Published on February 19th, 2013 | by Deejay Knight, Editor/Founder
Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance Review [Xbox 360]
Developer: Platinum Games, Kojima Productions
Release Date: Feb. 19, 2013
Platform: Xbox 360 [Reviewed], PlayStation 3
Review Notes: A copy of the game was received for review purposes.
It is kind of odd stepping back into the Metal Gear franchise after so long a departure. The last entry I played in the series was Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots, and that was quite some time ago. So when I got Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance in the mail, I was both anxious and skeptical about the game I was about to spend a copious amount of time exploring.
First thing’s first, this isn’t your mama’s Metal Gear. Where the previous games I remember from the series were all about stealth and being a mega-spy, Revengeance is all about slicing things to minutia as a robo-ninja, and damnit it’s good fun.
The game starts out with Raiden, a co-hero from Metal Gears’ past and looking very much like he did when you last see him in the previous games, playing a security guard role. As a member of Maverick Security, he’s contracted to guard a Prime Minister who is big on peace. Of course, with all the antagonists, many of whom work for Desperado Enterprises, being huge fans of war, that is not going to work out too well for them. Shortly after the game begins, you’ll find yourself fighting what are normally unbeatable odds while slicing your way through enemies, gates, crates, various mutations of Metal Gears and missiles with reckless glee in an attempt to save the man you have been defending thus far.
The events of that mission require a bit of an upgrade to Raiden’s body and, shortly after, you find him in his new Cyborg form, with a substantial upgrade in his abilities. His blade now sucks the electrolytes directly from the cyborgs he’s attacking, which powers Blade Mode, the mechanic that lets you slice your enemies into paper-thin sheets if you like. There are also unlockable health, combo, blade power and weapon upgrades that you can earn throughout the game.
Without spoiling any of the specific story elements, the path Raiden finds himself on tests the very foundations of his psyche and evolve him as a character — which also has an added benefit as this evolution adds even more power to Raiden’s repertoire.
For the most part, the audio of the game feels right. The music during the boss battles sounds right out of an anime, with upbeat, almost motivational-sounding, rock songs that feel just right in the moment.
The voice acting is very hit-or-miss. Raiden has transitions (while they’re understandable) between sounding like himself and then sounding like a gravel-gargling, throat-cancer-having, antihero hell bent on destroying everything in his path. It is like the difference between Bruce Wayne and Batman in the “Dark Knight” trilogy, except here the “gruff” voice doesn’t sound as scary as in the former.
There is also a character later into the game that sounds absolutely nothing like the character’s appearance suggests. The voice sounded completely ridiculous coming from the character it came from, and immediately drew a couple groans from yours truly.
It is almost a standard in third-person games, but there are many areas where the camera in this game absolutely shines. Unfortunately though, there are also a couple major boss battles where the camera is your worst enemy in the fight. When you’re in the midst of fighting a boss who towers multiple stories over you, it’s understandable that the developer wants you to take in the full situation and remind you that the boss you’re fighting is gigantic. I know the boss is massive and I get he’s important for me to look at, but the piece of him that’s the size of a city bus wants to destroy me in ways untold. Panning the camera at its face doesn’t really do me much good.
This is where all the importance of this game lies, friends. When I booted this game up, I had no idea what to expect because I didn’t play the demo. Some of us did, but I barely even glanced at that because I wanted a clean slate when I got hands on it.
The controls are fairly straightforward and generally easy if you’ve ever played a fighting game or beat-em up. Low- and high-power attacks to get your combos going, Ninja Run uses your agility to get through obstacle courses with ease and the cream of the crop is Blade Mode. Your blade has a high-frequency electrical current running through it that makes it far easier for you to slice your enemies into dust. I say “dust” because saying “slicing your enemies like a hot knife through butter” would be doing a great disservice to hot knives and cold butter. If you’ve seen any of the footage, you know that you can cut enemies into so many tiny pieces – in what is the blink of an eye for the enemies you’re slicing – that it’s offensive to try and keep count.
