When Konami originally revealed that it was working on a Metal Gear Solid spin-off called ‘Rising’, featuring cyborg ninja Raiden, in 2009 the gaming world perked up its ears and got excited with the prospect of a sword wielding cyborg. That is of course until the game was nearly cancelled due to Kojima Production’s lack of experience and expertise in third person actions games to pull this off. Platinum Games has a proven track record within exactly that genre and was announced in 2011 to be developing the game re-branded as Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance with Kojima’s oversight to ensure the game will be true to the Metal Gear saga.
Platinum Games has most recently brought us Bayonetta and Vanquish which were two absolutely fantastic action games, well received by critics and fans alike. With an experienced developer on board and the series creator Kojima making sure that Revengeance becomes unmistakably Metal Gear, the game has a true shot at becoming something great but the truth is, we really didn’t know if Raiden’s standalone story was going to be any good.
Well, it turns out that the mix of Platinum developing and Kojima at the helm of ensuring the brand is true to its unique style and rich universe, was the better decision than cancelling it because Revengeance is not only a breath of fresh air but an absolutely superb game from the top shelf of the third person action genre.
Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance is an ultra fast paced action game that is also Metal Gear to the core of its being with a new touch of gameplay finesse that only Platinum Games can deliver in this space. It doesn’t take long to realize that Revengeance is set in the Metal Gear universe with the backdrop of Private Military Corporation (PMC) splinter groups running the war economy in a world filled with violence and a struggle peace and stability. Raiden is the center of ‘Maverick Security’ – a security company that strives to keep peace in this post Patriots world in the wake of Metal Gear Solid 4’s events.
Revengeance picks up about 3 years after Metal Gear Solid 4 – the fall of the Patriots happened quite long ago – and Raiden is a highly trained and efficient cyborg that wields a katana blade with the ability to slice through concrete, cars and of course the cybernetic foes of ‘Desperado Enterprise’ – the main enemy of Revengeance and one of the new-age rogue PMC splinter groups that run today’s war economy. In the beginning of the latest entry into the series Raiden’s motivations are fighting for the helpless and protecting their rights and lives but he is constantly conflicted with anger from his past. In Revengeance we find out more about Jack’s backstory – who is known as Raiden or ‘Jack The Ripper’.
Raiden will travel the globe during Revengeance, which is a revenge story at heart, and not only face off with cyborg soldiers but also some of the toughest but most fun bosses we have seen in recent years. Platinum Games has created a fantastic and authentic Metal Gear world with the help of Kojima Productions and includes unique and eccentric NPS and enemies alike, is filled with Codec conversations and plenty of the series signature hallmarks like the Alert (!) sound. There is no question – players will know this is a Metal Gear game.
Back to the Alert (!) sounds for a moment – when I heard the noise of an enemy being alerted and a (!) appearing over his head, I used to get worried or upset when I was spotted in previous stealth based games from Konami, in Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance this very sound put a grin on my face as I knew: it was time for action! Platinum has a way of creating exciting and precise combat gameplay that makes it incredibly fun to play their games. Revengeance is no different.
Raiden is a master of his ‘High Frequency Katana’ which he uses to annihilate enemies by the dozens, including mini bosses and the toughest of opponents in the game. While there are some stealth based areas that have their advantages, I often ignored ‘the box’ and pulled out my katana.
Raiden has an uncomplicated mix of light and heavy attacks at his disposal which can be upgraded throughout the game. Offense is the best defense in Metal Gear Rising. While Raiden will need to block enemy attacks with a light attack parry, he will then counter with jaw dropping combo attacks as he spins, jumps, slides and massacres his foes with such an artistic manner that even martial arts fans will approve.
Along with upgrades to the move set, Raiden will also improve his health and energy cell capacity which allows him to trigger the signature attack of Revengeance – the ‘ZanDatsu’ mechanic in which time slows down, the camera zooms in and players can cut enemies into bits and pieces in slow motion – including full Metal Gear Gekkos – and grab their energy core which Raiden will than rip out of them and crush, ending with a satisfying snapping sound effect and a recharge of his health and energy meters. Even though this happens over a hundred times in the game, it is satisfying every single time it happens.
The storyline, characters, boss battles and cut scenes of Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance are as crazy and over the top as ever and keep true to the lore of the series. The same goes for corkieness and humor – there were more than a few occasions in which Raiden spoke with the German doctor, the soviet veteran Boris or even Bladewolf that had me smirking and going back to the Codec for more. Revengeance is filled to the brim with Kojima’s signature Metal Gear style.
There wasn’t much to be said about things I didn’t like about Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance but I will give them a quick mention here. At times the camera had a hard time keeping up with the high octane, super smooth combat and made for some frustrating restarts during boss battles as this is not an easy game. Revengeance is not a cake walk at all and even on the Normal difficulty setting a very challenging game that will require more effort than your average action game. Being able to employ some patience and strategy will be quite important if you want to see the end of this Metal Gear title.
Apart from the minor gripes I had with Platinum Games’ take on the series I have to say that Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance is one of the most polished, robust and fun video games to have shipped this year and a more than deserving entry into this prestigious franchise. Kojima Productions and Konami can be more than proud of Raiden’s side story – the combat, once mastered, along with the rich universe and set of characters make this game close to a masterpiece, Revengeance has earned the right to be called a Metal Gear game.
Score: 9 / 10
Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance was developed by Platinum Games and published by Konami for Xbox 360 and PS3 on February 19th. A retail copy of the Xbox 360 version was provided to us by Konami for reviewing purposes.