Metal Gear Rising falls face first into a few action game pitfalls, but the game remains undeniably fun.

User Rating: 9 | Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance X360
Metal Gear Rising was announced several years ago, but it was eventually scrapped. However, the reigns were passed to Platinum Games, and Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance is finally here.

Story---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Taking place after the events of Metal Gear Solid 4, Raiden is now working for a private military company. With an unnamed African country recovering from a civil war, Raiden is tasked with protecting Prime Minister N'Mani. As one would expect, they're attacked by multiple cyborgs, and the Prime Minister is murdered. Raiden, in his attempt to fight one of the cyborgs known as Jetstream Sam, is completely humiliated and loses his left eye and left arm in the fight.

The story resumes after Raiden has acquired a new body, a procedure he's not exactly unfamiliar with. He then sets out after members of the PMC that attacked them, known as Desperado. It gets into some interesting territory when a situation is created that creates a deep sense of motivation for Raiden, and it leads into some light character development. The problem, however, is that Raiden basically forgets this revelation he has a few minutes after it happens, and all you're left with is a power-up which isn't much of a substitute for say, dialogue and actions that more accurately reflect his change.

The story still retains the Metal Gear tradition of extremely long, drawn out exposition sequences, both in the form of cutscenes and codec conversations. If it's not your thing, you have the option to outright skip the former, and fast forward the latter. Rising is quite light on the convoluted ideas and confusing language, so it's quite accessible even to those new to the series. The bare essentials are all understandable from the beginning, there's no "La Li Lu Le Lo" here.

However, there is a dip in quality at the end. I won't spoil anything, but the final boss comes completely out of left field, and their back story, motivation, and identity are memorable for all the wrong reasons.

It may not be particular complex, deep, or even consistent, but it sets the tone well enough. All you can ask from an action game.

Audio---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Sound effects, whether they be firearms, explosions, or swords clashing all sound fine. We've pretty much reached the peak of realistic general sounds at this point, so it's not particularly outstanding, but you can't fault it for anything either.

What really stands out is the music. The way Rising handles music is absolutely brilliant. To begin with, the music itself is exceptional, ranging from heavier rock to more electronic. Very suitable for the type of fast paced action this game offers. The aforementioned brilliance of the music comes in during the multiple stages of boss fights. The themes always begin without lyrics, in a fairly basic form. As you progress, the music changes slightly.

For example, in a very early boss fight against Metal Gear Ray, regardless of the damage done, any time you enter Blade Mode to cut up a certain section, the music will change to a very suitably hectic pace that succeeds in reflecting the dozens of attacks you're currently dishing out. When a boss is pushed to the final section of the fight, the lyrics will kick in. Now, because different players will do things at different paces, you would expect that some transitions would be incredibly garring and uncomfortable. After all, these events will always happen at different points in the song. However, Rising solves this issue. Any time one of these moments will occur, the game takes suitable time to have a flashy action cutscene, if only for a few seconds. During this time, the music shifts, and it's so seamless that you'll rarely, if ever, notice it.

Unfortunately, after all the gushing over the music, the same can't be said for the voice acting and dialogue. The most obvious misstep is a young boy named George. He speaks in the most bizarre accent I've ever heard, and obviously the game agrees, as it provides subtitles attesting to the fact that he is indeed speaking "English". Luckily, he's in the game fairly infrequently.

On the subject of accents however, I quite enjoyed the rest of the voice actors. They range from Russian, to German, to Southern, and I was surprised by how much I enjoyed hearing them. Raiden has a few lines that are cringe-worthy, but all in all, I think the voice fits the crazy pretty boy quite well.

There is one last thing in regards to dialogue that should be mentioned. The characters swear more than you're probably used to in Metal Gear games. While it makes sense for a guy who has just had his legs chopped off to do so, it's thrown around in some really casual conversation as well. While not excessive, it's often rather misplaced given the situation.

Graphics----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Rather counter intuitively, this game looks both average and great. The detail on Raiden and other cyborgs/UGs is quite exceptional. there's so many individual parts, and they all move and flex convincingly. The fact that everything also has an inside, visible after being cut, is also worth noting under the category of impressive detail. However, there's many times, particularly during cutscenes, in which things can look very jaggy and unpolished.

Gameplay--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Platinum Games are known for making superb action games, and Rising is no exception. This is quite possibly one of the finest action games of this generation.

