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Review - Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance


Metal Gear Awesome

Ten years ago if you would have told me that Raiden, the protagonist from Metal Gear Solid 2, would someday turn out to be more badass than Devil May Cryís Dante I would have laughed you clear out of whatever building we were in.

Yet here we are; Raiden has taken his place among the pantheon of great action characters - and even manages to make cyborg stilettos not look completely stupid.

Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance is a Platinum Games hack and slash title set in the Metal Gear universe (obviously). It features Raiden, the main character from Metal Gear Solid 2 who was relegated to a supporting role in Metal Gear Solid 4 after being transformed into a badass cyborg ninja.

MGR plays like a midway point between Devil May Cry and Ninja Gaiden, but at the same time is a bit of a different beast from both of them. Gameplay in MGR revolves around being an efficient murder machine and the combat in MGR is fairly suave and graceful in a way that befits a cyborg ninja. The game also focuses a lot on a parry system which is performed by hitting the light attack button and moving the left joystick towards your enemy simultaneously, think of it like how Soul Calibur parries work.

The parry itself has a fairly large window for deflecting incoming attacks, so prematurely activating your parry will still usually reward you with a successful deflection of your enemies attack. However timing parries near perfectly rewards you with the chance to perform an execution maneuver on a foe, which is effectively a very brief quick time event that allows you to finish off your opponent. Timing a parry appropriately will also stun any enemies who are also in the immediate vicinity of you, giving you an ample opportunity to finish off multiple foes simultaneously.

Mastering the parry system isnít entirely necessary if youíre on normal mode & are only concerned with beating the game. However, if you want to challenge the gameís harder difficulties or want to get the highest ratings possible on each mission then learning the parry system will be vital.

Youíll also gather secondary weapons such as rocket launchers, grenades, or homing missiles during the course of the game as well. Normally you wonít need these weapons very often, but theyíre useful when taking on aerial enemies or when you want to do a little crowd control. After defeating the main bosses of the game, known as the Winds of Destruction, youíll also get their weapons as well (dubbed unique weapons) and when equipped theyíll take the place of your heavy attacks.

These unique weapons are quite interesting and useful; however I honestly didnít use them as much as I probably should. This is primarily because MGR doesnít have any real time weapon swapping option similar to Devil May Cry 4 or Bayonetta. Weapon switching in MGR is handled by activating a sub-menu via the d-pad and navigating to the appropriate weapon, similar to a traditional Metal Gear title.

Iím a bit torn on whether or not Iím a fan of how switching weapons is handled. On one hand, it forces you to plan ahead a little bit instead of just rushing in headstrong. Plus, swapping in this manner is rather in line with typical Metal Gear titles. However, it seems like there would be more depth to the combat if I could quickly summon my polearm or sai at will.

But donít let my previous sentence fool you, thereís plenty of depth to Risingís combat. The way combos can be strung together in this game is fantastic. There are a lot of small nuances to learn in order to become the most efficient ninja possible. For a quick example, I discovered that if I do a dodge mid-combo, I continue the combo upon completion of the dodge. I shouldn't go super far into the details of what makes this game's combat so fun, this review's already long enough.

Another aspect of Risingís combat is blade mode. Itís an ability that slows time down to a near-stop and allows you slice at your opponents at will. This is used in two primary ways throughout the game, the first being to disable enemies (such as dismemberment or destroying armor). After enemies take certain amounts of damage their limbs or chunks of armor will turn a blue color, this is the signal that said item is now vulnerable to being sliced off. I found this to be very helpful when managing large crowds of enemies, as sometimes disabling a foe is more efficient than trying to finish him off entirely when there are bigger fish to be fried.

The second use of blade mode is to perform a ďzandatsuĒ. The zandatsu is when you slice open a specific area of an enemy in blade mode thatís marked with a red square. This exposes the enemyís ďcoreĒ and allows Raiden to grab it in order to recharge his fuel cells and health. The in-game explanation for this is that Raidenís body needs electrolytes in order to maintain itself, so I just pretend that every bad guy in the game has a spine made of fluorescent Gatorade.

