Metal Gear Rising Revengeance preview: a Solid legacy
by Ozzie Mejia, shacknews.com, Dec 7, 2012 12:00AM PST
When Platinum Games was attached to Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance, I had little doubt it could be a potentially great action game. But, I didn't think it could be a real Metal Gear game, especially as its focus was taken away from stealth. After playing the first few hours of the game, I realized I was wrong. The action in Revengeance not only stands up to Platinum's other hits, but the game carries on the stealth legacy of its Solid predecessors.
Rising focuses on the exploits of Raiden in a new narrative that takes place several years after the events of Guns of the Patriots. Revengeance is deeply rooted in the events of MGS4, exploring the consequences of the fall of the Patriots, and the ramifications for cyborgs and the war economy. A bald-headed cyborg menace named Sundowner and his ridiculously-named samurai accomplice, Jetstream Sam, embark on a quest to spread war across Africa. Raiden looks to take down the terrorist cyborgs set before him, but he quickly learns that the war isn't as black-and-white as he originally makes it out to be.
In spite of featuring ninja cyborgs fighting giant robots, in typical Metal Gear fashion, the story is quite heavy-handed. In fact, I get the sense that the story starts to take itself a bit too seriously. I appreciate the philosophical questions it tries to raise, such as whether the killing of terrorist underlings is justified. However, it's difficult to accept these questions in light of the game's encouragement to cut enemies into as many pieces as possible. I feel like Revengeance's story is trying to have its cake and eat it too.
Combat in Revengeance is very focused on being on the offense. In fact, Raiden doesn't have a traditional block. Instead, he must parry enemy attacks by attacking right before an enemy lands a strike. Succeeding triggers Slice Mode, where players can slice enemies in whatever direction they want in bullet-time slo-mo. It's still gruesome.
Another key facet of Raiden's repertoire is his Ninja Run. By holding R2/RT, Raiden can swiftly jump across platforms and leap through tight spaces. It's not unlike free-running in the Assassin's Creed series, albeit faster. Not only does Ninja Run enable Raiden to dash, but it makes him automatically block machine gun fire from enemies.
Boss battles help keep things varied, by pitting Raiden against other cybernetic mercenaries with their own respective gimmicks. One such foe is Monsoon, a cyborg with magnetic powers that he uses to break his segmented body apart at will. Trying to strike him like any other enemy proves to be a bad idea, as he'll simply move shift parts of his body away from harm, even while Raiden is in Blade Mode. Successfully striking him requires parrying his attacks and stunning him long enough to get a combo in. Monsoon would break up his normal attack patterns by leaping up to a faraway building to launch large hunks of metal my way with his magnetic powers. After these sequences, the battle returns to a battle of attrition, only ending once Raiden lands enough hits to deplete the boss's health bar at the bottom-right corner.
Usually depleting a health bar will trigger a cinematic QTE. While these sequences enable the over-the-top action players expect, they interrupt the game's flow. Annoying, defeating a boss requires successfully completing a series of QTEs, resulting in a fail state if I missed any cues. It proved to be an annoying coda to what had otherwise been an enjoyable battle.
Metal Gear traditionalists will be happy to learn that there is a surprisingly great emphasis on stealth. The first three missions that I played all had portions of the game that allowed me to proceed without getting into a scuffle, some featuring security cameras that I had to sneak around before carving them up. However, unlike this game's predecessors, there didn't seem to be a lot of consequences to getting spotted. Enemies and robots would rush me, but Raiden is a far superior fighting machine to Solid Snake. Each time I was spotted, I would simply tear through any opposition like a hot knife through butter.
As graceful as Raiden is throughout Revengeance, the same can't be said for the game's camera. The camera has a lot of trouble keeping up with Raiden's quick movements, which particularly becomes troublesome with the game's parry system. Because the parry is almost entirely dependent on the camera position, I found it difficult to perform when the camera is facing a random direction.
Revengeance may be cut from a different cloth from the Solid series, but it is unquestionably a Metal Gear title, through and through. Beyond the heavy-handed story, over-the-top boss encounters, and surprising stealth sequences, you can see the Metal Gear DNA in nearly every aspect of the game, from Raiden's Codec to the cardboard boxes scattered in the environment. Eleven years after MGS2 introduced the world to Raiden, Rising finally makes him feel like a worthy successor to Snake's mantle.