Review: Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance (PS3)
Title: Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance
Format: Blu-ray Disc / PlayStation Network Download (18.5 GB)
Release Date: February 19, 2013
Developer: Platinum Games
ESRB Rating: M
Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance is also available on the XBOX 360
The PlayStation 3 version was used for this review.
After playing ‘Vanquish’, I instantly became a fan of Platinum Games. It was all kinds of insane action and beautiful, over-the-top visuals. Then Konami announced that these same specialists were taking the new action-oriented Metal Gear game over, and that’s when I got really excited. Initially, I was pretty uninterested in the then titled ‘Metal Gear Rising’. It looked interesting, but there just wasn’t anything there that made me say “wow”. With the project laid in front of the masters at Platinum Games though, I knew that the potential was pretty insane.
The audio review for this game is available on Episode 307 of the podcast.
Revengeance is pure, heart-stressing action from beginning to end, all with that ‘Metal Gear’ ambiguity and flair. The core mechanic implemented here is the ability at any time to precisely slice anything in your vicinity. You are limited, a bit, by the amount of energy that your katana possesses, but you really have go into a pretty crazy spree to run out. When you hold L1, the game slows down, and shows a solid line indicating where the blade of your sword will slice through. This precision is actually key in certain instances, especially when you’ll need to acquire a body part from a specific enemy, or in later battles when you’ll need to hit certain points of armor to make an opening for your blade to strike.
The Precision system works wonderfully, and quite frankly, it gets a bit addictive once you learn how to work the system into combos. Your cyborg body is designed to absorb the energy from fallen combatants, but the only way to do so is to hit the Circle button after you’ve sliced through a specific point on an enemy, a point that’s indicated by a small red box. You’ll have a short amount of time to go into ‘Blade Mode’ and hit that point successfully, and if you do, Raiden goes through a sequence ending in ripping the spine or power unit out of your fallen foes, which he then absorbs. It’s a sequence you’ll see MANY times, but it still looks cool and at the same time vicious every time.
Your main weapon will always be the Katana, but you’ll also attain secondary weapons along the way which all allow you to create more unique and complex combos, and will extend your reach as well. On top of those, you’ll also pick-up items throughout your journey including different grenades, launchers, and BP, which is used to upgrade Raiden and his implements between chapters. The secondary items are activated by holding L2, then if applicable, hit R1 to fire/activate. One of the best items though, is the auto-regenerate health, which refills your health if it’s completely depleted. I believe that you can have up to five, and they’re invaluable with a few complex bosses. Some of the bosses have complex patterns and attacks, so being able to auto-revive while you’re trying to figure out how to counter the attacks is a very good thing.
Another mechanic that’s essential is the ‘Ninja Run’, allowing you to slash while running around to avoid being cornered. After you’ve applied some key updates using your accumulated BP, more moves will be available, including a sliding attack that can confuse your enemy long enough to get a throw attack in. Also, while you’re in ‘Ninja Run’ mode, Raiden will automatically cut bullets out of the air, and he’ll also traverse obstacles like jumps or slides in tight situations. This mode is activated by holding R1, and trust me, you’ll use it quite a bit.
One thing that you’ll need to master immediately is the Parry system. It’s detailed in the tutorial, and I highly recommend that even if you went through it in the demo, go through it again before you start the game. My biggest mistake was that I forgot that you can NOT parry when in Blade Mode, and in the higher difficulties, your timing will need to become increasingly precise. Later on in the story, you’ll need to parry like a champ to succeed. It’s an essential piece of your arsenal, and honestly, mastering it went better than I’d expected. I’m not great at games in this genre, but even still, I became quite adept at pulling the moves off and effectively taking multiple foes out.
It may all sound complicated, but it’s really not. Sure, you don’t have that awesome boost from ‘Vanquish’, but Raiden is definitely a complete badass, and quite the efficient killing machine. The story happens a few years after the events in ‘MGS 4’, and even though you don’t need to have played it, but if you did there are plenty of references to make you smile. Obviously, I don’t want to spoil any story elements, but it stays true to the ‘Metal Gear’ formula of ambiguity and a bit of the crazy. It’s a fun story though, and completely captures the soul of the ‘Metal Gear’ franchise.
Overall, controls are excellent, especially with the added ability to lock-on to certain enemies using R2. But, as I feared after playing the demo, the camera is definitely the worst part of this experience. It doesn’t break the game, but it will infuriate you at times (especially a couple of the boss battles.) Fast-moving enemies have a tendency to purposely move behind you, completely out of your sight line. Also, they will shoot around quickly to disorient you, but when they finally move in for the attack, again, it may be completely out of your sight line. R2 helps, but there are still times when you will yell something like “oh come on!” The camera is though, the worst thing about this game. Again, it doesn’t break the game at all, but I guarantee that it will frustrate you.
