Metal Gear Rising Revengeance is the Raiden spinoff/sequel to the ever masterful Metal Gear Solid IV: Guns of the Patriots. The game takes place some time after Snake's final mission and puts you in control of Raiden, the unwitting girly hero of Metal Gear Solid 2 who has now been given a badass upgrade courtesy of his new cyborg body. This focuses less on stealth and more on letting the player do a lot of the crazy stuff you see Raiden do in MGSIV as a cyborg ninja. Now onto the important stuff - How does the game do as an action game and as a Metal Gear game?
Metal Gear Rising Revenageance is slick, fast-paced and above all else difficult game. Raiden is given a small assortment of weapons and combos to use that he can use to lay waste to enemies. One very fun mechanic is when you hold L1 to enter a sort of slow-mode and you can slice apart enemies with pinpoint precision. This is used to slice out enemy spines which Raiden can grab and crush to regain health and energy for the slow-mo meter. For the most part the controls work well. Movement attacks are easy to pull off, but the game does a very poor job of properly conveying a few features. For example, it took me some time to realize that my inventory was in mapped to the d-pad which pauses the game and slows down the action. This allows you to use weapons like grenades and rocket launchers which have some use but are meaningless for the most part due to the power of Raiden's sword based attacks. The other issue is parrying enemy attacks is the square button (which is already your light attack button) plus moving the stick toward the enemy attacking you. In easy mode this is far more automatic but it's tough to pull off in the more difficult modes. I feel this should have been mapped to a button. There are some elements of stealth with Alert Mode making its return but is far less significant as the game constantly puts you into high action situations. Stealth kills are satisfying though, so it pays to use the old stealth action approach whenever possible.
The story is just plain wacky. Raiden comes across a variety of bizarre characters including a cybernetic dog, a man who can split his body into dozens of parts, a woman with a million arms and so on. All of this starts with a plot involving Raiden rescuing children's brains from being intitiated into some weird cyborg program and devolving into Raiden rediscovering his "Jack the Ripper" persona that was hinted at in Metal Gear Solid 2. For the most part it's entertaining but forgettable, all minus the final boss who provides some particularly awesome hilarity. Codec calls still play a role in the story and cutscenes, though while not as long as usual Metal Gear tradition, are lengthy and progress the plot effectively. People who are fans of Raiden in MGSIV as oppose to MGS2 will feel right at home here, if not even more pleased.
Sound in this game is definitely a treat, particularly for heavy metal and rock and roll fans. In the midst of all of the combat and particularly during boss fights, the soundtrack sports mostly metal music with chugging guitars and fast paced solos that blends rather perfectly for the hardcore action in the game. The sound design such as the weapons swishing, guns firing and deflecting all sound fluent and believable. And of course the game has the classic Alert sound. Can't have Metal Gear without that.
One interesting aspect of the game is its ranking system. Every battle will score you on your performance, such as the amount of hits you dealt, whether or not you took damage or initiated Alert Mode, etc. This can provide players incentive to increase their skill and replay levels for higher scores. There is, in true Metal Gear fashion, also VR missions to further expand the gameplay. So there is a large degree of replayability. The game is fairly short. You will beat the story mode in a around four to six hours and the DLC story missions within an hour or two.
Overall while the experience is brief, it is very fun and very replayable. Learning combos is fun to do and the world and story is entertaining enough to ant to bask in its insanity. The whole thing was a joy and I do hope to see Platinum and Kojima do a sequel in the near future and expand further on Raiden's abilities.