Iím a big fan of the zandatsu because it effectively turns all of your enemies into walking health items, and because of that it encourages you to stay on the offensive instead of hiding behind a corner and then healing yourself. It actually reminds me of how executions healed you in Warhammer 40,000: Space Marine, another game I'm super fond of. Since health items can't be bought at all in this game mastering the zandatsu becomes vital in order to stay alive, especially in the later levels of the game when the in-level health item drops become even less frequent.

I should also make note that this game does have a camera that gets a little crazy from time to time. But truth be told MGR has the same camera issues that a good deal of other action titles tend to have as well. If you use your lock on appropriately you can dance around these issues fairly easily I found out. Oh, and also try to not get pinned near a wall (which is something you should be avoiding regardless of camera issues).

The amount of enemies to fight in MGR is adequate. I do wish there were a few more different types of enemies, however I definitely didnít feel as if MGR was too short on the enemy count. There are typical cyborg soldiers, plus variations of them that will carry hammers, katanas, riot shields, or be airborne. The Gekko & Dwarf Gekko from Metal Gear Solid 4 both return as well, along with a few other bipedal robots for you to slash away.

Along with the typical grunts, the game boasts a series of bosses that are absolutely fantastic to fight. Iíve said multiple times in the past that the best bosses almost always seem to be humanoid, MGR continues to prove that right. These are probably the best bosses from any Platinum title thus far and are some of the best bosses in Metal Gear overall. No, they arenít going to surpass the likes of Psycho Mantis or The End, however theyíre still plenty memorable.

Rising is a plenty challenging game. I will say that I thought Normal mode was a tad on the easy side, however there were still moments on that difficulty where things managed to get a bit out of hand and send me to the game over screen. So for an action game veteran like me, that's a good sign. If youíre somewhat new to hack and slash games I think normal mode will be satisfactorily challenging to you, but if youíre a veteran to hack and slashers then Iíd perhaps recommend starting on hard mode. Revengeance isnít entirely on the Ninja Gaiden tier of ďcrushing-your-will-to-liveĒ hard (which is a good thing, if you ask me), but itís also not ďbabyís first video gameĒ easy like DmC. The game seems to know its audience and has a difficulty designed for them.

One final note to throw in about MGRís gameplay. One thing Iíve noticed in a good deal of Platinum titles is that they do a fantastic job of making you, the player, feel like a powerful badass the entire way through your experience, and Rising does the same. Other games have a habit of starting you off super powered only to have something happen that causes you to get massively depowered quickly (see: God of War), whereas Rising starts you off feeling like a supreme badass and building things up from there. This game starts with you completely maiming a Metal Gear RAY and only goes up from there.

Metal Gear Risingís story is a fairly straight forward affair by Metal Gear standards. Without jumping into potential spoilers, the main plot of the story revolves around a group of bad guys who are attempting to revert the worldís status quo back to what it was before the fall of The Patriots in Metal Gear Solid 4. In short, theyíre trying to reignite the war economy. Thereís also a subplot involving Raiden accepting his past as a killer, nicknamed ďJack the RipperĒ, whilst also trying to prevent people from going through the same life he had to live. The fairly straight forward story is a bit refreshing, in my opinion, especially considering Raidenís two previous appearances in the franchise came in arguably the two most convoluted entries (MGS2 & MGS4).

Revengeanceís story isnít going to be winning much in the ways of awards, however the story is pretty interesting and did an admirable job of keeping me engaged with what was going on. The writing was fairly tight and there wasnít anything that immediately jumped out at me as a glaring story issue or plot hole (if you guys found any, please let me know). And in terms of being a Metal Gear game, MGR seems appropriate as well. The plot and characters all felt very Metal Gear-ish and nothing that happens in the story really seemed out of place for the franchises universe overall.

In terms of tone MGR is neither campy nor is it really playing anything straight. The story is in that Metal Gear semi-serious style where the people involved in this story seem to know itís a video game to some extent. Things do get a bit over the top in spots during this gameís story, like suplexing a Metal Gear Ray in the opening mission, but when you factor in some of Raidenís feats in MGS4 the stuff he does in MGR doesn't seem out of place.

The only potential con I can really think of for the story is how someone would react to it if they werenít already familiar with the Metal Gear universe. The game doesnít reference past titles that often but it does occasionally throw out quick references to things like The Patriots, which could confuse people unfamiliar with the franchise. A very brief ďpreviously on Metal GearĒ type segment wouldnít have hurt, however if someone jumped into this game unfamiliar with Metal Gear I donít think they would be overly lost and any minor things could be solved by heading to Wikipedia.

