Originally Reviewed: 2013
All aboard the spinoff train! After troubled development at the hands of Kojima Productions, Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance (MGR) has made a triumphant comeback from the regions of the nearly-dead under the experienced action umbrella of Platinum Games. Platinum’s back catalogue speaks for itself and it therefore comes as little surprise that they have produced a terrific action game set in Hideo Kojima’s universe.
Taking one look at the game makes it immediately evident that this particular Metal Gear title is decidedly Snake-less, as the action (and believe me, there’s a lot of action) focuses on perennial fan whipping boy Raiden. Kojima Productions left the development alone, but were still in charge of Raiden’s look for the game and did as much as they could to make him look and act as badass as possible. He’s still nowhere near as manly as Snake (rocking high heels will ruin most attempts at manliness – samurai cyborg or not), but he’s certainly a lot less whiny than we’re used to.
We see our newly robotic protagonist in an extremely futuristic 2018 where, in the aftermath of the Patriots’ destruction (and with it, their Nanomachine technology), Private Military Companies (PMCs) are turning to advanced technologies that provide the use of cyborgs as veritable super soldiers. Raiden is one such cyborg and works for the PMC Maverick Securities, and he and his colleagues are locked in brutal conflict with rival PMC Desperado Enterprises, who are bent on creating and preserving wars for technology and profit.
Of course, there’s a great deal more to it than one PMC against the other, and soon all number of diabolical schemes are revealed as the battle becomes deeply personal for Raiden and decidedly political for everyone else. It’s not far from your usual MGS yarns about freedom, control and human nature but it also doesn’t take itself as seriously as perhaps previous Metal Gear games would and there’s enough Platinum Games wackiness to keep things from becoming overly preachy. Overall, the story serves as more of a psychological battle for Raiden in amongst a much larger issue, which does a good job of giving players reasonable enough motivation to stick with the character in between all the action.
The action itself is as relentless and brutal as you’re likely to see in a videogame. As is typical of any Metal Gear game, the action is broken up with the frequent and obligatory cut scenes, but there’s nothing here with the extreme length of a typical Metal Gear Solid title. The cut scenes are very manageable, if perhaps a little too frequent for some. They don’t take 30-40 minutes to get through, but at times the game does try its best to break up the action as soon as it gets going.
Once you’re allowed to get back to playing the game, it’s just a barrage of blood, blades and bosses. There are two main attacks available with the X button for the main weapon and the Y button assigned to secondary weapons. Far from a simple hack n slash title though, the game’s USP hinges on the sophisticated Blade Mode, which gives players free reign to slice in any direction they please during this slow motion sequence activated by the LT button. This mode is where the bulk of the brutality happens and it really does never get boring cutting off arms and heads, and slicing enemies clean in half.
The basic combat system is easy to get used to, but without the learned skillset you’ll possess towards the game’s end, it can be a bit fiddly at first, especially with a rather annoying camera that will fly all over the place and a lock-on system that doesn’t often behave quite as you’d like. There’s nothing game-breaking in here, and problems don’t occur often enough to cause a rage quit, but it really could have done with a bit more time spent on it.
I actually found the default control setup to be quite difficult to get my head around, and couldn’t really get to grips with the game without a bit of tweaking. By default, Raiden’s katana is controlled by the right analog stick and the camera by the left stick during Blade Mode. Considering the game’s camera is controlled by the right analog stick in normal play, it’s ridiculously confusing when entering Blade Mode and having it reversed. A quick switch round in the menu system (and a strong decrease in X axis sensitivity) and the game becomes much easier to control.
It wouldn’t be a Metal Gear game, or indeed a Platinum game, without a lot of boss fights. And, man, there are a lot of boss fights. Luckily, the majority of these are very decent and suitably challenging, although some can be rather punishing if you’re going in without any health packs. The boss fights significantly add to the very assured pacing of the campaign, as when you’re not watching a cutscene you will be on a rollercoaster ride of frenetic proportions. From start to finish, MGR is an action game that really doesn’t skimp on excitement and wicked set pieces. The game is very short, but it feels longer thanks to the nonstop thrills and kills.
There are also various VR levels that are unlocked by finding terminals in the main campaign. These provide a decent distraction from the game and can even help get used to some of the game’s intricacies. They can be accessed at any time during the campaign, and you can jump immediately back to the last story mode checkpoint you were at when you’ve finished. They get pretty tough and add longevity to the disappointingly brief campaign. And it’s the length of the campaign that becomes MGR’s biggest problem.
If you think the game’s length has been targeted rather often in this review, then that’s because it lasts less than six hours. You may well have an absolutely awesome six hours, but for a full priced game that has more than its fair share of cut scenes, this is pretty unacceptable. The pacing may be well handled and there is plenty of variety afforded by the numerous boss fights, but this can also hinder the game as it feels like you have very little time to just play the main aspect of the game and get used to it. You’re thrown around so often there is barely ever time to catch your breath and before you know it, the game’s done.
Despite a slightly clunky camera and a disappointingly terse length, Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance is a typically relentless action title from the current masters of the genre. It’s constantly exciting and stupidly brutal, and anyone with a lust for buckets of blood, frantic action and slicing a dude into 100 pieces before crushing his spine simply has to play this game.
There’s an enjoyable, if unsurprisingly bonkers, story in here and a sufficiently challenging campaign with VR challenges and upgrades to add a bit of replayability. Most importantly, aside from a few story aspects, this is a game that people who’ve never played a Metal Gear can easily enjoy and, as such, has to be considered as easily one of the best and most accessible titles in the Metal Gear franchise.
Platinum Games have done it again, as they have produced another breathless and violent action title that ends too quickly, but never lets up during the ride.