Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance was almost never made. Originally announced in 2009 as Metal Gear Solid: Rising, the title failed to pick up steam at Kojima Productions, who quietly cancelled it in 2010. After a mulligan with Bayonetta developer Platinum Games, Revengeance was reborn, and the Metal Gear legacy lives on.
But did the collaboration help?
Yes, even with the cheesy speed metal, it totally helped.
Revengeance takes place three years after the events of Metal Gear Solid 4. With the Patriots gone, private military companies have become the norm, blurring the lines between peace and war. Raiden (a.k.a. Jack – the protagonist), who works for Maverick Security, fights to secure peace while rogue PMCs commit acts of terrorism, taking advantage on the mayhem of post-Patriots society.
One terrorist organization in particular, a group called Desperado, is out to reek havoc across war-torn nations. After a treacherous battle with Desperado’s leader, Raiden takes it upon himself to stamp out the terrorists. This decision comes at a price, however, as Raiden is haunted by the demons of his child-soldier past.
If you’ve never played a Metal Gear game before but are interested in this one, fret not; while Revengeance does have some nods and allusions that fans will adore (including one cameo that made me smile), for the most part, this is a brand new set of characters created by Platinum and Kojima.
Even the game’s cut-scenes set it apart from others in the Metal Gear legacy. Platinum’s focus on action has made the direction of the scenes much crazier, almost akin to MGS: Twin Snakes with its ultra-fast cuts. They don’t feel as long as usual, but that may be a temporal illusion, with quick transitions from slicing limbs to intricate monologues about the military and cyborgs. If you do want to slow things down, you can always consult the Codec for background information and MGS lore. As a long-time fan of the series, it’s definitely worth checking out, even if just for the moments of cute humor.
With the transition from stealth-shooter to cyborg-ninja slice-and-dice, the gameplay is drastically different than it has been in the MGS series. Instead of waiting in the shadows and disposing of your enemies one-by-one, you’ll be running up to them and cutting them down as quickly as possible. The real treat here is Blade Mode, which lets you slow down time and cut in every direction using the right analog stick. Often times you’ll fight cyborg soldiers and once they’re defenseless, you slice them into bits. Surprisingly, this never seems to get old. Even when you’re just cutting down the environment around you (trees, watermelons, etc.) the same truth remains; it’s ridiculously fun to cut things.
Cutting isn’t just for fun, though (as mothers everywhere will attest). It’s a necessity in the game, since Zandatsu is a driving force of the game, which means “to cut and take.” When you’re in Blade Mode, you’ll cut in a certain direction, causing a button prompt to appear. After following the command, Raiden will grab the offending cyborg’s guts to replenish his health and electrolytes for Blade Mode. It’s great when you’re low on health and need energy quick. When your electrolytes are full, you can go into Ripper Mode and go simply crazy with power.
Occasionally, you might run into a section where you can choose to play stealthily. The sneaking isn’t as deep as in traditional MG titles, but that’s not what Platinum was going for. You’re free to engage enemies and still have a super enjoyable fight scene or you can use a box and sneak up behind people to stab them. Both options are pretty satisfying, but don’t beat yourself up if you mess up a stealth section—eventually everything will be destroyed.
When you’re outnumbered, you might want to go on the defensive, and Raiden has a trusty parry move to counter foes. By moving the left analog stick in the direction of the attack and pressing the light-attack button, he will attempt to deflect incoming attacks. Be warned: mastering this move didn’t come as quickly for me as I might have liked, and if you’re not a quick learner, you’ll get beaten down quickly. There’s a boss battle that literally hinges on the fact that you’re good at parrying by its point in the game, so don’t disregard it, but be prepared to learn it painfully. That said, once you do learn it, the timing becomes second nature. Just make sure you’re not button mashing. For less experienced players, there is a parry-assist mode in case you need it or VR missions if you want to train.
Aside from a couple of levels, each major section of play ends with a boss battle, pitting Raiden against different leaders of Desperado. Mistral has a staff, Monsoon has a sai and the ability to separate his body and Sundowner will blow you up. They all have their patterns and throughout each battle, quick-time events will guide you through insane situations. These range from jumping on missiles to going into Blade Mode and cutting the boss into as many little pieces as possible. The best part? You get each boss’s weapon after emerging victorious, Mega Man style.
The couple negatives I could find with Revengeance was in its difficulty. I played through on Normal and, on occasion, I’d find myself thwarted by a ton of enemies. If you’re not thinking or playing correctly, you’ll go from 100% health to 10% in a matter of seconds. For some, this is appropriately hardcore, while others will grieve over the game’s intermittent mercilessness. Not to mention the camera can get pretty insane at times to line up when cornered due to all the intensity.
After nearing the end, my save reported a play-time of just over 6 hours, which doesn’t factor in retries or cut-scenes. That might seem like a short game to some, but it honestly didn’t bother me too much. The game holds a great pace of intense action that never drags. You’re never far from the next scene of frantically slicing things into millions of pieces. There’s also a New Game Plus mode, which ups the replay value as you try to outscore your friends’ level rankings. Even when you’re finished, there’s plenty of hidden collectibles to find for concept art and data.
By the end, Revengeance has become one of my favorite games from Platinum. It combines elements from Bayonetta, Vanquish, God Hand and Viewtiful Joe with those from one of my favorite series of all time. It takes the action we saw from Raiden in Metal Gear Solid 4 and makes it completely playable, with rare stumbles. It might be frustrating to some action fans but for all the pain it’ll deliver, there’s plenty of pleasure in return.
Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance was developed by Kojima Productions & Platinum Games and published by Konami. An Xbox 360 copy was provided by the publisher for review purposes.