Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance
By Ian Crane
2013 is the year that Platinum Games & Kojima Productions finally brings us the first ever multi platform Metal Gear game outside of the Playstation, featuring none other than the original naked “snake” himself: Jack “Lightening Bolt” Raiden. With a hack and slash on-rails twist, does this series spin off rise as high as it could, or fall so much further?
Set after Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriot Rising does a good job of setting the premise for what is admittedly a rather short game. Whilst fondly remembered as the character that could sneak around naked in Metal Gear Solid 2 and making a cameo in Metal Gear 4 Raiden is now in Liberia, the Prime Minister is kidnapped by other Metal Gear cyborgs and then the chase is on. We are slowly introduced to Raiden “lightning bolts” back up team and the set up for the rest of the title is revealed, including exactly why and how Raiden the child soldier of Liberia now looks more Metal Gear than human flesh.
Before the game jumps forward 4 years, the player will have already cut his way through one full sized Metal Gear robot and interacted with a large number of on-rail and QTE including a “new” game mechanic called 'jumping up and across flying missiles in mid air, bouncing from one to another to reach the top of an enemy and slicing it down'
If elements of Africa or the ensuing plot around child organ harvesting sound vaguely familiar, it may be because at least at the start, the game has more than a passing resemblance to the newer Resident Evil series. While elements of the story dip into serious territory with flashes of violence and darkness, Metal Gear Rising continuously and bafflingly continues to throw in weird and wonderful slapstick humour that also completely undermines what the games sets out to do.
Just as you start to get into the feel for this male Bayonetta he turns up in a Sombrero in Mexico, making wise cracks to his companion who is nothing short of the classic cliché of big breasts, glasses and blonde hair. Story is presented through a variety of cut scenes, walking/talking and interactive menus.
Whilst the production team assured that the cut scenes were not as long as Metal Gear Solid 4, they still continue to constantly interrupt the action on top of which there is a fair amount of 'walking and talking' and those menus. Be prepared to essentially stop the game and spend a LOT of time in the menu system listening to characters talk if you want the full story reveal.
As a standalone title Rising Revengeance is a solid Jap-action title but lacks the seasoned tried and true methods of stealth and seriousness that grounded their weird sci-fi in reality.
Metal Gear Rising first made waves around the same time that motion control was taking off; used to demonstrate the efficiency of said Kinect and Move controls. Years later this has been ditched for a less than accurate 'slice mode' that also doubles as a nifty way to get full health:
Timing slices at exactly the right angle to land a kude-gra and steal the spine of the countless androids that Raiden must destroy. It makes a nice change from the block and counter of recent titles like Batman and Assassins Creed, but combined with hyper kinetic speed, movement takes time to get used to.
The whole game is mostly played with the right trigger held down and the most skilled players could, quite literally speed run through it in this way. Whilst some care has been taken to map the controller for western audience, some confusion still exists including mapping of the alternate weapons and trying to effect any sort of “stealth” mode. Any remnants of 'stealth' left over from previous Metal Gear games are thankfully enacted using other devices like robots that Raiden controls from a distance to sneak up on enemies.
Rising relies on other staples such as grading your performance for each level, a large number of “in jokes” and collectables to find, hidden secrets and about 5 or 6 different levels of difficulty all the way to the most taxing.
However whilst the lack of multiplayer is not needed, matched with a large number of challenge and VR modes- lack of options to change the light and contrast in the setting menu, the short 7 chapters that the game makes up and an over simplified light/heavy battle system smacks of a game from the middle of this generation, not the end of it.
The gameplay is fast furious and fun but more polish and current changes on game presentation are needed to bring it in line with other competing titles in 2013
Again, with a little more polish on his solid metal exterior Jack “lightening bolt” Raiden could have come out shining- as it is the graphics are good and sometimes great but never excellent, although had the game come out on time or even a few years ago it would be a completely different story.
The cut scenes are still very pretty, the armor of the different androids and cyborgs greatly detailed and despite this hack and slack departure in game play, it is innately Metal Gear.
Even for the un-initiated, there is a unique style to the character; weather it's the walking robots with Human legs, the small droids with human arms or the mismatched costumes of clichéd characters both Russian and domestic.
The visual feast of some of the boss battles in this game as well cannot be underestimated and is one of the main reasons to buy the game.
Whilst the sense of humor presented on screen can at times be odd or even quite a bit sexist there is s certain charm in these sort of exported Asian titles that we have come to expect from both Capcom, Kojima Productions or Square Enix.
The short length of the game means that environments are never really repeated if not a tad done to death featuring “the sewer level” “The-avoid the video camera level” and many others. Zones are generally 'boxed in' making hidden and hard to find items a matter of running all around and over a space before moving on.
One thing to appreciate is that graphically the game does a good job of representing a science fiction tone that sits just on the edge of uncomfortable as a strong theme of child slave labour and exploitation as well as body and limb harvesting pushes through the lighter moments.
The bloody clouds in the sky and contrasts of light and dark etch a world that is just about to collapse and on the brink of the “next big thing” in human history.
If other elements of the game haven't turned you off completely then this game is probably for you. If you are amused by the rolling sad orchestral strings giving way to hyper kinetic jap pop/ rock music as you assault the next boss battle then this game is definitely for you.
It doesn't matter who the band is, or what he is singing about the strong energy the music brings in the middle of a serious battle is sometimes the difference between killing a boss and admitting defeat. Not unlike previous titles or games of a similar genre Rising Revengeance consists of a rather pleasant mix of folk guitar and rock pop electric guitar solos.
Voice acting, and there is a lot of voice acting consists of a similar mix of well spoken, cheesy over acted accents and Raidens “finger nails down a chalk board”. There is a fine line between 'smokers cough' and 'strangling a cat' and unfortunately when they rebuilt him, they forgot to modulate his voice box.
There is no doubt that what Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance bring to the table is good, fun gameplay. However careening into the next generation, it can't help feeling like too little too late. Truthfully, had the game even come out a year ago it probably would have been received differently. Does it extend the Metal Gear lore and take it in a new direction? Yes. Is that necessarily a good direction? That is a much harder question to answer.
This reviewer would have personally preferred to still see a better and more polished stealth game or at least a hack and slash game with more pronounced combos, tighter control and added features.
Resident evil 6 was critically panned in 2012 for similar either changing too much from the originals or not changing enough from number 5 and in the end what is presented is a fun but forgettable game that spends too much energy making fun of itself.