GAME NAME: Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance
DEVELOPER(S): Platinum Games
PLATFORM(S): PS3, Xbox 360
GENRE(S): Action, Action Action
RELEASE DATE(S): 02/19/2013
Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance stars the, unrightfully, fan leper of the Metal Gear series, Raiden. In another move to separate him from the Metal Gear fans, Raiden looses the “Tactical Espionage” of the MGS series and keeps the action. Or rather, replaces the “Tactical Espionage Action” with “Action, Action Action.” Things start out crazy, get crazier, and, without warning, explode into mind melting, all within a very, very, short time.
One thing that has always defined the Metal Gear series is story, and Revengeance is no different. While it starts off as a simple quasi-revenge mission, it quickly becomes some much more, involving the Patriots, PMCs, and quite possibly a Metal Gear. Rising genuinely surprised me with its ability to craft a meaningful story with a few characters I actually cared about. While not the tearjerker ending from Metal Gear Solid 3, the final hour or so had me pausing and really considering the “bad guy’s” intentions. Rising presented a moral gray area that, while you have no agency in the actual outcome, pushed the story above your typical dumb action game/movie fare.
Make no mistake though, this is an action game, and the action is doled out with little regard for your thumbs. The main feature of Rising is the Blade Mode which allows you to cut into nearly anything, and keep cutting until it is dust. Slicing your opponent into 300 different parts in the span of a few seconds is not only grotesquely satisfying, but necessary to your survival. Every enemy has a weak point that, when cut into, exposes their spines. Raiden then takes those spines and absorbs their essence into his own body, fully recovering your health and energy meter.
Using this method of healing in tandem with the only defense you have, parrying, keeps you relentlessly in the fray. Despite Raiden’s many enhancements, he lacks the ability to dodge roll. Instead you face an enemy before their attack and just keep attacking. There is never a reason to back out of a fight, and if you are running from the enemies, you are doing it wrong. Every encounter is “kill or be killed” and often involves juggling the weaker baddies around for a while to steal their health later as you focus your many bladed appendages towards the tougher enemies.
While normal encounters are usually a thumb blistering fun house, the bosses are where Rising really shines. No boss starts off as a slow burn to awesome, they start off nuclear and continue to progress up the badass scale with blinding speed. The intensity is intensified intensely by the over the top, and dare I say it, intense music. The rock anthem that is Rising’s soundtrack is present throughout the entire game, but it sprouts wings and floats above Valhalla during the boss encounters. If I had to break it down mathematically, I would say the music is around 80% Heavy Rock, 15% Dubstep, and 15% the driving beat of your own heart and soul as you transcend this mortal coil. Epic is a descriptor, but not nearly a forceful enough one.
Rising is not without its problems though. Smooth combat and Dubstep goes a long way for me, but so does restricting me. Every Metal Gear game has had the Codec, a sort of super spy telephone, in it and Rising is no different. What does differentiate this game from the others in the Metal Gear universe is it gives you the ability to walk around while talking. While you might see this as an advantage, it is actually a huge hindrance. What ends up happening, a lot, is that you will get a call when you are less than 10 feet from the next door. So you end up waking in circles there with Raiden’s hand glued to his ear, just waiting to be set free. You can skip this of course, but then you might miss important story beats. I would have much rather been taken to another screen and given up all control than be given this mockery of freedom that forces me to stand in some dead man’s cubicle for five minutes.
This would not be such an issue if the game were not also so short. My final game time, playing through normally, on normal, was 4 hours. There are more hours of cutscenes in MGS4 than there is campaign in Rising. There are 20+ VR missions you can do to extend your play time, but none of them are very long either. You could also extend the gameplay by trying to sneak past enemies, but in a game where you can cut anything, why?
Luckily the highs in Rising were high enough that these lows will easily fade from memory and only the time I ran across missiles and cut all the things in half will remain. Rising is not some piddly spin-off that should be ignored and occasionally shunned. The game stands on its own two robot legs and gives you a frenzy addled imaginary world from a sugar addicted 10 year old’s mind, and, best of all, makes it fun. The 60$ price point may be a bit steep for the 4 hour campaign but this is not a game to let slip by.