Reviewed on: Xbox 360 (Rob) and PS3 (Alan).
After going through development hell, surviving near cancellation and being passed on to a new developer, Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance is finally here. With the prestige of the Metal Gear franchise at stake, Rising has a lot of hurdles to overcome if it wants to be embraced by fans and deemed worthy of the Metal Gear moniker.
Rob: Rising takes place three years after the end of Metal Gear Solid 4. After the fall of the Patriots Raiden spent some time with his family before returning to the battlefield, this time working for Maverick Security, a PMC specialising in defence contracts. After the Prime Minister Raiden is sent to protect is killed by a group called Desperado, Raiden is almost killed trying to catch them and has to improve his augmentations and then hunt the members of Desperado down and seek revenge. The story takes Raiden all over the world and as he hunts down The Winds of Destruction (the bosses who are part of Desperado) a plot unravels to try and kick start the war economy again.
Although I would have preferred the original plan for Rising, which was to focus on what happened to Raiden between MGS2 and 4, the story for Revengeance is a strong one and does feel like a Metal Gear story. It has all of the components that you would expect, a group of great bosses, themes such as war and what we pass on to others, Metal Gear, awesome cutscenes, it has everything. The cutscenes are a lot shorter than normal and there is far less emphasis on philosophical meandering (which I think is a shame but many people will welcome) but the voice acting, script and the scenes overall are still top quality. The only real problem with the story is that the main antagonist, who you meet in the later stages of the game, is a real disappointment. After antagonists as good as Liquid, Ocelot, Solidus and Volgin, the final boss for Revengeance is nothing short of a letdown. The concept behind him, his 'powers' and the fight itself is good, it's really good, but as a character, in terms of his personality, he is dull. Still, the other bosses are incredible and the story itself is solid and ends in typical metal Gear fashion.
One thing that is odd is that only one character from the Solid series, other than Raiden, is in this game. I won't spoil who it is don't worry. On top of this no characters are mentioned, not even Snake himself. It isn't surprising because of course Platinum would want to establish a clear identity for Rising that is separate to Solid. Despite this though it is a little jarring and, let’s be honest, at least a mention of Snake would have been pretty awesome. Also in a series that is renowned for ludicrous twists, Rising really has none. The plot isn't really predictable but it is never shocking or surprising. There is no shocking revelation like there were in the Solid series, no shocking conspiracies or character returns. Nothing. This isn't a game breaker but it does make the story, which I must stress is a good Metal Gear story, less engaging and enjoyable.
Alan: Rob has pretty much nailed this part for accuracy except for two things. As Rob has said Rising does have similar themes to the Metal gear solid series, but nothing is in-depth which was always a massive part of the Metal Gear Solid series, MGS would always ask questions about the morals of war and fighting and Rising doesn't. Raiden's reasons for fighting are a bit too obvious and he's far too willing to question them, while Rob briefly mentioned this I think it’s quite important. Personally I hate it, but Rising was always meant to be a departure from the other games in the Metal Gear series with an emphasis on fighting not throwing out philosophical ideas. The other thing that Rob hasn't mentioned is for some reason three years after Metal Gear Solid 4 everyone seems to have become a cyborg ninja.
Rob: The gameplay for Rising is where the game really comes into its own. Rising plays like Bayonetta had a threesome with Metal Gear Solid and Mad World and it is unbelievably fun. The game plays as a typical hack and slash only it features a unique parrying system where you have to attack in the direction of the enemies’ attack. It also has a technique called Zandatsu which allows you to take fuel from regular enemies and replenish your health; this is a vital technique you must use throughout the game. The game is split into chapters, usually around 45 minutes long and featuring a steady stream of set pieces, boss fights opportunities for sneaking and a good mix of enemy types.
At the end of each chapter you can upgrade Raiden's health, fuel and skills, as well as purchase any boss weapons you have acquired and customise Raiden's body. You earn BP for combat and also if you have too many items of a particular type then any further items of that type you acquire turn into BP. As well as using BP, you can collect certain opponents left arms as they contain data that can be used to make special weapons/items.
Throughout each mission there are also terminals to find that unlock new VR missions. Some of the terminals are hidden more or less in plain sight but others are very well hidden. As well as terminals there are also crates that contain items. These can be found by pressing up on the d-pad to activate Raiden's AR view mode which allows him to see items and enemies through walls. Items aren't limited to health and fuel. You can also find smoke grenades, EMP grenades and regular grenades, as well as RPGs and Stingers, boxes and barrels. Some of the items are fairly useless but there is a boss fight that is made infinitely easier with EMPs. As well as all of these you can also find data storage devices which can unlock a special weapon.
