When I saw the Metal Gear Solid: Rising reveal trailer back in 2010, I was excited. The trailer showed super Cyborg Raiden cutting up everything! It was something new and refreshing to the hack and slash genre all while incorporating stealth into the mix. Due to some internal development problems at Kojima Productions, Hideo Kojima had decided to cancel the project. After about a year or so, Kojima announced that this game was going to be worked on by Platinum Games. The game was renamed Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance. This new Platinum Games trailer showed Raiden cutting people up much faster and the game had a lot of Platinum Game’s signatures like slow motion shots and the characters performing ridiculous feats. At the end of the trailer, Raiden throws Metal Gear Ray into the air, jumps up onto it, dashed along the arm and sliced it away, and finally sliced the arm in half.
This trailer left a lot of Metal Gear Fans speechless and divided. Some, like me, loved the new trailer and direction, while others dismissed this game as not being a “Real” Metal Gear game. Does this game live up the hype that trailer created or is this game just traitor to the Metal Gear name? Let’s find out!
Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance is a 3rd person hack and slash action game developed by Platinum Games, the same company that made Bayonetta and Vanquish. Kojima productions over saw the project and worked on the story for the game while Platinum games focused on the gameplay.
The game’s story takes place four years after Metal Gear Solid 4. Raiden has joined up with a private military corporation, Maverick, and has been doing various assignments that require his special talents. His most recent assignment was to safeguard a Libyan VIP. Things turn to chaos when cyborgs from the Desperado Enterprises attack the city and kill the Libyan VIP. Raiden chases after the Cyborgs, but was easily cut down by Slipstream Sam (Samuel Rodrigues). A few weeks after Raiden’s humiliating defeat, he is given a new body and sets out to take revenge on those terrorist cyborgs.
For a Metal Gear game, the overall story wasn’t that complicated. The story does tap into Raiden’s child soldier past, the ethics and morality behind cyborg soldiers, and the effects of war. It isn’t tear jerking, but the story is entertaining enough to keep players interested to see how far Raiden’s vengeance takes him. The game took me about 7 to 8 hours to complete (this includes cutscenes and retries), so the game isn’t that long. Although the story isn’t as great or as long as a standard Metal Gear Solid game, it does succeeds in giving players a very fun, action-oriented experience.
Metal Gear Rising’s gameplay, at first glance, may look like your typical hack and slash game. You go around as a cool character and slash people up using a combination of button presses. You go through the stage, fight a bunch of bad guys, and get to the boss. It’s pretty standard stuff, but what makes this game different is the Blade mode. Once you have enough energy meter, you can perform Blade mode which slows down time and allows players to freely cut enemies into pieces. Players must use both sticks to aim and slash, but you can slash with the normal and hard attack buttons for horizontal and vertical slashes. As time slows down, enemies also reveal a weak spot that. If the weak spot (indicated by a red box) is slashed, Raiden performs Zandatsu. This is where he rips out the enemy’s spine and crushes it in his hand to recover health and energy meter! This will be your main way of getting health and meter in the game. Seeing him perform the 2 to 3 animations of crushing spines can get a little old after a while, but it won’t become bothersome or tedious at all. There is just something satisfying about rapidly slicing things to bits that most players may find sadistically fun.
This game does have the title of Metal Gear and does make a few nods to its roots. There are a few sneaking sections in the game that force you to walk around enemies, either to save a hostage or to get to another check point. I found these sections to be a little tedious. Thankfully there are only a few of these scenarios and sometimes sneaking is optional. I played the game as if I was playing Bayonetta, so I made a lot of noise. The levels themselves are pretty sizable and allows for some exploration, which will reward you with health upgrades, energy upgrades, items, or extra VR missions. To find these items, players can use the AR mode to highlight enemies and boxes. Raiden also has the ninja run, which allows him to automatically jump and slide around. You can use the ninja run to quickly dash up to a ledge or dash past enemies. This dash can lead into some pretty cool combo moves and makes traversal much easier. There are cinematic quick time event segments which allow Raiden to perform ridiculous feats like running across missiles and piloting a flying enemy to get to a boss.