There are numerous unlocks including character cards and concept art. The art is pretty cool, but the character cards I have no idea what they really are. I’m guessing that they’re characters in the game that you’ve either cut their left arm off, or maybe their heads. I looked through the manual, but it’s only a couple of pages and really only details the available controls.
Something else that can unlocked, either by attaining certain goals in the game, but also by finding and activating hidden terminals through the game, are the ever popular VR Missions. These are specific missions set in a VR environment, that cater more to the score chasing mentality than getting only through the objectives. There are 5 or 6 training missions in VR, then you’ll move on to the actual missions, all of which get increasingly complex and difficult as you progress. These have appeared in other iterations of the ‘Metal Gear’ series, so their inclusion is welcome not only for the historical aspect, but also as additional gameplay.
It does seem that there’s a definite replay ability here if you’re a perfectionist, especially if you want to improve your ranking in specific points in the chapters. As expected in a game like this, you’re not only graded on the time it takes you to complete an objective, but also on style and combo points. With Revengeance not including a multiplayer mode, the fact that they foster multiple plays through and the extra content is encouraging.
In true Kojima Productions and Platinum Games fashion, the visuals in ‘Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance’ are stunning. Everything about this game oozes the style and theme that you would expect from both of these developers, and it never disappoints. Character designs range from the ridiculous to creepy to downright batshit insane, and every one of them looks fantastic. Framerate is fast and smooth, only stuttering when data is being loaded, but never during actual gameplay. They do a great job at masking load sequences with numerous cutscenes, either in-game or canned, and because of the need for a break in the fast-paced action overload, they never get annoying. Also, there’s enough story to make these cutscenes enjoyable, because hey, it’s a ‘Metal Gear’ game, so a discussion with one of the stronger bosses about honor in battle makes total sense here.
Seriously, everything in the visuals department is pretty awesome in Revengeance. As you’d expect from a Kojima tile, the cinematic elements can at times make you feel like you’re watching a movie. They never get as long or drawn-out as a “proper” ‘Metal Gear’ game, but again, that soul is definitely present. Animation is fantastic, and the action is visceral on many levels. The fact that after you’ve beaten an enemy down, you can precisely slice the top of his head off only to show what’s inside, is something not seen very often. You’ll be able to slice almost everything you can see, although be careful when you’re leaving the beach, because I took down my only route to the street and had to start the level over. Effects like smoke and specular lighting abound, all while the use of color and shine wow you at every turn. The screen is always filled with life of some kind, and when you press up on the d-pad, the ‘Augment Mode’ for scanning your surroundings helps you find what may be lurking behind the next corner. It’ll also help you find the numerous items scattered throughout the levels, some of which can be extremely valuable.
As with the visuals, Revengeance kicks your ears around like they owe it money. The use of surround is constant, and everything in the world has a specific sound. Voice acting, overall is good but can also play a bit on some stereotypes. If you have some good gaming headphones, this is a game that you can make your friends jealous with. There’s so much to envelop you in the experience, and you’ll have a smile on your face for the entire time.
‘Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance’ is Single-Player only.
I’ve really been anticipating this game for a while now, and judging by the long lines at events like E3, so are many others. It definitely met my expectations, which were quite high. Yes, the camera can be annoying at times (mainly when a battle is in an enclosed area) but that’s really my only gripe. The story is fun, and at the same time funny at times. Even though Kojima Productions didn’t develop this title, it feels like they did. There are little nods all over the place, including at least two appearances of a Ninja Cat! I played through my first run in two sittings, because both times I completely lost track of time as I made my way farther and farther toward the conclusion. My first play through I played on “easy” and I attained a “C” grade (that’s how much I’m not very good at these kinds of game.) I now started a second game on “normal” and the difficulty has definitely ramped-up. There’s also a “hard” setting, which for me is simply frightening to even fathom. There’s a good deal of content on the disc, and even better, you don’t have to be a fan of the ‘Metal Gear’ series to enjoy it, although that will help a bit in trying to understand the story.
You really do get a lot of bang for your buck with this one, and all of that anticipation is paid-off pretty early in this one. Despite the occasional issues with the camera, ‘Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance’ is a winner through-and-through, and one of the best action games I’ve played in a long time.