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OST Case Study: Metal Gear Rising: Revengance


Developed by Platinum games, Metal Gear Rising: Revengance acts as a side story to the Metal Gear series of games. Taking place 4 years after the events of Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots, Revengance follows Raiden as he fights against the Private Military Company, Desperado Enforcement. Revengance's gameplay is distinctly more action focussed than the main line Solid series, and the music reflects this. The score was composed by Jimmy Christopherson and audio directed by Naoto Tanaka.  The music is more focussed on heavy metal, electronic tracks rather than the soft pulsing tense tracks found in the Solid series. Even though the music is in a completely different style to the Solid series, there are still some musical and gameplay elements which carry through to Revengance, and these help to strengthen the correlation between the two games.  One of the most memorable facets of Revengance, both musically and overall are the boss battles, which provide some of the most pumping tracks in the game. 

Where Metal Gear Solid takes inspiration from spy movies such as James Bond, Revengance references fast paced action flicks packed with explosions and cheesy one-liners, and the music follows this to a T.  During combat, bombastic percussion and distordet guitars accompany Raiden as he carves through enemies. But the sound isn't strictly orchestral, a large majority of the score is dominated by electronic sounds. Heavy electronic drum kits and thumping baselines accompany the more traditional sounds or the orchestra. There's no doubt that the electronic sounds were a very diliberate choice to reflect the game's strong focus on cyborg technologies. Practically every character in Revengance is either affiliated with cyborgs or a cyborg themselves, with some of them just being pure robots. The synergy between electronic sounds and traditional instruments in the score reflects some of the game's underlying theme's well, as the balance between man and machine is constantly shifting . 

But the game isn't in an eternal combat state. There are times when the action is low and stealth and exploration are at the forefront. It's a these moments, when the Metal Gear DNA rises to the surface. Like the Solid series, Revengance utilises a stealth system with Caution and Alarm states along with the default undetected state. When undetected, the music is low and pulsing, providing tension and energy, but not pushing the player to do act out. When detected, the music picks up, and informs the player that enemies are actively looking for them, and in the final Alarm state, the music really kicks off into a full fledged combat track, to accompany the player as they must eliminate the threat to move through the level. This technique of gradually adding onto the score as the gameplay requires it is called a Layered Score. It's useful as it allows the music to change as rapidly as the gameplay does and appropriately accompany the actions the player is taking. But the layered score isn't just used for the stealth system in Revengance, it's also used in the boss  battles. 

Revengance's boss battles are absolutely out of this world. The game itself is utterly ridiculous, with Raiden slicing entire planes in half and using swords the size of skyscrapers, but the boss battles turn all of this up to 11. The music of the boss battles takes the idea of the layered score and uses it in such a way that fits the fights perfectly. As the sequence begins, the music is already pumping pretty hard, but was the fight continues and the boss goes through different phases, layers are added onto the music which peaks when finally vocals are added. Vocal tracks aren't something we hear in video games often, but Revengance uses them as a reward for the player finally overcoming the main adversaries of the game.  These tracks are non-stop walls of sounds and the vocals are just catchy and memorable enough that the player can sing along to them as the final blow strikes and the battle ends. This amplifies the players involvement and allows them to feel accomplished especially in such a cutscene and story driven game. 

Metal Gear Rising: Revengance's soundtrack is truly something to behold. It's full on nature and breakneck pace makes it very memorable. It's twist in genre from the main Metal Gear series allows this game to have a strong identity on it's own while still holding it's ties to Metal Gear Solid. It's unique use of vocal tracks give the player a true sense of involvement in the game and manages to take it's ridiculous amount of action even further. 

What do you think? Did you enjoy the vocal tracks in the boss battles? or did they distract you from the action? Was the Metal Gear Solid balance too strong? or perhaps not strong enough? I'd love to hear your thoughts and experiences with the game.
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About Oscarnoone of us since 5:23 AM on 02.25.2014

Hello I am Oscarno and welcome to a rad Video Game Music blog on Destructoid!

I'm way into Video Game Music, and with these blog posts, I hope to provide an investigation into and discussion about Video Game Music and how music affects video games as a creative medium.

I write weekly, usually posting on Thursdays. Most weeks will be OST Case Studies, looking a the music of a particular game and pulling it apart to find why it works so well. Sometimes, however, I'll just post a shorter opinion post or perhaps an article looking into other areas of Video Game Music.

If you wanna talk to me or follow me on Twitter ,you can.(but tbh it's pretty boring)

Also you can check out some of the music I make on my Soundcloud!