By and large the level structure is flawless and the action is so much fun, and the chapters so well sized, that the game's relentless pace never becomes an issue. However there is one chapter which features a part that I can't spoil but is totally unpredictable and yet is almost impossible without EMPs. This caused me to have to start the chapter from scratch as I had already used my EMPS and had no way of knowing that I would need them for this particular part. It is physically possible to do it without them but it requires an insane level of skill, unless you are on easy mode. One thing I also want to stress is that, despite its relentless pace, the game features numerous opportunities for stealth. Where the MGS series is about stealth but let's you play it all guns blazing, Rising is all about action but let's you play it stealthily. Stealth isn't necessary but it is there, it does work and it is fun so if you see anyone complaining that the game features no stealth, its best you just ignore them.
Of course the main highlight of the game is Raiden's Blade Mode. Blade mode let's you cut just about anything or anyone to pieces and not only looks awesome but is easy to control and crazy amounts of fun. It also makes for some awesome set pieces, like ninja running across a barrage of missiles and then using Blade Mode to slice a helicopter in half. All of the gameplay is fun but of all the mechanics the game features, Blade Mode is by far the best.
This isn't to say that the mechanics are flawless however as the camera is, quite frankly, a nightmare. Very often it will move itself into a position where you can't really see anything. It has never caused me to die unfairly or anything like that but it is a near constant frustration. Most of the time though, if you lock onto an enemy, it can be manageable and, though annoying, doesn't ruin the experience.
Alan: The gameplay of Rising is undeniably awesome and doesn't have a lot of problems, but I still prefer M4s and Stingers over swords. One thing that Rob hasn't mentioned enough is cutting up the environment, a lot of environmental items like trees, cars, stands, crates etc can all be cut up to your heart’s content (reaching 100 parts will also provide 100 BP which can be exploited to get BP a bit quicker). One thing about this though (and this is in no-way a criticism) is there is SO much to slice, part of me wants more, I'll see a road that can be destroyed by destroying its supports and I wonder why I can't destroy the building next to me. Also I think Rising is too short and could be better if it was longer.
Graphics and Sound
Rob: Rising is neither the best looking Metal Gear nor Platinum's best looking game. It's pretty but not amazing but this is because they sacrificed jaw dropping graphical power for a smooth frame rate. Even during the most chaotic of fights, under a barrage of missiles, bullets and blades, the game stubbornly sticks to 60FPS, a feat which, given the speed and ferocity of the fights, is truly astounding. There also almost no graphical bugs or issues throughout the entire game, the textures are solid, the draw distance good and everything stays smooth.
The models for the characters and the designs for Raiden and his foes are all really cool. Each enemy type is distinctive and the bosses are all fantastically designed. The environments are a little more dull but they still look good and to be honest they only really need to serve as a means to an end for the awesome combat to have a place to happen.
As always the sound for the game is amazing. It lives up to the Metal Gear standard by featuring world class, but as always a little over the top, voice acting. The script is solid and each performance is convincing. Quinton Flynn really outdoes himself as Raiden here. The soundtrack is equally awesome. The game mainly features fast paced rock and metal songs which perfectly compliment the over the top action and really make you feel like a badass.
Alan: Again I agree with Rob about graphics and character design, the only fault I've found is lips didn't seem to sync up right with the sound, however Rob couldn't see it so maybe I'm going crazy, maybe I need to get my eyes checked. I can't decide if I like the soundtrack or not, the music does help to get you pumped up and matches the feel of the game, and yet its missing the same impact that the music from other Metal Gear games has.
Rob: Metal Gear Rising Revengenace is a game that is a perfect representation of its protagonist. I doubt Platinum did it deliberately but Revengeance is a game that rushes in head long, brimming with confidence and power, but has cracks which let its troubled past show through, much in the same way that Raiden is strong and confident but is flawed due to his troubled background. In many ways this makes the flaws of the game seem more acceptable and, to be honest, with the developmental hell that the game endured, coupled with the fact that its Platinum's first stab at a Metal Gear game, these flaws are acceptable anyway.
Metal Gear Rising is a true Metal Gear game and is a fantastic spin off. It would be nice to have Kojima focus on the Solid series and have Platinum fill in the gaps with Rising games but ultimately only time will tell. As gamers though, if you like Metal Gear and have an open mind then you will find a lot to love here and should definitely go out and buy this right away. Right now I'm going to go and start another play through of the game.
Alan: When I first played Rising, I thought it was cool, but I didn't really like it, but now I've completed the game three times (admittedly on easy, I'm not very good at these sorts of games). Throughout the review I've compared Rising to the Metal Gear Solid games, but I shouldn't (I shouldn't, but I can't help it), I think this game should be talked about as a Rising game not a Metal Gear game and if I could see it that way I know it would be a game I'd fall in love with, but for me this game is overshadowed by the Metal Gear Solid games as they're almost perfect examples of the type of game I can get really addicted to. Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance is a very good game and I would urge everyone to buy it, but I'm always aware that it seems to be missing something, nothing I can put my finger on, but there is something.