Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance Of Slice And Zen
This genre is changing. It might not seem like it at a glance, but whatever you call this brand of videogame
, be it character action, brawler, hack-and-slash or anything else, there are subtle but significant changes afoot. And they’re definitely for the better. You see, games like Devil May Cry,
like Ninja Gaiden, have always been defined by two things – their precision, and their difficulty. These were wars of attrition, games to punish the weak; bastions for the strongwilled and patient. With Bayonetta, though, PlatinumGames changed that dynamic forever, and it’s a new tradition it is maintaining with the frankly wonderful Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance
Neither Bayonetta, nor Rising, are hard. That’s not to say they’re not demanding, requiring extreme levels of concentration, aptitude and dexterity, but they don’t feel the need to kick you in the mouth constantly. Whereas games like Devil May Cry 3 and the wonderful God Hand frequently forced you
back to distant checkpoints upon death, these games do not. Where they forced the difficulty to extreme levels within minutes, these games don’t. They’re – for fear of alienating the supposed ‘hardcore’ – more accessible.
And the beauty of that, is, that you’re now given the time to learn the intricate, worldclass combat systems before you really do tackle the extremities of their harder difficulty modes. They’re just more palatable, aware of player’s time constraints, of the distractions of a gaming world that is inundated with other stuff to play and do. Metal Gear Rising
will kick your arse, and take pleasure doing it, but it’ll then pick you up by the hand, nod its head, and ask you to fight again.
So, what exactly is Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance
, apart from another genre entry from the masters of the art? Well, you probably know that you play as Raiden, aka Jack, the once-weedy second character from Metal Gear Solid 2 who forged a new role himself by kicking everything to death in Metal Gear 4. You’re still in the war-torn world of Metal Gears, but there’s no Solid Snake, Big Boss
or Otacon in sight. Instead, you’re teamed up with a PMC, and charged with looking after the president of Liberia.
Quickly, he’s kidnapped and murdered by a cybernetic group of terrorists, and you decide to give chase, uncovering all manner of conspiracies along the way. It’s a fun story, way less talky than mostMetal Gear games
, but just as ponderous. It still rides the line between political soapboxing and anime-powered fantasy, and there are enough familiar names and nods that MGS-heads will feels satiated. It’s definitely a Metal Gear game
. It just happens to be one with a tremendous, unprecedented level of destruction.
Raiden’s sword is capable of cutting through pretty much anything in the world, be it a hapless enemy, a stray car, or even the support pillar of an overhead highway. Along with his light and heavy attacks, he can activate ‘blade mode’ (with a jab of L1) at any time, putting you into an over-the shoulder cam where you can slice in any direction you choose to tilt the right stick. At first, this is a hilarious novelty, and you’ll likely spend as much time slicing weak baddies into little sushi chunks while marvelling at the ingenuity of such a system. Like everything in a Platinum game
it soon becomes a crucial and integral part of the combat. Enemies become ‘sliceable’ when they emit an orange flash, and when you then activate blade mode, a small square will hover over their chest (or equivalent – there are a lot of weird robotic bad guys in Rising).
Slice through that square, and Raiden will yank out their cybernetic heart and squish it in the coolest way imaginable, which immediately replenishes his health and blade mode meters. It’s called a Zandatsu, it’s crucial to the game’s scoring system, and it’s astonishingly satisfying.
In fact, satisfying is probably the best word to describe all of Metal Gear Rising’s combat
. Unlike almost any other entrant in this genre you care to think of, Raiden is not a counter-fighter. He doesn’t lay in wait like Ryu Hayabusa, or slip-and-rip like Bayonetta. He attacks. Constantly. Relentlessly. There is no block button in Metal Gear Rising
, and until you go out of your way to buy it in the
upgrade menu, there is no dodge. There is, quite simply, only a parry. To execute this parry, you have to press the stick in the direction of your opponent and hit the light attack button as they’re hitting you. At first, it’s an utterly alien feeling.
We’re so used to hiding in our defensive shells in these sorts of games that the idea of using offence to defend is almost terrifying. Raiden doesn’t fight with lateral movement, though, he attacks in blitzes, charging through his opponents’ assaults, swatting them out of the way until he can sink his blade into their metallic flesh.
Enemies signify their attacks with a red cross – like a reflection from a car brake light – and it’s up to you to time your parry to stop them. It’s possible to spam the button somewhat and block the strike, but time it perfectly and you’ll be able to immediately set up a riposte and often decimate your foe in
seconds. Do that to three or four enemies in a row, and not only will you feel like the hardest person to have ever walked the earth, you’ll likely be rewarded with one of those elusive S ranks.
Despite the wide range of enemies, Raiden’s ability to destroy rarely falters. Whether you’re battling cyber soldiers, Gekkos, wolf robot things or even giant Metal Gears, you can always do damage with your sword, and there will always be an opportunity to slice and dice in free blade mode. This consistency frees up the combat system to concentrate on millisecond timing and devastating accuracy.
Being a Platinum game
, too, there’s a tidy arsenal of secondary weapons that exponentially increase your attacking potential. For starters, Raiden can pick up rocket launchers and grenades on the
battlefield and use them just like Solid Snake would, although their actual usefulness is limited. Better, though, are the weapons you collect from the game’s startlingly brilliant boss battles.
