Everyone loves ninjas, right? Fighting ninjas, scantily clad ninjas and of course cyborg ninjas. So it’s natural for everyone to gravitate towards a hack and slash game with one of the best cyborg ninjas ever to exist. That’s right Sektor and Cyrax, you best move over! Raiden is here, and not the one with a funny hat… well actually he does have a funny hat. But it’s the cool Raiden with swords, not the god of thunder, and he is cutting his way through mechs, men and mechanical men for our pleasure.
Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance was first announced as just Metal Gear Rising, and was being made by Hideo Kojima and his team over at Konami a few years back, but the team struggled with the development of a purely hack and slash game and the game was thought to be a lost cause. Several years later the penny dropped and the game was passed on to arguably the best hack and slash designer on the planet, Platinum Game’s Hideki Kamiya.Renowned for his work on Devil May Cry and Bayonetta, it seemed that MGR had found the perfect place to thrive, and in late 2011 the game was back on track and garnering interest once again.
In terms of placing, Revengeance finds itself several years ahead of where MGS4 had finished. Raiden is now working as a mercenary of sorts under Maverick Enterprises, and has been tasked with the protection of a President. During this mission Raiden fails and is left for dead by a group of terrorists with an ideological plan to kickstart the world to a better place through your typical bat-shit crazy evil villain plot. Think along the lines of “kill everyone and then there will be no fighting” or something to that effect, but not quite as stupid. This tirade slowly becomes personal for Raiden, and he finds himself more than invested in stopping the man behind this evil corporation who see fit to pick on the weak. The story is pretty damn good, and we see many anime style moments that we have grown to expect from Platinum. But what’s more important is that we see Raiden grow as a character, a badass one at that.
On top of the story itself the cinematics are to die for. Nothing quite beats some slo-mo swordplay when both sides look like their muscular robo arms are about to burst with plasma. Slow motion aerial dismounts in to oceans and running on missiles to the chagrin of the pilot firing them has never looked better. The cinematics are the kind you would expect from a MGS game. They can be lengthy, but there is that little Kamiya twang that just picks them up and add an element of comedy in some truly tense situations…. although at times I did feel myself wondering when I would get to play.
Accompanying the truly fantastic cinematics is some really great, adrenaline-pumping music including face melting solos when blades screech down to the hilt and heart-racing bass that complements the fast paced action and astounding cutscenes. Naoto Tanaka, who was responsible for the music in Anarchy Reigns, has hit the nail on the head once again and everything just flows. The music feels like a mix between metal, rock and a tiny bit of dance. If they had skipped some of the overly dramatic vocals it would have been perfect.
The combat feels vaguely familiar in terms of hack and slash games. You have your light and heavy attacks, and a subtle blend of both (mixed with a few directional inputs) will lead to some crazy combo where limbs will fly as you bathe in a pool of your opponents blood. Within the intricate combo system there is also a parry system, which at first can seem very counter-intuitive as you need to hit a directional input and light attack. There were many times where I would parry because I had missed an input and I’d end up losing my train of thought, but like any hack and slash game mastery of the mechanics become vital in latter play and you will find yourself seamlessly intertwining parries, evades and attacks in to massive strings as bodies hit the floor around you.
What is truly unique about the combat in MGR:R is the blade mode and Zandatsu finishes that Raiden can perform. After a certain amount of damage has been dealt to a character (or a characters limb) they will be doused in a blue hue that notifies you to cut them up. And cut them up you shall. With the use of either “X” and “Y” buttons, you may slice vertically or horizontally, or alternatively you can use the right analogue stick to swing away until that once giant mech is nothing but glittering metal dust dropping to the floor. There is a great deal of satisfaction that comes with the maniacal spinning of the right analogue to the subsequent demise of your foes, and if you manage to hit the red box and follow up by pressing “B” there is a more than satisfying finishing move in which Raiden will remove a part from their body and regenerate his own health and power. These Zanadatsu kills can range from simply pulling the item out from within the enemy, or cutting them to ribbons.
The re-playability of MGR: R really lies with whether or not you’re a high score perfectionist or you are a glutton for punishment. There are several missions that can only be unlocked through the discovery of in-game artifacts. These missions are available to you at any time through the campaign by the way of VR, like in other MGS games. You also have varying degrees of difficulty too. You might even want to go back and build up enough BP to wear the Mariachi outfit at all times, because the only thing better than a cyborg ninja is a cyborg ninja in a sombrero and poncho.
Although there is some level of replayability I would have to say the length of the game is devastatingly short. After my first completion my game clocked in around the four hours and thirty minute mark, which is amazing considering I thought some bits I had done terribly poorly in. Even to go through the story again wouldn’t prolong your experience enough. In fact, you are more than likely going to find a speed run would take less than 3 hours once you’ve mastered the games and upgraded all your weapons and abilities. You’d find yourself hard pressed not to glide through the game with ease. There are areas in the game where you are introduced to some side games and extras that are only really used once. They could have done a wee bit more with them if I am being honest. It was this lack of depth or expansion on so many points that left me feeling a little underwhelmed.
Not only was the length a bit of a let down but the overly fidgety camera was something I couldn’t quite overcome. While it was jittering around like a scene from Cloverfield, Raiden would frantically lock on to what felt like random enemies and attack in the wrong direction. If there is something you don’t want to do, surely it’s finding yourself with your back against a wall and unable to see the maelstrom of metal and chaos in front of you, whose life ambition is to kill you.
Another big issue I had with Revengeance was the lack of pacing. Out of the eight chapters there was no way of judging how long you would be stuck in a mission. Sure you can save at any time, but maybe you just wanted to complete it. There was a point where I was stuck in a one and a half hour mission only for it to be followed by 2-3 missions that were around the ten minute mark. This pacing just really bothered me and left the game feeling a bit slapped together.
Overall I did really enjoy Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance, but it’s a bit much to splash forty quid for less than a days play again. There are a few unshakable issues that just ruined it for me. Visually the game is spectacular, and Platinum have done the franchise justice with some insanely fun gameplay, but the justice is short lived and often feels out of place.
70,000 tiny cut up mech pieces out of a possible 100,000