Metal Gear is one of those series that separates players into two camps–you are either a diehard fan or you just don’t understand it. The series has consistently contained amazing cutscenes, fantastic stories, and lots of exciting stealth combat and gameplay. With Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance (MGRR), Kojima Productions passes the Metal Gear torch over to Platinum Games, giving us a brand new style of Metal Gear gaming–hack and slash.
MGRR‘s story revolves around Raiden, private military contractors, war, assassins, evil politicians, orphaned children, and lots of cyborgs. The plot thinks more of itself than it ought to, trying to suck the player in with elements of revenge and atrocities against orphans. There are a few cameos from the Metal Gear universe, as well as nods to long-running jokes and situations within the series. Regardless, the story falls flat and just feels like an excuse to change out the bosses and locations during gameplay.
With a weak story, MGRR relies heavily on combat and pacing to keep players invested. Players will begin by mashing one of two buttons to eliminate waves of enemies. As your skill grows and you unlock more moves, your options during combat increase. You also unlock new secondary weapons, and powers for Raiden’s items and cyborg body. One of the first things you learn is how to wield Raiden’s sword. Certain objects, a few environments, and all the baddies are subject to being sliced and diced into tiny pieces. Blade Mode allows for special attacks in which time slows nearly to a halt, letting players use extreme precision to cut off vulnerable body parts or slice through explosive armor safely. It doesn’t take a lot of skill to weaken an enemy’s arm in combat, then hack it off in Blade Mode to collect their data stores for rewards. It does require patience and an appreciation for tedium, though. Some people may find the precision slicing fascinating; it is an impressively smooth system that works nearly flawlessly. After clearing two or three levels’ worth of bad guys in this fashion, the charm begins to wear off. The same enemies are constantly rotated at you throughout the levels and, regardless of any freshly unlocked weaponry, the combat begins to feel stale.
The action is fast paced, helping to alleviate the repetition slightly. Having fast paced combat only counts for so much, though. MGRR doesn’t require the players to up their game by learning new moves or using different weapons. The option is simply there and left to the gamer to make use of it. You could beat this game using nothing other than your sword and some button-mashing. I’m sure the idea is to allow gamers to play MGRR at their own comfort level, but it gives no incentive for gamers to learn and explore the combat, other than to make Raiden look “cool” while fighting. Platinum Games included a few options for gamers to play through MGRR stealthily–they even encourage doing so both in dialog and with achievements/trophies tied to playing this way. However, the stealth feels like an afterthought, being both incredibly limited by the controls and difficult to accomplish thanks to the linear layout of the maps.
The graphics in Revengeance are spectacular, really adding excitement to the gameplay. There are explosions, chases, high drops off rooftops, and cutscenes that will knock your socks off with crystal clarity. The music is fitting for an “action” hack and slash game, primarily consisting of fast, melodic metal.
Achievements/trophies are the driving factor for replay value. There are awards for killing so many types of enemies, performing certain types of kills, destroying certain objects, not being seen during certain levels, etc. It isn’t difficult to quit and reload checkpoints in order to get some of these, but replaying fights over and over to remove all enemy limbs gets frustrating and boring. On my first play-through I managed to get just 20 achievements for 300 points. I wasn’t using a guide, I just wanted to see what I could get by playing the game naturally. With help from a walkthrough, most of the awards could probably be attained after playing the game a few times.
MGRR looks like a Metal Gear game on the outside with characters, cameos, enemies, and a cutscene or two done in the same fashion. It is a spin-off of the series, and meant to draw in fans of a different genre while trying to not completely abandon their hardcore fans. It is an above average hack and slash with an interesting combat design, but it unfortunately lacks variety and a storyline that a Metal Gear game should require.
Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance gets 3.5 out of 5.