With all that frequency, the blade has a Power Meter that, if full when you initiate Blade Mode, allows you to immediately dispatch the most basic cyborgs with a technique called Zandatsu. Activated by holding Left Trigger / L1, when your more powerful enemies have been sufficiently pulverized, they’ll have a red box floating where their power units are located. When you slice through that box, pressing B/Circle will have Raiden extract it from their spines, then crush it in his hands, refilling his blade’s power meter as well as your health bar, allowing you to immediately get back to Blade Mode and making your life easier if you had no more regeneration units.
Blade Mode is the shining beacon of awesome attached to Revengeance, and it’s a joy to slice enemies from basic cyborgs all the way up to your antagonists and Metal Gears down to ribbons.
The biggest issue I noted during my first playthrough was something that’s garnered a serious amount of traffic throughout the internet, and that’s the Block/Parry mechanic. It’s covered in the VR missions and the tutorial (which you should really be doing), but the way it’s explained didn’t help me to really get the mechanic. I didn’t understand how to do it reliably until I fought the second-to-last boss, and it was so deceptively simple that I hated myself for having problems with it.
Here’s how you do it: hold toward your attacking enemy and press the X/Square button (low-power attack) when your enemy starts winding up its own attack. During combos you’ll have to tap it multiple times, and if you tap it at the moment the attack would hit you, you immediately parry it and open the enemy up for a Blade Mode combo or a Zandatsu.
The second largest issue I didn’t really get immediately was that anytime you see a flash of lettering on the screen and a slight slow-motion for a second, you need to enter Blade Mode and start slicing away.
Getting those two mechanics down has immediately shown remarkable improvements in my gameplay. I’m couple of missions into Hard mode, and it feels easy compared to my first playthrough.
Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance wears a lot of hats. For Metal Gear fans, it is a continuation of the story we’ve been following for years. The bigger point to make here is that this game isn’t made for the same exact fans. If you come into Revengeance looking for the same stealth and weaponry-based gameplay, you’ll be sorely disappointed. In fact, I haven’t seen any guns that you can fire outside of a single turret during the campaign. What the developer is doing here is branching out into other genres with a franchise that many of us know and love, thereby extending the life of the franchise across multiple genres. Personally, I’m a fan of that.
When I picked up the controller to go on this ride of craziness, I fully expected to hate it because I’ve never been all that good at slash-em ups. What I found, though, was that the more I played, the more I enjoyed it. Finding out different combos or ways to initiate a Zandatsu kill, then trying more combinations with a full health and energy bar just felt refreshing, especially when I pulled something new off. Then, truly figuring out how to block and parry attacks in the middle of battling a particularly difficult adversary immersed me even more. This game has the capability of being as simple or as challenging as you allow it to be.
I’ve come to the conclusion that most of the anger toward the game is due to people not truly understanding the controls, which can definitely be thrown right back to Platinum Games and Kojima Productions, because even on the controller layout image in the game manual, there’s no mention of blocking or parrying attacks, let alone dodging.
Some people will give this game grief because it’s a single-player game, but combine the campaign having individual scores for completing each difficulty level, the copious amounts of VR levels that get unlocked via pickups in the campaign, tons of challenging Achievements/Trophies and the promise of future DLC, there’s plenty of value here for your dollar.
The control and camera issues are the biggest I can find with this extension of the Metal Gear franchise.
+ Combat mechanics are satisfying for newbies and challenging to master.
+ Zandatsu kills are awesome looking, and look even better when chained together.
+ Continues the Metal Gear storyline in the great & over-the top way they should.
+ VR Missions and unlockables add a ton of replay value.
+ Great attempt at taking the Metal Gear series into a new genre.
– Explanation of block/parry in-game is horrendous.
– Some gigantic boss battles require battling the boss and the camera.
– Some voice actors just don’t fit.