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Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance

Score: 85%
ESRB: Mature
Publisher: Konami
Developer: PlatinumGames
Media: DVD/1
Players: 1
Genre: Action

Graphics & Sound:

The word "revengeance" is so mindblowingly stupid that it makes me cringe every time I read or hear it. Now that I've got that off my chest, I can tell you why Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance ::shudder:: is worth your time and money. This wonderfully over-the-top action game is perhaps the first to fully embody the "slice-and-dice" descriptor that is attached to so many other games out there. It's got some kinks, it's a little on the short side, and its storytelling is nowhere near the standard set by its spiritual brethren, but this is a thrill ride you should take.

Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance is kind of a mixed bag of eye candy. On one hand, the animation work is absolutely stellar; no surprise here, since Platinum gave us Bayonetta and Vanquish. Somehow, some way, they managed to make the superhuman actions of a cyborg ninja make complete physical sense. The environments are hit and miss. Most of them take place in a series of admittedly boring industrial locations, but one mission takes place in the urban sprawl of a futuristic Denver. All the non-moving objects tend to be on the bland side, at least as far as textures are concerned. Back when the game was simply known as Metal Gear Solid: Rising, the "Cut what you will" tagline seemed ridiculously ambitious, especially when seen in the context of the trailer. Maybe too ambitious: while it is indeed neat to carve up destructible elements of the environment, not all of the items fall apart realistically. It's still fun, though. Enemies, on the other hand, are a joy to dissect. (Does that make me a bad person?) The Zan-Datsu animations are insane and grotesque, but awesome nonetheless. The weak spot is the self-righteous camera, which is so confident it knows what you want to look at, despite the fact that it is sometimes utterly wrong. A lock-on system might have remedied that, but there isn't one.

Metal Gear Rising's sound design is also a mixed bag. Quinton Flynn reprises his role as Raiden, but his delivery is wildly inconsistent. At times, you can tell that this is the same guy who took down Solidus Snake all those years ago, but at other times, he sounds like he's trying to unleash his inner Solid Snake. The throaty growl does not work with this character, and while I get that this character has a dark past filled with blood and rage, it's too much at odds with what's already been established. I'll cite the scene from Metal Gear Solid 4 in which Raiden (with no arms and carrying his sword in his mouth) arrives to save an ailing Snake. The unsettling yet calm delivery of "I am lightning: the rain transformed" was enough to wipe clean his poor first impression in Metal Gear Solid 2. The rest of the voice acting is passable, if stereotypical (Boris is keen on calling you "tovarich," Doktor sounds like he's auditioning for Dr. Strangelove, and Sam sounds like he's ready to put a rose in his mouth and whip out a guitar). I loved the music, despite my distaste for lyrics sung during boss battles. It's a perfect mix of heavy metal and electronica. Just like our augmented psychotic hero.


Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance is set after Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots. It's probably safe to assume Solid Snake has at last earned a peaceful death, as he is nowhere to be found here. Jack, codename Raiden, is working for a private military company known as Maverick. He is assigned to protect N'Mani, the prime minister of an unnamed African country. The mission goes completely sideways when cyborgs from rival PMC Desperado show up and violently murder the prime minister. Raiden loses his left eye and left arm in a battle with Sam, an incredibly powerful swordsman on Desperado's payroll. Of course, this would piss anyone off, so Raiden receives a new body and sets off to raise some hell for Desperado. It's not nearly that simple: soon after his deployment, Raiden stumbles upon Desperado's involvement in a truly insane and morally inconceivable conspiracy that involves the theft of children's brains, an assassination attempt on the U.S. President, and the aspirations of a United States Senator. Did you get all that? Don't worry, I'm not sure I did, either. While previous Metal Gear games can certainly be accused of having balls-out ridiculous storytelling, Metal Gear Rising fails to make its story work.

But this is a Platinum production: we don't need a good story in order to have a ball with their games. And so it is with Metal Gear Rising. As Raiden, you make your way through a series of linear missions, pausing at times to fight off cyborgs and mechanical monstrosities, talk to your teammates, or hunt for items.

Of course, this game was built for combat. Metal Gear Rising's combat system is classic Platinum. Stellar fighting animation? Check. Lengthy command list? Check. Potential for stylish combos on the ground or in the air? Check. Outrageously over-the-top quick time events that don't wear out their welcome? Check. Most of this game consists of simply running forward and interacting with things until you find yourself fighting enemies. And that's okay, because the combat is extremely exciting.

A few sequences hearken back to older Metal Gear games in that they encourage stealth. Raiden is pretty much a ninja, after all, and a ninja's primary weapon is stealth. His options for stealth are limited, however. You've got standbys like the cardboard box and the steel drum, but they aren't much fun to use in a game that is as lightning fast as this one. Raiden's best option is to make use of his agility and flank his enemies from above. Running on rooftops and silently dispatching enemies is a thrill, but there aren't enough sequences like these.


Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance's default difficulty setting makes for an experience that is way too easy. You can run into each encounter and mash buttons wildly until you get the telltale flashes of golden light that indicate that your enemies are ready to be minced up into hundreds of bloody little pieces. As long as you know which attacks you can parry and when you need to parry, you won't have any trouble at all. This game showers you with restorative items; keep your supply of nanopaste on standby, and you'll heal back to full health automatically when you need it most. Remember this when you take on the game's final boss, who is uncharacteristically difficult. He hits hard and is tough to evade in spots.

Upgrading your body and equipment goes a long way in making Metal Gear Rising an empowering (but easy) game. Using the BP earned in combat and through pickups, Raiden can purchase new skills and upgrades for his weapons. These upgrades range from weapon strength to fuel cell efficiency. That being said, Raiden is very powerful from the start of the game; these upgrades simply turn him into a more efficient killing machine.

Game Mechanics:

Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance has a serious gimmick at its disposal, and it's a pretty entertaining one. We've seen it in movies, comics, and anime. Badasses whose swords are so sharp they are capable of slicing things perfectly into halves. Or thirds. Or fourths. Metal Gear Rising is perhaps the first video game to fully deliver on that fantasy. Raiden is so strong, and his blade so sharp, that he can bring down a bridge by slicing through a support or two. But what's great about this is that you are in complete control of his abilities.

Sure, you can slice a fire hydrant in half with a simple button press, but if you enter Blade Mode, you can adjust the angle of your cut. With a few deft flicks of your thumb, you can reduce the fire hydrant to a series of pepperoni-shaped discs. This can be applied to enemies. Once you've sufficiently worn them down, you can slow down time and cut them in any way you choose. My personal favorite method for taking bad guys out involves sliding under them, launching them into an aerial prone position, entering Blade Mode, and turning my blade into a fan that slowly turns the goon into jerky as he passes through the flurry of steel.

You earn BP for either dismembering or destroying your foes, but you can go for a violently satisfying coup de grāce in the form of a Zan-Datsu kill. Slicing through the center of your enemy (marked by a square) exposes his cybernetically enhanced spine, which contains his precious electrolytes. If you press a certain button after this cut, Raiden reaches in, rips the spine clean out, and crushes it in his hand, replenishing his health and fuel automatically.

If Metal Gear Solid 4 left you with the desire to play as Raiden again, Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance was made with you in mind. At its core, it's a fairly standard action game, but its selling points are strong enough for me to give it an honest thumbs up.

-FenixDown, GameVortex Communications
AKA Jon Carlos

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