Back in 2002, I remember being so excited to play the newly released Metal Gear Solid 2. The memories of playing through the Boat level and imagining how much fun playing as the gruff Snake was going to be will always be a great moment in gaming for me. I always like to tell the story of how my brother was playing, got spotted, and ran into a locker. A guard started opening neighboring lockers and once he opened my brother’s locker the alert timer had expired. The guard looked away and my brother closed the locker door. The guard had turned back to the locker, stood there a bit, and walked away. It was a magical moment in gaming where we both looked at each other and said, “Did that really just happen?” The rest of the game eventually shifted when you entered Big Shell with this effeminate looking guy. The colonel called him Jack, then gave him the code name Raiden. To my dismay, I ended up playing as him for the rest of the game and again I asked myself, “did that really just happen?”. Disappointed was quite the understatement and thus began my dislike for the guy. Here we are in 2013, Raiden in the lead again but do I still dislike him or this game? I only need one word, amazing.
Kojima Productions has handed Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance into the action oriented hands of Platinum Games. Similar to the story of our cyborg hero Raiden, Platinum has rebuilt Rising into quite an incredible piece of entertainment; this game will make you love swordplay and feel as nimble as you would expect of a cyborg ninja to be. In Rising, Raiden is going around being the self-proclaimed agent of justice as he works with a new private military company. He’s taking on odd jobs here and there making money to support his family back home. His latest job is working bodyguard duty for a African Prime Minister. Things escalate quickly and Raiden finds himself using his HF Blade to take out a cybernetic PMC group trying to kidnap the PM. Things don’t work out in Raiden’s favor and by the time the second chapter begins, it’s time for Re-vengeance to those responsible.
The game is a basic action game; defeat enemies, move onto next section of enemies, then fight a boss. Your path is pretty straightforward without branching off too much. You are able to explore each level a little to find hidden items but it’s a straight line to each satisfying boss battle. Along the way, there are certain enemies which hide secret data stored in their left wrists but more on that later. Your adventure through each level is chock full of enemies; ranging from the lowly cybernetic soldier to various forms of Metal Gears, even the lovable Moo Cow sounding Gekkos are here for you to turn into shredded cheese. With around six or more enemies on screen at once, you need a pretty good arsenal of attacks to handle them all, luckily Raiden has enough moves to wipe the floor with all these machines.
Revengeance is my kind of action game where you don’t need to spend days or weeks to perfect your combat, you only have to use two different attack buttons. You get a light and heavy attack in which you can string combos together for some brutal looking visuals. Even with the rapid offense, you wouldn’t be able to get far without blocking, especially during boss battles. To block, just aim in the direction the attack is coming from and press light attack. If you wanted to sit there and spam one attack, you could but Revengeance will punish you if you don’t mix things up and punish you hard if you don’t block at all.
Blocking is vital on higher difficulties and by blocking at the right time you can parry an attack which triggers the eye pleasing Zandatsu. What’s a Zandatsu? It’s only one of the greatest moves you can perform in the game, aside from the satisfying moves when finishing a boss battle. It’s an over the top sequence that will show Raiden attack and perform some sort of aerobatic move. At the end of the sequence, time will slow and give you an opportunity to slice your target into pieces. You can also trigger the slow down at any time with the left trigger and Raiden can whip his blade in any direction to instantly kill & slice your target into kibble. A target will appear on the body of your victim showing you were you need to slice if you want to rip out their synthetic spine. Why do this other than the coolness factor? It will regenerate health and electrolytes for Raiden’s Zandatsu letting the player execute more choppy-choppy.
To control these slices, you get a few options. You can press the X or Y buttons to do horizontal or vertical slices or if you want more control, you can whip the right stick in any direction and Raiden will slice in that motion. You wouldn’t believe how satisfying it is to attack an enemy until you see the prompt (they flash slight orange glow), pull the trigger, and smack around that right stick. If I had smiled any harder, I would have had a face muscle explode.
Revengeance uses a scoring system similar to that of games like Devil May Cry or Platinum’s own Bayonetta, rating your performance based on attacks and damage taken. Unlike other games I’ve played with these similar systems, Revengeance definitely had me coming back for more; attempting higher scores even at different difficulties. There is just something so satisfying about the combat that made it neither repetitive or boring. This ends up making repeated play-throughs addicting and covers up the fact that the campaign can be beaten at around the six to eight hour mark on your first run.
When you finish the game, it shows you the hours you spent playing but this figure is a bit misleading as it’s really taking your best completion times for each chapter (minus cut-scenes and retries) and adds them up. My fastest play-through was around four hours on Normal but with the cut-scenes and retries it was closer to 6 hours. If you don’t mind taking a few more minutes to look around, there are some hidden objects to find. There are computers scattered throughout that add VR Missions for fun little challanges, boxes with hidden enemies in them (ala Solid Snake), and data chips hidden in the left wrists of specific enemies. There is a collection menu within the main menu that shows you what you’ve collected and it’s odd. The data chips you collect show real life pictures of people, which I assume are the representation of the soldiers you take them from; they also give first names and blood type. If you find a box with a solider in it, they appear in the collection screen as a statue in a pin-up style pose, with the box; I laughed a little when I saw them.
One of my favorite aspects of Revengeance is the soundtrack. I don’t say that much these days but I enjoyed it so much that I actually got the soundtrack on my personal playlist. It’s during the boss battles that everything just clicks, you get this appropriate head banging track sitting there in the background until you hit key points in your battle; as if to tell the player that you’re about to jump up and go hell yeah! It’ll smoothly creep in when you end up taking control or just plain kicking the living shit out of a boss. The music amps up, you hear vocals come on, and you’re getting goosebumps staring at your TV with your eyes wide open.
The very first boss battle with Metal Gear Ray from MGS2 proves this point. After beating up on him for awhile, you get to a point where he’s shooting missiles at you and you’re jumping from missile to missile chasing MG Ray. Things are blowing up and falling to pieces around you; eventually you find your way to a clock tower, running down the side of it dodging missiles, a laser beam, and debris on your way to slice MG ray into two. It’s an incredible first impression of what is to come and each subsequent boss battle is just as crazy and exciting, thanks to the incredible action and perfect music. The final boss is difficult and it’s got a mix of that Kojima Metal Gear dialogue and crazy Platinum action, making it something you’ll want to talk about to anyone willing to listen.
Platinum Games, with the help of Kojima Productions, have transformed Raiden from an effeminate anime character into a cyborg badass and I’m sitting here asking myself, “did that really just happen?” Bring on Metal Gear Rising 2!
An Xbox 360 copy of the game was provided by Konami for review purposes