Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance Xbox 360 Review

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Watching Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance move through its development process has been quite a ride since the game was first announcement back at E3 2009. Originally, the game began as Metal Gear Solid: Rising and was flaunted with this new mechanic of being able to cut in any direction you wanted. As time passed on from its E3 unveiling, Metal Gear Solid: Rising was absent from events and no one knew what was going on; this was because Kojima Productions were finding it hard to design the game around its advertised cutting mechanic. Without acknowledgement to fans, the project was cancelled. In the end, the project was reborn after Kojima ended up meeting with Platinum Games and asking for their expertise to be brought on board to help bring the game back from the dead. When you are making an action game based on a cyborg ninja, then there really is no other team you would want working on it but the masters of over the top action and amazing, intuitive combat mechanics, Platinum Games, and they have kept their pedigree up with Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance.

Initially, the plot for Revengeance was not supposed to be canon, but towards the end of the development cycle one of the released trailers mentioned that the story would be part of the Metal Gear universe. Looking at the overall story arc of Metal Gear, Revengeance’s story slots in four years after the events of Metal Gear Solid 4 and has you in control of the lame-dude-turned-cool, cyborg ninja Raiden, which fans might remember promising to give up the life of a fighter at the end of the last Metal Gear game. He is back in the action, and making money for his family by working for a private military company (PMC) named Maverick, who is trying to stop another PMC group, Desperado, from terrorist attacks and the production of cyborg child soldiers – sticking a child’s brain in a robotic body. This is a topic that hits home with Raiden, and becomes his main motivation to put a stop to all these troubling problems and political corruption. The story is eccentric and over the top, something you kind of expect with a Metal Gear game, but it is an enjoyable ride from start to finish, and is sure to entertain with some amusing dialogue and awesome cinematic scenes, while just about scraping an small amount together that relates it to the franchise.

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Revengeance is a completely different ball game to what you have come to expect from Metal Gear – it’s purely an action game that builds upon some tropes from franchise entries, but mostly just tries to do its own thing with unique combat mechanics and fast paced gameplay. Think of it as Konami’s entrance into the pure-action, hack-and-slash genre that includes such greats as Bayonetta, the Devil May Cry series and the Ninja Gaiden series (well, not Ninja Gaiden 3, we know what happened there). With Platinum Games behind the helm, a company that arguably created one of the best in the genre, then there are some high expectations going into this game. Nearly all of them are met, and Revengeance manages to rise above some of my initial impressions I had with the game (see what I did there).

Let’s kick off with the meat of the game – the combat. Platinum Games have given Revengeance a very distinctive mechanic that is based around Raiden’s use of a Japanese blade, the Katana. For starters, there is no dedicated block button in the game. Instead, you have to master the key art of parrying attacks – a fundamental and highly required move that you HAVE to use to become good at the game – and this is all about precise timing. Parry too late and Raiden will get pushed back from the enemy, parry a little late or a bit early and Raiden will simply block the attack, but parry perfectly and Raiden will automatically counter with a blade swipe, which you can then follow on with a combo. To activate a parry, you need to press light attack and a direction at the same time. Do this correctly within an allocated time window and Raiden puts up his sword and holds a stance. It is intuitive and clever to stick the mechanic on the same button as attack, because you can simply cancel your move into a parry when you see the enemy about to bust out a move while you are hacking away. Parrying becomes second nature after a while, and I found myself beginning to react instinctively to an enemy’s attack. Revengeance does its best to keep you on the offensive side, and that makes the game feel like it is relentlessly pushing action your way throughout the duration of the campaign.

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Another refreshing inclusion is Zandatsu, which in Japanese translates to “cut and take.” Initiating Blade Mode with the use of the LT when having enough energy zooms the camera behind Raiden’s shoulder and enables him to use the right stick to slice and dice his opponent into chucks of flesh and metal during slow motion, then rip out that enemy’s blue, glowing electric spinal cord of energy and smash it, which transfers into a full bar of health and energy for Raiden. There’s a ton of fun to be had by dismembering people, and the game even throws additional – optional – tasks at the player, such as dissecting a left arm of a soldier so that you can open a locked security door. Playing the game on medium difficulty does not show the effectiveness that ripping out these robotic cords has, so you may find yourself not bothering after the initial fun wears off, but stick the difficulty up and you will find that the constant refill of health and energy is a godsend when Raiden often dies in a few hits. The Zandatsu is a sneaky, if brilliant, way to keep the action going without stopping for the use of items. Speaking of items, sub weapons are included, such as heat seeking rockets, but most of them are so anticlimactic compared to using the sword that they just aren’t worth using. A special mention should be given to the box, which I will get onto later.

