When I hear Metal Gear, the first thing that comes to mind is long cutscenes, obscure storyline, giant robots and stealth gameplay. Metal Gear Solid was the game to own a original Playstation and each game just keep getting better, when the Solid Snake story arc ended in Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots, fans of the series were questioning where the series would go from here.
The answer seems to be a series of spin-off titles, starting with the PSP Peace Walker and “The Phantom Pain” which we still don’t really know if it is a Metal Gear title. The latest spin-off though is as far away from Metal Gear as they possibly could go, moving from stealth game, to a bloody hack-and-slash title featuring a cyborg version of Raiden.
The story for Metal Gear Rising is actually fairly cut and dry for a Metal Gear title, Raiden now works for a Paramilitary Corporation (PMC) called Maverick, who are in the business of establishing governments and protection. On a mission gone bad thanks to attack by a rival corp called Desperado, Raiden failed his bodyguard duty in which a newly established leader was killed. Raiden sets out to take Desperado down by fighting it’s generals and finding out more on what is happening.
What really shines here is the gameplay, moving from the stealth style that followed Solid Snake to a more fast pace hack and slash style. Originally there were quite a fan uprising over this claiming that this is not how a Metal Gear game should play, but after playing just even a little bit of the game, all doubts go away.
The Combat system is similar to Platinum Game’s other titles like Bayonetta, Raiden has access to light and heavy strikes with his Kitana which can create devastating damage and combos. The combos are reminiscent of Ninja Gaiden, where the combo list is there but you’ll find the best combos usually appear while your button mashing your way through the combat. Raiden also has more than his sword to slice and dice his opponents, with boss giving you new sub-weapons to replace your heavy attacks, mines, rockets and grenades also come into Raiden’s arsenal.
Another twist in the combat is the Blade mode, kind of like a bullet time or focus mode that allows Raiden to focus where he’s cutting, allowing him to slice specific body parts. It’s not the first time we’ve seen this kind of mode as it was in 2009’s Namco Bandai’s Afro Samurai, however it is done right in MGR. These blade mode attacks allow you to gain extra experience points to unlock more moves and bonus, as well as gain you access to the opponent cyborgs healing gel, which is usually located in their stomach or spine. When the gel is available, it prompt you to do a special attack where Raiden will grab it from them, rip it out and crush the piece effectively healing him in the process. This will only work as long as the body is in the air and does not touch the ground.
Of course it cost to pull this move off, Raiden’s body needs Electrolytes in order to run Blade Mode and more of the bigger attacks. He can gain Electrolytes automatically by attacking opponents, the bigger the combo the more power he can get to generate the Blade Mode, or if your proficient enough you can fully charge the Electrolytes by grabbing the healing gel. It’s a quick give and take process that works for a lot of rage/focus/special modes that you see in games, but in MGR it seems to run out quite quickly without the proper upgrades.
Despite the main focus on the action, it seems too easy to die in MGR, with health items being rare and the only other way is to get up close and personal with the Blade mode, it’s something that causes a lot of frustration. This is especially true when fighting enemies like the Geckos and big “normal” enemies like that. This difficulty mainly comes with the game’s block system which requires you to hold the attack button, this is where the term “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it” comes in, in terms of a brawler like this there is a reason why a lot of people making that kind of game copy God of War. It becomes programmed into our minds that a trigger/bumper should be used for a block thus allowing us to just pick up the game and feel like a badass.
Another shinning light on MGR is the bosses, and like all the bosses in the Metal Gear series, they are very messed up. With Metal Gear Rising your main villains are cyborgs generals that are part of Desperado, dubbed the ‘Winds of Destruction.’ One of the coolest designs is Mistral, the teams only female member who has a cyborg frame that allows her to pull the arms of Tripod enemies to make a whip or a spear, leaving her with multiple arms at her disposal. All the major bosses are just as interesting and like other bosses in the series provide some deep thought to why they do what they do.
Hack and Slash be damned, this is still a Metal Gear game. From the long; yet gorgeous cutscenes, philosophical discussions about war and the use of cyborgs/unmanned armies via Codex, as well as some over the top moments. Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance is nothing short of amazing.