GAME NAME: Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance
DEVELOPER(S): Platinum Games, Kojima Productions
PLATFORM(S): PS3, Xbox 360
GENRE(S): Hack ‘n’ slash, Action
RELEASE DATE(S): February 22nd 2013
Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance is an odd beast. While the name will be familiar to many, Kojima’s Metal Gear franchise has been with us now for 25 years, and in that time it’s cemented it’s place as the definition of a stealth game. However, when Konami announced that Revengeance would be an action title, and that development would be handled by Platinum Games, that made sure people sat up and took notice. Platinum of course have quite the reputation for hack ‘n’ slash action titles, most recently the excellent DmC, so while I’ve never much been invested in the Metal Gear series, I was looking forward to this latest take on the series, hoping it might offer something a little different. I’m happy to report I’ve not been disappointed.
Set four years after the events of Metal Gear Solid 4, Revengeance has a new focal point for our attention with series hero Solid Snake noticeably absent. Raiden, a ninja cyborg last time we saw him, now works private security for a Private Military Contractor or PMC somewhere in Africa, providing personal security for the President of the unnamed State. As we open, the President is celebrating bringing peace to his corner of Africa, but it’s very short lived as a rival PMC attacks his motorcade. Peace it seems isn’t in the interests of everyone, especially those who thrive on war and conflict. After a few brief encounters with enemy cyborgs that help serve as a tutorial of sorts, and the first but not the last epic scale boss fight, Raiden ultimately comes up short against another cyborg ninja called Sam and so his redemption story is born.
The story plays out over seven chapters, and it’s one hell of a ride. Besides chasing down both the PMC and specifically the people who wronged him in Africa, Raiden will also confront his childhood spent being a soldier, while no Metal Gear game would be complete without a potentially world ending conspiracy that the main characters get drawn into and must ultimately thwart. Each chapter seemingly ramps up the action, escalating nicely on the previous, always able to throw just enough at you, both in terms of enemies and events to keep everything moving at a pace most Metal Gear fans will not be accustomed to.
The combat in Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance strikes just the right balance between rewarding those of us who just want to mash buttons, and those who are willing and able to invest the time to nail down the intricacies, especially the parry system, which is vital for later play on the higher difficulty levels. With his weapon of choice, a high frequency blade, Raiden strings together light and heavy attacks to weaken opponents, leaving them open to visceral kills via “blade mode”, where time slows slightly and you can chop them into many many bits before ripping out their spine to recharge your energy. This is known as a Zandatsu kill, and yes, it’s as awesome as you might think. You’ll unlock further moves and weapons as you play through the game, opening up new combat possibilities, including disposable weapons like rocket launchers, but you’ll never want to stray far from your melee combat options, it’s just so much damn fun.
There have been some that have questioned the length of Rising. I’ve seen some who quote total play times of under four hours. For the record, those people are being deliberately misleading. Yes it’s not the longest game, but my first playthrough took me around eight hours, not unusual for an action title this generation. The main problem arises because the game has an in-game timer that tracks your shortest playtimes of each chapter then adds them together to give you a total playtime. Unfortunately, because it only counts your shortest playtime, it completely ignores any repeats you may experience through events like death, a not uncommon occurrence on the higher difficulty levels, especially if you don’t master that pesky parry system I mentioned earlier, along with all the cut-scenes, of which there was always going to be a fair amount of in any Kojima title, even one developed by another studio. So while my total playtime for my first run was just north of four hours, I spent more than double that with the game and I definitely didn’t feel short changed.
Also, a word about the aforementioned difficulty levels. Do yourself a favour, don’t even touch the easy setting. It’s almost an insult to anyone who has spent almost any time at all holding a control pad. Even normal will feel a little easy for experienced gamers, especially if you can nail down that parry system. Fortunately the hard setting provides a real challenge and there is Revengeance mode for those of a more masochistic nature. It considerably raises the challenge to the point where I simply couldn’t progress any further. Coupled with codec conversations to unlock and a host of VR missions that are scattered throughout the game and there is a tonne of replayability here, and that’s forgetting a grading system that’s present in the combat for those who love to chase those elusive S ranks and golden trophies and a host of wigs for Raiden to wear.
Visually, Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance holds steady, with a solid framerate that barely shows any signs of suffering, even when the action on-screen is absolutely frantic. As always with a console exclusive title I am left wondering how much better it could have looked on my PC, Platinum’s earlier game DmC certainly showcased their ability to turn in gorgeous visuals, but there is certainly nothing here that anyone could ever accuse of being sub-par. Character models look great, the action is very smooth for the most part and when bodies start flying apart in sprays of blood and gore you’ll find yourself mesmerised. The audio is also strong, with a pumping soundtrack that matches well with the action on-screen and some great voicework. Presentation is obviously a big thing in any Kojima title and Revengeance rises to the occasion well.
Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance is a great experience at this late stage of the generation. Platinum Games and Kojima have come together well to marry their styles and deliver a game that offers something new for fans of the Metal Gear series. Yes it’s not the longest game, and some may frown at the perceived value the title offers, but replay value simply isn’t for everyone. The game offers an interesting story, set in a universe many are invested in already, and a story that has real world political leanings concerning war profiteering and the use of PMC’s. Slick combat, tight controls, and epic scale boss fights all combine to make this game an absolute hit.
Now, as is getting to be tradition around these parts, how would you like to get your hands on a copy of the game? We’ve got two copies to give away, one each for Xbox 360 and PS3 players. Check out our competition for full details and good luck!