While the action is fantastic from start to finish, the additional weapons you gain from the game’s bosses are not as fully utilised as I would have expected, especially from a game developed by Platinum Games. The standard is Raiden’s high frequency blade, which has light and heavy attacks signed to the X and Y buttons. Additional weapons, which include a pole, a sai and a pair of pincher blades, are used as the heavy attacks and each all have their diverse usage, such as the sai allowing for long range attacks or to pull you towards the enemy when you are in the air, but I simply preferred using the blade and being able to switch between heavy and light attacks. You can blend light sword attacks with the additional equipped weapon, but not all of them blend together well. Additional upgrades, such as more health, energy, weapon upgrades and even new moves for all the weapons, such as slash evading and air launchers, can be bought with BP that you gain from killing enemies and finishing stages.

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It was not long ago when I reviewed the reboot of Devil May Cry, in which I stated that one of the problems I had with the game were the boss fights. They were simple and straightforward, but Revengeance doesn’t suffer from the same malady. The boss fights in this title are exceptional and extremely diverse. I do not want to spoil too much, but fighting a boss to head banging rock music that gets more empowering as the boss becomes closer to death is exciting. I have no doubt that people will enjoy tackling and bringing down the members of Winds of Destruction.

You are probably wondering what the link is with Metal Gear in the title, and to be honest, apart from staring Raiden and having one returning character, this could have been completely voided of the Metal Gear name, but that is not the case, and for fans, there is some elements of Metal Gear Solid that sneak into this game. For starters, some areas can be finished by completely avoiding fights. Simply get behind the enemy and initiating a one hit kill move before they spot you. Becoming spotted brings the trademark “alert” status that the series is known for having, then you are put back into the action and annihilating foes again. One easter egg I liked is the inclusion of the cardboard box that you can use to sneak around and then pop out and stab some unknowing suspect and retreat back under it. A fun and amusing time, but either way, stealth or not, it’s entirely up to you how you beat each chapter of the game.

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I have been on a quite a high praise for the game so far, but it’s certainly not without fault. The camera can be problematic at times, especially when you are in doors and in compact areas, as it can push itself closer to Raiden and completely block your view. In the middle of a battle, this can be a pain because the key mechanic of parrying requires you to press the direction of the opponent and attack, so you can imagine what happens when the camera flips out while you are trying to do this. Also, this being an action game, I feel Revengeance is broken up a little too much with forced parts that require you listen to the codec calls, which leaves you without much to do much while you wait for the dialogue to be over. It is nowhere near as long as what you get in the main Metal Gear Solid games, but it might put people off who just want to fight. You can also skip them if you do not care for the story.

Revengeance is not that long of a game, although the clock time is not your real game time, since this only includes action time and not cutscenes, dialogue scenes or retries from death. My time was just under five hours, but I had recorded my play session which counted around eight hours. This is a game that thrives on players replaying to perfect those S ranks and work their way up to the hardest difficulty, which is funnily enough called Revengeance.  As presentation goes, you are getting the production values and great voice acting work of a title that bears the Metal Gear name. It’s also worth mentioned that Raiden experiences schizophrenic changes in attitude; sometimes it is fine, but some codec calls happen at the wrong time, such as when Raiden has calmed down but suddenly goes back to his Ripper identity during an optional codec call that feels completely out of place for where you are in the game. On the graphics side, Revengeance looks brilliant, and for the most part it holds the 60 fps action steadily, only dropping sometimes when you are chopping up fools in blade mode or hacking a lot of the environment.

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Kojima made the right call to bring in the help of Platinum Games, as they have shown time and time again that they know how to make good action games and Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance is an example of the studio showing how they understand the genre while building on a concept that originally did not start as theirs. I can imagine some Metal Gear fans might not enjoy this style of gameplay, but if any are willing to give it a shot or if you are a fan of high paced action, then you owe yourself to jump into Revengeance’s stylish and exceptional top class gameplay and have a slash of a time.

9/10

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Version tested: Xbox 360

Also available on: PS3

Developer: Platinum Games

Publisher: Konami

Genre: Action, Hack and Slash