Speaking of the bosses, the boss battles in this game are the best parts of the game. Each boss has its own unique design and fighting pattern that challenge players to think before they slash. Boss battles can last about 15-25 minutes, but none of these fights felt like a drag. Just like in the trailer, you do fight Metal Gear Ray and finish it by slicing it in half…twice! These cinematic finishers make the conclusion of the boss battles just that more satisfying.
There is a currency system in this game in the form of Battle Points, which allows you to buy upgrades for Raiden for his health, energy bar, and his weapons. You can also purchase new moves and costumes for him too. Costumes and weapons all have to be unlocked by doing certain things in the game, but my favorite costume, the authentic civilian disguise (Mariachi costume) is easily acquired by finishing a certain level. During my play through, I focused more on upgrading his health, energy bar, and sword stats rather than buying all the moves. I did get some essentials like air parry and the air-launch attack.
The gameplay does have its flaws. As awesome as the Blade mode may be, some players might have trouble aiming the sword to make precise cuts. This did become a small issue near the last quarter of the game where precise cuts were almost necessary. This game does not have a dedicated block button. To parry, you have to press up (towards an attacking enemy) and the normal attack button. It was a little awkward at first, but it can easily be mastered because the parry window is large. By constantly parrying, you can block most enemy attacks with ease. Some enemies do have unblockable attacks, but they are telegraphed to give players enough time to react. If the parry window was a little smaller, then this move would feel a lot more skillful than cheap and abusable. There is no dedicated dodge button either, but there is a dodge technique that you have to unlock and buy (something I never actually used). Another issue I had involved the sneaking sections. Sneaking in this game is very secondary and there is no type of sneaking mode that allows Raiden to crouch and sneak about. You just walk or ninja run towards enemies and press a button to assassinate them. There is a lock-on function, but I never had to use it for anything outside of boss battles. Locking on while fighting a group didn't feel necessary. There are also sub-weapons and items that Raiden can get, such as health packs, grenades, and rocket launchers, but most of the time using your sword proves more effective and satisfying. Rockets are good to take down flying enemies though.
Graphically, this game isn’t the best looking game on the current gen systems, but it’s detailed enough to be appealing. The action oriented moments (especially in the boss fights) is when this game becomes a visual spectacle. When you slash an enemy, you see their cyborg blood spew out of them. When you slice enemies, the cuts are all very clean and the game engine can handle players cutting things up into hundreds of pieces. When Raiden crushes his enemy’s spine, you see it glow blue and dangle before turning to dust. The character models for the game are all very detailed as well. You can see a lot of Raiden’s metal parts and wires and his sword produces a pretty cool lightning effect.
When the action slows down and you take a look around the game’s world, you’ll start to notice how average everything around Raiden looks. The environments do fit the Metal Gear universe and scenarios, but they aren’t anything special to look at. Most of the missions take place on streets or in hallways. There is one instance where Raiden visits a Japanese garden. The garden area was pretty and different from previous areas I visited. Seeing Mariachi Raiden assassinate enemies in a Japanese garden was really entertaining.
The soundtrack to this game has made it onto my MP3 player. The music is simply amazing, if you’re into the styles of rock that it gives you. The songs get players pumped up as they fight enemies and bosses. When fighting a boss, you’ll hear the instrumental version of the song, but when the fight is nearing the conclusion the lyrics kick in. At that moment, you feel something. Like a roar of joy and awesomeness. The lyrics for the boss songs actually give some insight to the boss you are fighting, which I thought was very cool. The music for certain scenes and events matched up well with what was going on and added to what was being displayed. I can’t stress how awesome the songs are and how much they add to the fun factor of the game. My favorite songs were from the boss Monsoon and the final boss.
Over all, Metal Gear Rising is a spin off and succeeds as a spin off game in the Metal Gear series. The story and atmosphere feel very Metal Gear like. It has a few Metal Gear jokes and quirks, such as Raiden running around in a box or having players keep a look out for pictures of hot Asian women. As long as you accept that this is a different game from the Metal Gear Solid line, then Metal Gear fans shouldn’t have a problem with it.
If you like high energy rock and high-speed action, then this game is definitely for you. It is short, but don’t let that discourage you too much. It has enough extra content to keep you busy. There are several VR missions to find and complete and several hidden trinkets like costumes and weapons to unlock as well. Like I said before, the parrying could make this game a little too easy and the sneaking isn’t enjoyable, but the rest of the game is amazing and fun.