Slicing its way through difficulties of getting itself to rise through the rubbles of war, Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance is a new high speed hack and slash game developed by Platinum Games and produced by Kojima Productions. The game focuses on main protagonist ninja cyborg, Raiden who is the main protagonist in Metal Gear Solid 2 and appearing in Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots.
With the same character, Raiden coming from the Metal Gear Solid series, there is no connection of the story to Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance. Set a few years ahead of the MGS timeline where MGS 4: Guns of the Patriots ended, the world is highly advanced with cybernetic and nano technology. Straight away you are thrown into a civil war conflict that is in its final hours of obtaining peace before a private military company decides to cut in and assassinates the president of an unknown African country. The story takes a turn for the worse when you are set to seek vengeance on a PMC group known as Desperado Enterprises after being left for dead by a cyborg samurai look alike, Sam. It goes at a steady pace with no real interesting moments to be remembered that leaves you gasping for what will happen next. There will be sporadic moments though where you will see Raiden be in conflict with himself, either to be human and save innocent lives or revert to his dark sinister persona, “Jack the Ripper”, and butcher his enemies.
Story wise, it is straight forward and easy to understand without any complexities to give it substance. It would draw many people away from the game itself if not for its intuitive precision high speed hack and slash elements. Many of its core mechanics come from Platinum Games directive which can be seen from some similarities from their other titles which involve a lot of keyed action sequences or finishing moves. This provides hours of fun while mixing up your swordplay, which you can go into “Blade Mode”, which allows you to slow down time to make precision slashes to dismember certain parts of the enemies, which can then in return let you recover your Life Gauge or sword energy. No matter how many times you use “Blade Mode” it doesn’t get boring because you will find new ways to use it or try to line up a group of enemies to try and kill all in one stroke.
The mechanics are very intuitive and fast but easy to learn after a good 30mins playing. There are some techniques that require mastering, such as the ‘parry system’ where players are not holding down a button to block but rather have to time their keys in response to the direction of the attacks. At first you will be driven mad trying to figure out how the parry system works alongside having no roll manoeuvre to quickly dodge out of harms way. Cleverly that is why it is essential to have both the parry system and blade modes mastered to quickly enjoy the fast pace fighting.
A hack and slash game would not be the same without customisation and Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance offers a list of customisation options, including weapon skills to learn as well as skins. Each upgrade made available can be bought at the end of each chapter or reverted to the main menu which allows players to strengthen their character if they are stuck in a certain area. The points earned to buy the upgrades become a grind when you need to purchase the more powerful upgrades. They can be earned from gathering chips found in item boxes, or taking apart your enemies, cutting them in precise parts to award you with extra points.
Apart from the amazingly cool customisation and high speed precision hack and slash features, the AI enemies throughout the game act like real grunts without any directions of actions besides to provide you something to slash at. This just fills in the emptiness of running about going from point to point within the story but what stands out are the boss battles. Each boss encounter serves as having to utilise all the skills at your disposal and having to think differently. It will leave you either cursing or enjoying at each encounter, depending on your skill level.
Since the game was being developed for over 4 years, with a change of developer in the 2nd year, the graphics seem choppy at times but does well to keep up with the pace of the game. Visually, it’s pleasant to look at but doesn’t stand out too much or make you gasp for more. The only moments where you will appreciate the artwork and visual effects are when you are in ‘Blade Mode’, slowing down time, cutting your enemies to pieces, where you will see the detail of the inner-parts of the enemies.
What makes Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance so appealing and drawn in – is it’s precision high speed action but accompanying it is a very dramatic, high energy soundtrack. Each piece provided sets the mood on how the game is played. Like for instance when players finally get to see Raiden’s dark persona manifest, the music changes to a dark but energetic tempo that makes you want to really rip into the enemy. It really suits the style of how the game is designed and there isn’t any other way to have it. Other sounds accompanying the soundtrack can be the crackling sound of energy emitted out of Raiden as he runs around, or the high frequency blade connecting to metal and flesh. A lot of effort has gone into the sound to make sure it is all crystal clear amongst all the other sounds happening at once, when at points in the game there will not just be sword fighting but also guns and rockets used in the fray.
Overall Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance manages to slice its way through, but keeps your hands intact so you won’t put the control down. Platinum Games has done a wonderful job developing a high speed hack and slash that doesn’t bore you after countless hours of playing. Although the same cannot be said about the story, which doesn’t pick up after it was cut in half in the first two chapters of the game. Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance is a must play, even if you are not a fan of the Metal Gear Solid franchise.
A pre-release Xbox 360 review copy of Metal Gear Rising Revengeance was provided by Mindscape Australia.
Developer: Platinum Games
Release: 26th February 2013 (Xbox 360/PS3)