Developer: Kojima Productions / Platinum Games
Publisher: Konami Digital Entertainment, Inc.
Platform: PlayStation 3, Xbox 360
Release Date: February 19, 2013
ESRB: M for Mature
This review is based on the PlayStation 3 version of the game.
A retail copy was provided by the publisher for this review.
I“ll come clean: this is my first Metal Gear game. I“ve always been interested in the series, but I“ve never been able to get into the stealth gameplay. That“s why I was intrigued when it was revealed that Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance would be a hack-and-slash action game and excited when Platinum Games“ involvement was revealed. It may be an atypical entry, both for me and the series, but I finally understand what I“ve been missing all these years.
My biggest fear with this entry point was that I wouldn“t be able to follow the story, having only a loose understanding of the plot from second-hand experiences. It is a bit heavy with jargon and abbreviations, but the story works well as a standalone. Taking place after the events of Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots, you play as the cyborg ninja Raiden, a member of the private military company Maverick Security Consulting, investigating the underhanded dealings of another PMC, Desperado Enforcement.
Thematically, the story revisits familiar concepts The purpose of war in society and the role of soldiers in times of peace are central to the plot. They“re interesting concepts, but I found myself more interested in the character of Raiden and his motivations, especially compared to his foes. The story doesn“t always work and the ending is underwhelming, but it“s interesting, cleverly directed, and well paced.
As you might expect from Kojima Productions, this is a slick product. It looks impressive and takes full advantage of the available hardware. There are a few textures that look odd and occasional stutters when loading or using AR vision, but these issues never interfere with combat. Given Metal Gear“s reputation for long cinematics, I was impressed by how well the cutscenes flowed, never detracting from the pace set by the action. The audio design is also solid, with strong vocal performances and pleasing sound effects. Driving the whole experience is the soundtrack, an interesting mix of rock and electronic sounds that compliments both the action and aesthetic of the game.
While the story and presentation will be the draw for many, mine was the action. I had high expectations going in, given Platinum Games“ history, and I wasn“t disappointed. The controls are as tight as you“d want and the feature set is typical for the genre. There are multiple difficulty settings, with more unlocked upon completion, as well as titles awarded for your performance, giving players of any skill level plenty of goals to work toward. You can customize Raiden to fit your playstyle through upgrades, costumes, and additional weapons by using points acquired through battle with the option to replay previous missions at any point. My only complaint is that, as with most games, there are times where the camera is your biggest enemy and there are times when the lock-on has trouble shifting targets.
Every hack-and-slash game has its own focus, setting it apart from others in the genre. Revengeance“s calling cards are the parry, Blade Mode, and Zandatsu. Parrying makes up the bulk of your defensive options. When an enemy attacks, you move toward the blow and press the light attack button. If you get the timing right, the enemy will be open for a counter, otherwise you“ll simply block the attack. It“s satisfying to get a perfect parry, even more so when you block a string of attacks and get to follow up with a combo of your own.
The signature feature of the game is Blade Mode. After charging your fuel cells by attacking enemies, you can enter Blade Mode and use the analogue stick to control the direction of your cuts, strategically dismembering your foes. When your fuel cells hit a certain level, you can use Blade Mode to perform Zandatsu. This technique has you line up your cut with a marker on the foe, instantly killing them and restoring your health. Tougher foes require the Zandatsu to remove armor and expose vital areas before they can be killed. It“s a very fun mechanic, especially when you end a heated fight by slicing the enemy into a hundred pieces and smashing their spine in your hand.
To me, the best aspect of Revengeance is how open it is. It may seem odd to say, given the linear story progression, but you“re given the freedom to play any way you want. You can choose to skip through cutscenes and calls or use the codec to see additional scenes to learn more about the world and characters. Missions can be a simple dash from point A to B, but there are collectibles and other easter eggs to be found as well. They aren“t huge choices, but they make the length largely dependent on your playstyle and priorities.
Even though stealth isn“t the main focus of the game, it still has a role to play. Rushing out and killing everything in your path is a valid approach, but there are options with more finesse. Whether that option is silently taking out foes from the shadows with ninja kills or sneaking past everyone to reach the objective is up to you. The stealth features aren“t as robust as in the Solid series, but veterans won“t be completely out of their element. Not every section has this freedom, but there“s a lot of room for personalization, making it feel more thought out than any other game in the genre.
Looking at Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance“s history, I understand why people might be wary. It dropped the Solid name and stealth genre, was revealed as a Kinect-enabled watermelon-slicing game, and had a troubled development cycle resulting in another studio“s involvement. Those are issues that most games would be left the worse for, but Kojima Productions and Platinum Games made it work. It“s an extremely satisfying experience that blends the best of the hack-and-slash genre with that distinctly Metal Gear flare that people, myself included, have come to love.
+ Fun, visceral combat
+ Open-ended gameplay
+ Slick, stylish presentation
- Minor camera issues
- Some stuttering in non-combat areas
- Underwhelming conclusion
Overall Score: 9 (Out of 10)
Marrying the best of Kojima Productions and Platinum Games, Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance is an amazing experience for fans and newcomers alike.