Rising sells itself on the idea that you can cut anything. The X and Y buttons allow for light and heavy attacks respectively, and different combinations, directional inputs, and timing alter the attacks. Swing at a tree, and you'll cut it in half exactly where you swung. Hitting the Left Trigger allows you to enter Blade Mode. For those who haven't played Afro Samurai, this is a mechanic where you can aim from every conceivable angle and swing your sword. This allows for extremely precise cuts in whatever way you choose. Luckily, entering Blade Mode slows down time, allowing you ample time to target an arm, leg, or if you're like me, the waist, which causes the top half to rocket off in a hilarious fashion. If you aim at the right spot, you can rip out the spines of enemies to replenish your health and electrolytes. This is where Zan-Datsu, or "cut and take" comes into play. This mechanic is used, oddly enough, for collectibles as well. Left arms of officers are a form of collectible that you must remove before you kill them. What's interesting about this is that the head is generally going to be the go-to that people are used to aiming at. The arm, and left at that, throws in an interesting dynamic where you'll be forced to take difficult swings at awkward angles. It's a nice way to involve combat and collectibles, and another example of this game knowing exactly what it wants to be.

The cutting mechanic is simply spectacular overall. You can chop up whatever you wish, and the level of detail is impressive. Even when there's hundreds of pieces flying around, the game rarely slows down at all. The unfortunate part, however, is that most things do disappear after a short time. This is a shame, but you can't fault the game itself for it, as the hardware is limited.

Rising also has an interesting mechanic uncommon to most action games. There's no block button, nor is there a dodge button. Blocking is done in the form of parries, which involve pointing the left stick at the enemy and attacking. If timed approximately right, you'll block their attack, if timed perfectly, you'll counterattack as well. This is crucial to the combat system.

In terms of evasion, there is a dodge-like move in the form of X+A. While it is useful, it's not so much a dodge as it is an attack with invincibility frames. While this sounds like the best of both worlds on paper, it can be rather frustrating. Many enemies/bosses can block attacks, so if you're trapped in a corner and simply want to get out, you must also take a swing as you attempt this. On higher difficulty settings, this will simply cause you to be knocked back by a blocking/parrying enemy, because you were forced to attack along with your dodge. There's also no kind of fast recovery if you're being knocked around. The philosophy for this game was that Raiden is to always be on the offensive, so I can see where this comes from; however, it does create some frustrating problems that can and will be serious issues for some.

All of that being said, would I prefer a traditional block and dodge move in place of the current system? Despite my frustrations, no. See, Rising does something very well with this system, and that's involve you in the tension and excitement of a sword fight. When a boss throws a flurry of 10 attacks at you, you have to parry them all individually. There are times your fingers will be sore just from mashing forward+X for each attack, and you'll be loving every moment, because it's involving you at a level that holding a button to automatically protect yourself simply doesn't do.

Rising also has an upgrade system, and multiple weapons to use when bosses are defeated or a certain number of collectibles are found. There's a pretty good variety to them, but there is by no means an extensive number of combos or playstyles. If you're looking for something really deep, you won't find it here.

The highlights of this game however, are the boss battles. They are all absolutely spectacular. One in particular I would nominate for the best boss fight ever, but none of them are without their charm. All boss fights have multiple sections in each fight, so it's never monotonous. The tension is always high as they attack quickly and frequently. The music sets the mood perfectly, and there's always some kind of X-factor that ensures that it's not just a straight up sword fight. If there had to be one negative to the bosses, it's that all of them, save for one, are at the end of levels. Since you can't restart from specific points in a chapter, it's a shame that you have to cut through a bunch of enemies before being able to fight them again.

However, with all of the positives, there are a few issues that need to be brought up. The game is short, very short. It took me just under five hours to beat it, and that was with a fair amount of exploration and stealth. To its credit, there's no retreading to artificially lengthen the time, but the game could have definitely been about 2-3 hours longer. Optional VR missions are available, but there's only 20 of them, and none of the ones I played were particularly exceptional.

All that being said, I should note what I did the second the credits stopped. I immediately went to hard mode and played through again. As of the writing of this review, I'm on my 3rd playthrough. For me, this game has already provided more entertainment than many one and done action games I've played in the past. However, for the vast majority of people, this probably won't be the case.

The second issue is the camera. It can be left alone, where it will have a soft lock, or you can hit RB to focus on a specific enemy. While the lock-on works very well in boss fights, it can be a nuisance for ordinary enemies. If the camera gets into awkward positions, sometimes it will whip around all over the place. It's rather jarring, and I'm not sure why it happens sometimes. All in all, it's a below average camera.

Overall-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Rising delivers in being incredibly stylish. Despite being in a well established universe, it isn't bound by it, and it knows what it wants to be. It's a short game, but at no point is it ever boring. The quality of the experience is undeniable, but it has some issues that will turn people off.

If you're an action game fan, you owe it to yourself to play this. Even if you can't justify the price tag enough to buy it, this is a game that must be played by fans of the genre.
0 comments