Stewart: Metal Gear Rising cuts new path

BY SAM STEWART | MARCH 07, 2013 5:00 AM

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When Metal Gear Rising was first announced back in 2009, I was skeptical. The Metal Gear series has always done a great job of keeping its story reality and game-play reality equal. Everything that your character does in a cut scene feels as if it could be done in game. You never felt left out of the action, because most of the time you were doing it. But, how were they going to do that with a game about the cyborg side character Raiden?

Raiden, who falls from the sky to lay waste to an army of giant robots. Raiden, who stops an entire freighter from crashing into an island by himself. Raiden, who is named after lightning and is just as fierce.

I didn’t believe such an action-packed game could exist. But Platinum Games has a way of working with the unbelievable, and somehow it delivered with its series spin-off, Metal Gear Rising, one of the most amazing and unique action games I have played since Bayonetta.

The story begins with Raiden’s failure. When the important figure he is protecting is kidnapped by a group of guerillas, Raiden fails to save him and is gravely injured by one of the guerrillas. Once his body is repaired and improved, Raiden sets out to destroy the mercenary group, thus beginning his quest for “Revengeance.” Although the story is pretty standard, Revengeance keeps things interesting with trademark Metal Gear commentary on the state of war and the real world.

When it comes to game play, Platinum has tried to craft something unique. Not only did it succeed, but it seemed to understand exactly what an action game should be. No ill-fitting platforming. No lengthy puzzles. Just pure action, with a hint of stealth.

Revengeance wants you to feel like Raiden: powerful. Most weak enemies can be killed with a few hits, but the same goes for stronger ones when you are playing well. Anytime you see a red flash, you know an enemy attack is incoming, and a well-timed counter can knock even the toughest baddie off his guard. This parry system encourages the player to attack head on rather than dance and dodge.

Anytime an enemy’s guard is broken, you can enter the game’s infamous Blade Mode. When entered after a guard break, time slows to halt, and you are allowed to angle your sword for precise cuts, taking off specific limbs or just turning your opponent into hamburger. This mechanic is necessary for hitting small weak spots, and exposing your opponent’s energy-filled cores. When sliced just right, you can perform a Zan-Datsu, or “cut and take,” to steal their core and replenish your life. Raiden can’t take too many hits, so frequent Zan-Datsus are a must. 

Just as in any other Metal Gear game, there is an element of stealth, if you want to take advantage of it. Sneaking up on an enemy allows you to execute an instant-kill Zan-Datsu, and if you can clear an area without being seen, you can save yourself a lot of time and trouble. A variety of sub weapons such as grenades and rocket launchers can also be employed, but they are never as effective or fun to use as your sword. Defeating bosses extends your arsenal of weapons, allowing you to mix up the combat in interesting ways. All weapons can be upgraded, as can Raiden himself using points gained from defeating enemies.

Revengeance is graphically impressive, but it is strange that it doesn’t seem much improved over its predecessor, 2008’s Metal Gear Solid Four, which is still one of the best-looking games of this generation. All movements are very smooth, with some minor glitches during Ninja Runs, which allow you to traverse obstacles automatically. Most impressive of all is the way enemies and objects realistically fall apart after being cut in blade mode. I spent at least 10 minutes cutting up trees and boxes to just watch them fall apart.

Revengeance’s original soundtrack consists mostly of metal songs, which the developers felt better fit the games style. While none of it is bad, it felt a little heavy-handed at times, especially when loud lyrics would pop in during boss fights.

Despite its short length, when I finished Metal Gear Rising, all my worries had melted away. How could I doubt the potential of a Metal Gear/Platinum crossover? In the end the game surpassed all of my expectations. Now my worries are long gone, replaced by excitement to start the game all over again.

Review Score: 9.5

Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance
Developed by Platinum Games
Published by Konami
Platform: PS3, Xbox 360
Cost: $59.99
Released: Feb 19th, 2013
Rated M for Mature

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