Metal Gear Rising Revengence
Platform reviewed: PS3
Very few series in gaming can have the privilege of standing among the elite likes of Mario, Sonic, Megaman or several other long running franchises, and even fewer can boast such pedigree as Metal Gear. Kojima's opus has some terrifyingly devoted fans, so it wasn't particularly surprising to see some of them wary of moving from tactical espionage to blunt force. Platinum came through with something that is decidedly Metal Gear and all it's own at the same time.
Several years have past since the events of Metal Gear Solid 4 and the fall of The Patriot's hold on the world at war. Foxhound protege turned cyborg badass Raiden has returned to the battlefield with Maverick securities. Charged with defending an African Prime Minister and building their own army up, things go south when a mysterious cyborg duo working with Desperado mercenary group capture and kill the prime minister. Raiden is forced to upgrade himself to compete as he works to stop the ambitions of Desperado. The visual style is pretty on par with the last entry, and while not particularly spectacular at this point it does the job. The fact the game maintains a constant framerate when everything hits the fan is of particular note.
Rising is for the most part, amazingly light on the exposition for the series, keeping the few cutscenes it does have short and visually impactful. The occasional mid level codec conversations do result in the "hand to ear can't do anything" trope, but the pace is typically swift. Rising hardly has the most epic part of the Metal Gear saga, clocking it at six to eight hours. An in depth scoring system for each encounter and an overall rank for each mission encourage replayability, and the unlockable VR missions and currently free DLC chapters further the value.
Battle is flowing and stylish, involving the stringing of light and heavy attacks in a visual and visceral dance, controlling just as flawlessly as he looked in Metal Gear Solid 4. Slicing through legions of cyborgs is satisfying. The main gimmick of the combat, Blade mode is the major focus however. When the bar is charged, hitting the trigger brings Raiden into a stationary position in which time slows and players use the right stick to directly manipulate Raiden's sword. The mechanic can be used as a quick combo extender, deliberate slices can remove limbs from otherwise more dangerous enemies, and a swift bisection can extract a heal from an enemy while dealing a death blow.
This gauge manipulation is the central point of the combat and getting massive combos and taking on massively superior forces feels amazing. It's when the game leaves you one on one in boss battles where seems begin to show. There is no block button in rising, at best you can get an unlockable dodge manoeuvre. Defence relies on a skill the game calls parrying, where you direct an attack toward the origin of the enemy assault. The trick is the game does a terrible job of explaining the mechanic to you, and when it does click, it takes practice to master the touchy mechanic. It's possible to get through a majority of the game without it, but a threshold is crossed at a specific late game boss where you master the technique, or you won't be seeing the credits.
Metal Gear Rising displays the strengths of Platinum and the Metal Gear series in a visceral triumph of gameplay and style. Thought it can be demanding of it's players, the satisfaction of overcoming the challenges it puts before you is constantly rewarding. Metal Gear Rising cuts to the heart of gameplay and leaves you wanting more.