Slicing up a whole bunch of cyborgs is really great, and will make you grin every time you do it, but are there plenty of other things to keep you playing?
The Metal Gear franchise has always had its share of strange villains and flashy action sequences. In the previous games though, most of that action happened in cutscenes and a few larger interactive segments. This time, the action is front and center as you control Raiden, the protagonist from Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty. Raiden is outfitted with even more cybernetic enhancements this time around and is almost more cyborg than human.
From the moment you start playing MGR: Revengeance, you can tell that this is a Platinum Games joint, but you can also still pick out the Kojima Productions influence. It’s a very nice blending of the two different styles and both of their strengths have a chance to shine through. The game leads off with some story sequences where you get to hear some information about the state of the world post Metal Gear Solid 4, then eases you into the relatively simple combat mechanics by having you fight a few small patrols before tossing you into battle against a Metal Gear Ray (a copy of the giant mech from MGS2). This multi-stage battle really shows you what this game is going to be like, while also setting the bar high for the boss encounters that are sure to follow. The flow between mashing out a combo to weaken parts of the boss to then pulling the left trigger to enter a slow mode state enabling the player to slash away at the armor of the Metal Gear Ray has a good feel to it. After you’ve taken out this sizeable foe, you get easily outmatched by the rival PMC (private military company) that sent the Metal Gear Ray after you, and the stage is set for a tale of revenge, or should I say, “Revengeance”?
The game is divided into 7 stages as you chase down the members of the PMC that attacked you, and eventually culminates in what might be one of the most ridiculous endings I’ve ever seen in a video game. A few of the stages are relatively short and seemed like they could have easily fit in with one of the surrounding stages. Overall, the game carries a pretty good pace and does a good job of keeping you interested in the story. The final chapter does a really great job of showing us the styles of the two different companies that produced this game. There’s plenty of talk about PMCs, child soldiers, the Patriots, and all the Metal Gear nonsense you crave. Then there’s plenty of the Platinum games touch to the combat and quick time events that happen during the fight.
Even though the combat is not as complex even as what was in Bayonetta, the parry system in Rising feels so tight that it brings just enough depth into the mix. Combos consist of mixing in heavy and light attacks. Holding vs. tapping the buttons adds some variety to the moves Raiden performs. Once you whittle down the health of an enemy, you see an orange flash. That means it’s time for my favorite part of this game, Zandatsu. Zandatsu occurs when you either parry and counter attack at the correct time, or when pulling the “blade mode” trigger near a weakened enemy. It is in this slowed time state that you use either the right analog stick or the light and heavy attack buttons to slice away at your enemy until he’s reduced to hundreds of tiny pieces. While slicing away like a madman, you’ll notice a red outlined box on the enemy. If you slice through this box, then you will have access to that enemy’s “guts” essentially, and be prompted to press a button to grab those guts and crush them in your hand to refill both your health and your energy gauge to 100%. In my experience, this never got old, but I can understand how seeing the same animations over and over again might bore some players. Granted, the developers did include enough variations dependent on the enemy you’re facing, and his position in the environment that it’s not the exact same sequence every time. Each different type of enemy has special sequences that play out after successfully executing a parry and then hitting the appropriate button prompt, all ending in Zandatsu. The enemy variety carries through to the bosses, with each fight playing out differently enough to show off each character’s various cyborg enhancements.
Rising features an upgrade system that allows you to upgrade your weapons and abilities using BP that you earn from fighting enemies, with considerably more points being rewarded for not getting hit and judicious use of Zandatsu. There are several unlockable costumes and enough upgrades to keep you playing after your initial playthrough. The game is a bit short taking only about 5 or 6 hours to get through on Normal difficulty, which includes watching the cinematics and dying a handful of times along the way. The game tracks your time for each stage, but seems to leave out times for cutscenes and deaths, only counting your best/successful runs through a segment. All of your purchases and upgrades carry over into your next playthrough, which gave me enough reason to keep going. The achievements/trophies also help with this, because some of them are just too insane for you to even attempt without having a maxed out Raiden. There are also unlockable VR missions, which are obtained by finding laptops within the game. Hidden soldiers in cardboard boxes also give you something to seek out on your way, and provide a nice wink to one of the silliest staples of the Metal Gear franchies. These features may not be enough to hold some players interest. That is especially true if you’re coming to Rising just to get the story and play through the crazy boss encounters.
From a technical standpoint, Rising has a few minor flaws, but nothing bad enough to spoil your slicing. The framerate is generally pretty solid (no pun intended), except when you’re having a codec conversation and moving at the same time. Then the framerate inexplicably drops into the teens for a brief second, almost as if the game is loading something. The only other time you will notice the framerate drop is after you’ve sliced something or someone into well over 300 pieces. The physics engine is probably the culprit here as it’s trying to crunch the data for all those parts based on the angles you’ve been slicing at.
After taking all of that into consideration, I still found Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance to be super entertaining. Even as I write this review I’m still itching to get back in there and see if I can improve my rankings on each of the stages, and finish unlocking all of the various enhancements and costumes. I really enjoyed seeing the different styles of Kojima Productions and Platinum Games show through, and they work really well to compliment each other. Overall, Metal Gear Rising turns out to be a very entertaining way to keep players informed on the state of the Metal Gear universe while we all wait for the next entry in the series. It explores some of Raiden’s motivations for doing what he does, and finally lets you control the Cyborg Ninja instead of watching him slice things in a cutscene, and that’s exactly what I was looking for here.
OXIDIZATION LEVEL: 4/5