the blade mode and pull off an execution almost immediately. It’s a neat mechanic that works well enough as a quick time event (of which the game has a few of). Blade Mode and executions do become a bit repetitive by the time you are late in the game, but never lose their usefulness or sheer satisfaction to pull off.

Raiden has a couple of other abilities, but they are hardly game-changers. Ninja Run allows you to quickly traverse the environment and close in on enemies, while special vision lets you scan the level for enemies and items. Throughout the game by killing enemies and performing executions, you’ll earn BP points which can be redeemed for various character upgrades from increased health to new combat moves. It’s an upgrade system fairly typical of today’s action games and certainly helps with the game’s difficulty.

Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance

As mentioned, there is not much Metal Gear in Rising’s gameplay department. The game sometimes attempts to offer a stealth approach, but Raiden is melee-only and can’t even crouch or lean against objects. You get a cardboard box to hide it, but if anyone sees you the entire area becomes alert and converges on your location. Enemy paths aren’t exactly well-designed, so you’ll be spending a ton of time just waiting for the right moment to proceed. In other words, it’s not worth the effort to attempt playing Rising as a stealth experience, it was just not well designed for that. The game’s environments are also lacking in variety and detail, while being mostly linear and thus presenting little opportunity for varied approaches.

With that comes an important topic for the game – the target audience. First up are the Metal Gear fans, who will be happy with a refined Raiden character and an extension to their beloved franchise, but that’s pretty much where the positives end. A short game, few familiar characters, and gameplay completely new to the franchise that many may have trouble adapting to. Platinum fans are better off, as they can enjoy solid action and a decent story. Length isn’t too bothersome thanks to the level-based and skill-tracking design, with high replay value for players that are interested. So, as long as you know what camp you fall into and check your expectations at the door, Rising can be an enjoyable experience for everyone.

Our ratings for Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance on PlayStation 3 out of 100 (Ratings FAQ)
Technically and stylistically impressive cut scenes combine with solid voice acting. Not much dialogue or usual depth of the Metal Gear series - though some might welcome this change.
Over the top action at its best with a unique and well implemented Blade Mode mechanic. A definite change of pace that might concern franchise followers, but action fans will have a great time.
Single Player
The length of the campaign is worrisome, but not unexpected from the developers. The story told is rather light but can easily fit into the franchise timeline without incident.
Aside from some framerate drops in cutscenes, the gameplay itself is smooth. Some camera issues.
Fans of previous titles from Platinum Games will be delighted with this effort because it's more of what they've come to expect. And while this spinoff may not please Metal Gear die-hards, it's still a notable entry in the franchise and an attempt to do something new.
Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance
Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance box art Platform:
PlayStation 3
Our Review of Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance
The Verdict:
Game Ranking
Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance is ranked #560 out of 1980 total reviewed games. It is ranked #48 out of 160 games reviewed in 2013.
559. MAG
PlayStation 3
560. Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance
561. Split Second
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Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance
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