The gameís voice acting is admirable as well. Yes the dialogue can get a little hokey at times but the cast seems pretty into their roles and donít feel like theyíre just running through lines off a script. The only character who really bugged me at all was the boy named George (however, the way his subtitles are done gave me a bit of a laugh).

Artistically & graphically, MGR looks respectable. Itís not the best looking game out there but itís definitely far from the worst looking. It effectively boils down to certain textures here and there look ďmehĒ while others look exceptional. Overall it definitely has the look of a game set in the Metal Gear universe and everything looks like how Iíd expect the world to look a few years after MGS4. I was legitimately impressed by how authentic all of the Metal Gear aspects of this game felt. Rising also runs at a buttery smooth 60 frames per second, and only seems to ever dip below 60 when the most rare extreme shit starts to happen (honestly I only noticed like two or three momentary drops in framerate during my entire time with the game).

I need to also comment about the gameís soundtrack quickly as well. Soundtracks for Platinum titles generally are pretty good, if not great, and Risingís soundtrack is fantastic. The tracks seem generally guitar heavy with bits of techno mixed in along with lyrical bits as well. In boss fights most noticeably youíll notice these tracks build up as the fights reach their later stages, and it really adds a lot to the atmosphere of the game as a whole.

The gameís length has been something thatís been mentioned in a lot of reviews and comments as well. Assuming you donít skip cutscenes, this game is definitely longer than 5 hours and anyone who tells you otherwise is blatantly lying to you. My first playthrough of this game was about 8 1/2 hours in length, and I still didnít listen to a large amount of the available codec conversations. Watching all of the cutscenes, listening to all of the codecs, and playing the actual game will run you about 9 hours if not a little more, which is (kind of sadly) still longer than a lot of other games out there right now. The in game timer for Revengeance doesnít include time spent watching cinematics, listening to codec conversations, or even deaths/continues. And trust me, this is very much a Metal Gear game in terms of having a lot of exposition in its cutscenes.

If you skip cutscenes and try to speed run your way through this game, yes obviously the game is going to feel short. But you know what? What game doesn't feel short when you try your hardest to get it done as fast as possible? I can beat Metal Gear Solid 4 as fast as I can beat Revengeance, if I really try.

In general Revengeance is a game thatís a little rough here and there, but overall has such a raw addictive fun factor to it that those small items get overshadowed pretty easily. When I wasnít playing Metal Gear Rising the main thing on my mind was ďgod damnit I really want to be playing Metal Gear RisingĒ, and I was genuinely excited to come home and play the game. Thatís a feeling I very rarely get from a lot of modern video games, and itís a sign for me that said game is doing something very well. This game made me feel like a kid again while playing it, and thatís a compliment I very rarely throw around (partially because Iím not even 30 yet and I donít like using sayings that make me sound old).

Revengeance is pure challenging fun, its story and characters are likable, has a ton of replay value in terms of unlockables and VR missions, and still has the soul of a Metal Gear game. Platinum Games is a studio Iíve liked for a while now, but this game may have officially vaulted them up into the upper echelon of my personal favorite developers. I truly do hope we get a Revengeance 2, because this is a spin-off series that I really want to see continue onward.

Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance reminded me why I love video games.

Score: 9/10

Really, if you have any interest in this game at all then buy it.
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About Sephzillaone of us since 9:27 AM on 07.15.2008

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Who am I? I'm a guy who plays video games, talks way too much about comics and movies, likes Godzilla and Robocop. Why should you read my blog? Because when I write I have fun, make up bullshit lists, and when I do get a little serious with some blogs I try to be insightful and use resources and facts to try and back up my opinion as much as I can. And if you don't follow my blog, I'll send you a picture of a sad kitten who wants some love.

Also, I tend to debate a lot and get up on a soapbox a bit from time to time. I like to debate for the sake of debating and I tend to find it fun to get other peoples perspectives on things, and sometimes I like to play devil's advocate a bit just for the sake of it. Basically, don't take me so serious sometimes even if it seems like I am being serious.

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