There are four key encounters throughout the campaign that award you a new weapon, and while we won’t spoil the specifics, we will talk you through some of the gear. The first is a pole, made up from the arms of dwarf gekkos that acts as you might expect. You turn into some sort of cross between a helicopter blade and Kilik from Soul Calibur, basically. Beyond that, there’s a heavy two-handed sword that feels exactly as you’d imagine, and a tactical sai that doubles up as a DmC-style whip, so
you can pull yourself into distant opponents to set up attacks.
You don’t get to switch between these weapons on the fly, so it’s best to concentrate on one that you enjoy and level it up throughout your playthrough. The actual boss fights where you win them, though, are magical. This genre has been blighted with glowing hit-point powered nonsense forever,
and Platinum is quite simply not interested in any of that rubbish.
These are fights against enemies the same size of you and with equal levels of skill. To succeed, you need to concentrate, react and attack with unprecedented aggression and tact. One fight, in fact, could be the best boss battle of all time, from a purely mechanical point of view. And the beauty of them is that you could play them all and not even work out which one we mean.
So good are they, that it comes as quite a shock that the final battle is a bit of a letdown. It’s not a disaster by any means, but lacks the fine-tuned mastery of the other scraps. In a game that’s so well-balanced, it’s a shame that it finishes in a furnace of frustration. Perhaps he’ll make more sense on our second and third playthroughs.
Another aspect that doesn’t make much sense is the game’s fondness for stealth. Being a Metal Gear game, it’s fantastic to see question marks appearing over enemies heads, that familiar orchestral stab when they see you, and even a cardboard box to hide in. You can sneak up on enemies and slash them from behind, and the freedom of movement Raiden has means that it’s never slow. However, stealth is so antithetical to everything the game achieves that it seems mightily strange that the boys and girls at the other end of the codec are constantly encouraging you to either sneak by enemies or take them out unseen. Across the board, it’s more fun to just charge in and kick arse.
Perhaps it’s a narrative pull to make Raiden seem more rebellious, or perhaps it’s just a dissonance in tone. Thankfully, you’re never, ever punished for going loud, and the game never makes it too difficult to do so. There’s actually some fun to be had stealthing, too – even the larger enemies can be silently assassinated, and you can quickly switch to blade mode and hack them to shreds just as you would in a normal battle.
It’s a strangely inconsistent style, though. Atsushi Inaba, the game’s producer (and the man behind Okami among many other masterpieces) has defended the stealth by saying the game would be boring without it. He is very, very wrong. This is combat of the highest order, and we think he knows it. This feels like pandering to the fans of the series. Thankfully it doesn’t spoil a thing. Much like the
wildly inconsistent environments.
The game always looks great up close, and Raiden moves and attacks with beauty, but some of the places you fight through look like they’ve been knocked up in twenty minutes. An entire mission takes place in a sewer with repeating textures, and another in an airfield where every building is the
same. Presumably, a combination of time and budgetary constraints has led to this blandness, as there are sections which look fantastic and full of imagination. Compared to something as blisteringly imaginative as Bayonetta, or the constantly astonishing DmC, it does look bloody awful at times. Ultimately, though, the combat is so good that you could set the game in a white box and it wouldn’t matter.
In fact, that actually happens. Or a yellow box at least. There are over twenty VR missions to unlock throughout the campaign, and they distill the game’s stunning action down to its purest parts without any worries about backgrounds or buildings. The enemy design is brilliant, and the animation and
kinetic charge of the gameplay easily makes up for any starkness in the backgrounds. And we’re not talking God Hand levels of ropeyness here, just not the type of thing you typically see in triple-A gaming.
The real beauty of Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance
, though, lies not in its looks but in its feel. Platinum (and Clover before it) has always excelled at making its games ‘feel’ good – even the sketchy Anarchy Reigns absolutely nails the crunch of smacking someone in the chops. In Metal Gear Rising
you feel sharp and deadly and lightning-quick. The first playthrough feels like a warm-up, too, mere preparation for a run on Hard and eventually Revengeance modes.
It has to be noted, though, that Rising is not a long game. Our ‘normal’ playthrough clocked in at five and a half hours, which you can add 90 minutes of restarts to. Skip the cutscenes, though, and you can probably take them back off. And those cutscenes might be a bit much for people who are more used to action games
than Metal Gear. It’s not as chatty as a Kojima game, but there are some truly awful actors tearing it up in there, and some lengthy talks about weird subjects. If you’re into that world, you’ll probably enjoy it as much as we didn’t, but be warned, if you just want action, you might be diving for the skip function with serious regularity.
For those prepared to look, though, the game is rammed with the types of gags, in-jokes and references that have always defined this series. Platinum has masterfully combined the MGS world, with its melons, codec chirps and porn mags with its own burgeoning universe. There are subtle references to Bayonetta, Okami, Viewtiful Joe, Godhand and even Anarchy Reigns in here, and a whole character who is pretty much a lift from Vanquish. Fan service doesn’t even cover it.
And it’s that commitment to its fans that really defines PlatinumGames
. This is a team that has already shown its mastery and innovation within this genre, and once again it has hit a home run. Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance
is a true beast, a 60fps (bar the occasional dip) warrior that manages to straddle the line between its own genre and the lore of a beloved series with the sharpness of Raiden’s blade. This genre has changed, and Platinum is its master.
Jon Denton10 VIDEO GAME EASTER EGGS THAT TOOK YEARS TO FINDTOP 15 SCARY HIDDEN THINGS IN VIDEO GAMESTOP 15 MOST SCARY THINGS CAUGHT ON VIDEO10 MOST MEMORABLE PRESIDENT TRUMP JOKES AND CAMEOS10 CREEPY VIDEO GAME URBAN LEGENDS