Review: Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance

Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance is a lesson in stripped-back efficiency. Adapting Kojima Productions’ canned semi-sequel to Metal Gear Solid 4 into a form in line with Platinum Games’ previous handiwork requires compromises and cuts – pardon the pun – and to Platinum’s credit the result is an elegant, heavily streamlined and unapologetically bombastic rollercoaster that knows better than to try and outstay its welcome. It’s Metal Gear, but not as we know it.

Developer: Platinum Games/Kojima Productions
Publisher: Konami
Reviewed on: PS3
Also Available On: Xbox 360
Release Date: Available Now

BRB-Score-5

It’s a game that means business, throwing endless chaos and swordplay at you to an endless breakbeat-lacked thrash metal soundtrack. As you go you’ll slice up robots from the Metal Gear universe, shred cyborgs to pieces and crush their artificial spinal cords in your fist and fight a well-endowed mistress wielding a staff made out of robotic forearms; and that’s just for starters.

Playing as Raiden, the sword-wielding badass cyborg, is properly silly fun, but silly fun that is so well made and whittled down to a point that it’s equally playable whether an elite fan or a total franchise outsider. The story, which revolves around Raiden taking on an evil private military company hell-bent on staring World War III, is mostly made up of winks and nods to the rest of the Metal Gear universe – especially the clumsily shoehorned philosophical soliloquies – and as such can be glazed over should one just wish to cut to the action.

The action is largely button-mash friendly, relying on light attacks with Raiden’s sword and heavier attacks with a variety of harder-hitting secondary weapons. Parrying is essential to survival, with telltale red glimmers indicating when it’s time to block and flashes of gold foreshadowing unblockable strikes. Raiden’s seemingly countless animations are a joy to behold, the entire experience one of unmitigated joy as he sweeps back and forth from soldier to soldier, dancing in the air and twirling his sword from every limb as the soundtrack lets off some ambient nukes and the body count rises.

MGR02

Paint it red.

Rising‘s crowning feature is Blade Mode, in which time slows and Raiden stands still, aiming his sword on a two-dimensional plane. Using the right analog stick, you can cut freely in any direction and neither enemy soldier nor street furniture is safe from being cleaved in two, or three, or four. There’s a guilty sadistic rush to sweeping back and forth, slicing enemies into countless pieces before reaching in and plucking out their juicy bits for a significant health boost.

Despite the endless fluidity of the combat, the game occasionally stumbles over its own feet. the camera occasionally gets in the way especially if locked on to a target, so it’s best to ignore the feature altogether. The buttery smoothness is also interrupted by equipping sub-weapons such as grenades, rocket launchers and cardboard boxes, which require Raiden to come to a complete standstill before the menu can be opened, and the button combination of a rear left shoulder button and front right is clumsy: you will find yourself trying to aim an RPG and switching to Blade Mode by accident more than once in the very brief campaign.

The game’s brisk length – I completed it on Normal in less than five hours – is an asset rather than a setback. Rising‘s superb pacing ensures that boss fights are never far away and that the swordplay isn’t diluted through repetitive kill-rooms. New Game+ is almost too much to resist after a first playthrough and with dozens of customisation options, including the ability to play as Gray Fox from the original Metal Gear Solid, there’s plenty to explore even after seeing the credits roll. There’s even the potential to approach the game as a classic Metal Gear title through stealth rather than direct assault – but don’t expect much thanks from the game for going to the trouble.

Relentless scrapping – Platinum knows best
Over-the-top styling and soundtrack
Brief, but exceptionally paced
Awkward camera and weapon switching

Despite the occasional stumble, Rising is a fantastic phoenix of a game, rising out of the ashes of a game that almost never was with stubborn tenacity and a fistful of brilliant ideas. The execution isn’t perfect but Platinum Games have done a sterling job of producing a scrapper which takes Metal Gear into new territory without alienating a fiercely loyal fanbase – or scaring off new blood. It’s not perfect, but what is? And what else dares to be this exciting for just the right amount of time?

The review copy of this title was purchased by the author.
Official Game Site

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Comments

  1. Jordan P

    I love the game too. And I agree with every point of your review.

    Only little thing I would pull you up on is the 5/5 score. Despite you saying several times in the review that the game isn’t perfect. Now this isn’t me saying your wrong to give it 5 out of 5 or wrong for saying it isn’t perfect. In fact I can agree with both statements. It just struck me as awkward reading. 5/5 10/10 whatever rating system you use if you give full marks people will complain if you then go on to say the game isn’t perfect.

    Other than that though great review of a fantastic game. And to people who say its too short. I’m on my 4th playthrough at over 18 hours looking forward to my revengence difficulty playthrough. And to people who say its just a mindless button masher. Try mashing your way through very hard or revengence mode. You won’t get past the first fight. My game of the year so far. I’d give it 4.5/5 though because as you said the camera and secondary weapon system isn’t the best.

    • There is no such thing as a perfect game and full marks does not necessarily mean a perfect score.

      In the context of this review, 5/5 refers to the game being an as-close-to-ideal fulfilment of what it set out to do, in that it’s an excellent hack-and-slash title which makes very few errors and the ones that it does make are tiny and really don’t inconvenience or frustrate in a truly game-breaking way. Rising is a fantastic action game and Platinum have done an excellent job with the precious universe they’ve been handed, and that such a short play time feels justified in comparison to other, longer games is definitely worthy of merit.

      I do, however, commend you for reading the entire review before making comments on the score, and I can understand where you are coming from – but I believe the game is, minor inconsequential problems aside, exactly the game that Platinum set out to make and is exactly the game we wanted to play. It earns full marks in my book.

  2. I wish I’d scrolled further through the comments and had seen this.

  3. Jordan P

    I wasn’t aware that brb ran a system where full marks doesn’t equal a perfect game. And as I said before I can agree with a 5/5 review score. My comment was more of a general one about how most people would see the review finding it like I did. Without knowing brb’s policy on 5/5 scores not needing to necessarily equal a perfect game. I would think most people would find it odd to see a full marks score then see several references to it not being perfect. It wasn’t meant to be a slight at the reviewer. Maybe that little bit of spiel explaining the scores needs to be included near the score given to explain the meaning on the score.

    Then again maybe its just me that finds it odd. But it seems like even Jon didn’t know about the policy since he never referenced it in his reply and seemed to want to include it after seeing it from the other poster.

    And again it wasn’t meant to cause an argument, just a suggestion to avoid confusion, and to help people that aren’t familiar with the site. With the amount of game review sites around these days I know I am very critical if I see one thing that doesn’t make sense ill generally right off the site as a whole.

  4. Jordan P

    Thanks for the reply Dan. That’s cleared things up for me. And I have to say now that I know the system I can agree its one of the better ones I’ve seen for scoring games online.

    I still have my original worry that people not familiar with the scoring system may be annoyed by a 5/5 that doesn’t equal a perfect game. But as soon as it is explained it makes sense. Maybe a break down of the percentage along with the out of 5 score would resolve this complaint if it becomes a trend in the future. But like many things this may just be me reading too much into it.

    But now that I know the system ill keep that in mind the next time I read a brb review.

    Keep up the good work.

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