I’m about an hour into Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance, and I find myself going through a checklist of things I’ve already done so far. I’ve destroyed a Metal Gear RAY with its own arm, debated with an android-dog (with chainsaw attached to its tail), opened a security gate by using the arm I cut off of a soldier, and wore the worst disguise I have seen in recent media. The levels of absurdity rise alongside the gameplay timer and I think to myself, “How much more of this can I take before absurd turns into plain stupid?”
To say Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance (formerly Metal Gear Solid: Rising) is finally out today is a little weird. I’ve been looking forward to this game for many years now. When it was announced, back in 2009, MGR was supposed to be a story to link Metal Gear Solid 2 to Metal Gear Solid 4. In other words, this was supposed to be the story of how Jack, the new member of FOXHOUND, turned into Raiden, the bad-ass samurai-ninja-cyborg we saw in MGS4. Well, after realizing all they had was a cool mechanic and idea, the game was scrapped. Kojima Productions didn’t know how to make the game they wanted to they just let it fall into oblivion. Then, in 2011, Platinum Games stepped in, took control of the project, and changed the setting of the game.
It has been four years since the events of MGS4 and Raiden lives in a new, peaceful, world. The need for Private Military Companies (PMCs) has dwindled and Raiden works as a contractor who trains ex-soldiers to work as security. Everything is going well when a new PMC shows up and wrecks everything Raiden has worked towards.
Telling a story in a game like MGR can be tricky on a few levels. On one hand, you have the equivalent of a summer blockbuster. On another hand, you’re dealing with the team who made Bayonetta. And on a third hand, you need to tell a Metal Gear story. So in other words, you need explosions, crazy set pieces, more explosions, insane nicknames for every villain, and the best/worst (depending on your sense of humor) typed of weapons you can find. It works if you don’t take it seriously but it works much better if you’re in on the joke.
I’m not the best at the action game genre. I’m good, but I cannot keep up when the difficulty is cranked up. I beat Bayonetta easily enough, but got my ass kicked on the second play though. With that in mind, MGR is an easy game to beat once you gain an understanding of the game’s mechanics. All you really need to do is flick the control stick and attack in the direction of the enemy who’s attacking you and you will parry anything it throws at you. It took me a while to get this down only because I was so used to the way other action games played. I tried locking on to an enemy, then I tried blocking their attack and, when those failed, I realized that you cannot block, lock, or roll. So that’s weird. Having an action game with no lock-on, block, or dodge mechanics is absolutely insane. Then again, insane is exactly what MGR is: frustrating before fun.
Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance isn’t a bad game. It’s just a very different game. When you throw away any preconceived notion of what action games should be, you’ll find yourself having a great time playing MGR. The use of Augmented Reality (AR) and Blade Mode really make the game its own thing. It’s just the pacing that almost always kills the mood.
In between battles, you can turn on your AR vision to see the location of nearby enemies, point out the things you can shred, and any nearby treasure. This works well both within the fiction and throughout the game. The cybernetic enhancements in your eye allow you to see the people who constantly call you at every checkpoint. Of course you will need to talk to your teammates from time to time, and this works better than completely stopping to make your calls, but I would like to explore without Doktor telling me to find the next doorway. The amount of calling isn’t as bad as the amount of exposition within the calls. When you receive a call, you face-chat with whoever is calling you as Raiden slowly walks. In almost every instance, you will walk to where you need to be about half way through the conversation which ends up with Raiden standing there, waiting for the call to be over; cause that’s cool. The AR is not all bad though. I had a good time exploring the environment. And in one mission, you’ll need to sneak past enemies in a pitch black environment and, since you’re a cyborg, the AR works incredibly well.
The environments don’t do MGR any favors. You are either raiding a base, infiltrating a lab, or wrecking a city in future Colorado. But that doesn’t really matter because you will be in your enemies’ faces, tearing them apart. Seriously, Blade Mode is fun! When you weaken an enemy, you hold down the left trigger and flick the right stick in any direction to have Raiden slice an enemy. You can flick as many times as you want as long as Raiden has the energy to do so. As you swing your katana, you see the enemy just split open and, if you hit them the right spot, you can proceed to rip out their spine and crush it in your hand. This is always entertaining! You shred a guy to pieces, and use all your energy doing so, and then when you rip out his spine, you get all your energy back! So then you do it again and again! You can even rip out the robot chainsaw-tailed dog’s spine! Sometimes, you’ll need to go through a small quick time event, but that always ends with you shredding the dude up!
If you somehow don’t have the time to manually slice an enemy in pieces, you can activate Ripper Mode which spends all your energy but greatly increases your power. It also shreds enemies for you. It’s a shred-n-go. And it leaves a trail of blood. It’s just what a game like MGR needs.
It won’t take a long time to finish MGR. My first play through clocked in at about 6 hours. But, of course, beating the game once isn’t everything. There’s a plethora of collectibles from enemy IDs (you get from slicing of specific enemies’ left hands), titles, and figures of enemies posing on cardboard boxes. Also you get to start a new game plus with all your upgrades so earlier bosses won’t stand a chance.
Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance isn’t for everyone. But it is a lot of fun. It’s full of blood, terrible nicknames, and a pole arm made up of arms. If these things sound like fun, then go and get this game. I must also commend Mark MacDonald and his crew at 8-4 for their exceptional job at localizing this game. Metal Gear Rising Revengeance is full of great jokes and puns that I will go back just to see again.