The development of what was once called Metal Gear Solid: Rising has been a tumultuous one. First announced at E3 2009, Rising was shown in a simple teaser trailer with a tagline of ‘Lightning Bolt Action,’ and stating that ‘Raiden is back.’ We didn’t see much of it for a year and the game was originally cancelled back in 2010.
But the following year, Hideo Kojima requested the services of Platinum Games to work on the title again. Now renamed Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance, the game is based on full action, removing more of the stealth features that we know from the Metal Gear series.
Normally this would be a huge disappointment for me, but in this case it isn’t. After all, Platinum Games also developed Bayonetta, a very fast paced hack and slash action game that surprised many critics, myself included. Now they were bringing the same formula to Metal Gear Rising, and for most of it, they pulled it off!
Rising takes place in 2018, four years after the destruction of GW and the end of the Patriots control over the free world. Private Military Corporations are still in use, and Raiden is now part of one such PMC, Maverick Security. Raiden is in an unknown African country escorting Prime Minister N’Meni, but their convoy is attacked by another PMC, Desperado Enterprises. N’Meni is abducted and eventually murdered, and Raiden himself is seriously injured.
A few weeks pass, and Raiden goes after Desperado and encounters a plot that includes collaboration between Desperado and another PMC, World Marshal. In particular, a plot from Senator Armstrong involving using children’s brains for cybernetic soldiers, a new form of child soldier similar to those in Raiden’s own past.
The evolution of gameplay coming from Platinum Games will be accessible to anyone familiar with Bayonetta. Combat is very fast, and controls are based the same way: X for light attacks, and Y for heavy attacks. But MGR includes a feature that was highlighted before the developer switch: the ability to slash in any way possible. With a press of the left trigger and moving the right analog stick, Raiden can swing his high frequency blade in any direction.
Even further, the game’s concept of ‘Zandatsu,’ or ‘cut and take’ is implemented. By cutting in the right spots, Raiden can take energy from destroyed enemies and use it to fill his health and electrolyte meters.
Usually a successful Zandatsu is shown by a quick time event, and I wish that I could say that’s the only time quick time events are used in the game, but they happen a bit too frequent for my taste. They aren’t used the entire game, thank goodness, but I wish there were less of them, especially considering the length of the overall title. On normal difficulty, the game’s eight chapters can be beaten in about 5-6 hours. But like Bayonetta, Rising can be considered a score attack game, and trying to get an S rank for each chapter and all the VR missions encourages replay value.
Visually, the game is impressive. Platinum’s goal was to make Rising run at 60 frames per second, and they succeeded most of the time. I noticed some slowdown when under very stressful Blade Mode attacks, but aside from that it is lightning fast. All of the environments are richly detailed, but I noticed some issues with the cutscenes. It’s as if they tended to get out of sync on occasion.
That is a bit of a shame because the voice work is pretty darn good. Quinton Flynn reprises his role of Raiden once again, and with each game he gets more and more vicious. Gone is the whiny human Raiden from Sons of Liberty and we have the successor of the much-improved cyborg Raiden from Guns of the Patriots. I do have to wonder though if Quinton was channeling Christian Bale’s Batman for Rising, as his voice is starting to sound more like it.
The music, however, is unbelievable. We are used to the orchestral soundtracks from Harry Gregson-Williams in past MGS games, but now it is a new soundtrack composed by Jamie Christopherson, and it takes on a whole new level. Each boss battle has its own unique vocal soundtrack, and at times I felt like they could rival Ron Wasserman’s works on Power Rangers. The Collector’s Edition is to include a CD of the game’s soundtrack, and I wish I had it because it would be perfect for my game music collection.
Usually games that are resurrected from cancelled status do not fare well. We recently have seen that with Aliens: Colonial Marines. But thankfully that is not the case here. I’m glad to see Rising come out, more so in its new Platinum Games identity. Fans of the Metal Gear series and Bayonetta will easily fit in quite well, but for those who are looking for a challenge, and yes I do say challenge as this game is brutal, do give Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance a shot. You will not be disappointed.
Pros: Raiden meets Bayonetta and it’s a perfect match! Raiden just gets more and more badass with each game. Attempting higher ratings encourages replay value. The soundtrack is unbelievable, not like anything else in the Metal Gear franchise.
Cons: The camera is a pain to deal with, especially when in Blade Mode and when using Ninja Run on boss battles. A little too many quick time events for my taste. Difficulty is brutally hard and the timing of your parries is quite strict. Story mode can be beaten in 5 or 6 hours.
Reviewer’s Note: Special thanks go out to Michael Dodd from This Week In Geek. Without his help and guidance, I might not have finished the game in time for this review. Check out his podcasts at www.thisweekingeek.net.