Remember that time in Metal Gear Solid 2 when you took a massive Katana to the 50th Metal Gear Ray on top of the Big Tank? I distinctly recall gutting those cows five ways to Heaven as I sliced their innards open in a sweet gory dance of doom. After I ran up ran up their backside and slid down their tails, I stood next to their dropped, inert bodies, sheathing my tool of destruction as they exploded into a rainfall of metal and ash around me.
You say you don’t remember this? Well…neither do I. But that’s how Metal Gear Rising plays, and it’s pretty freakin’ cool!
DATE OF RELEASE:
February 19, 2013 (NA)
February 21, 2013 (JP)
February 21, 2013 (EU)
February 21, 2013 (AU)
The Return of Mr. Lighting Bolt!
It’s been four years since the fall of the Patriots and the SOP system, and PMCS still run amok. Still, some countries have managed to curtail the damage by focusing on security measures and hiring their own PMCs for privatized security. Raiden (or Jack) has joined one of these groups (dubbed Maverick). During one of his escort missions for N’Mani, the prime minister of an unnamed African country, his group is attacked. N’mani is kidnapped and murdered by a rival PMC group, the deadly Desperados. Despite his desire for peace, Raiden is inevitably pulled back into conflict, and he’s forced to deal with a part of himself that he thought he had left behind. It seems a cyborg can’t run from his past.
Same World, New Style
Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance is a canonical spinoff from the original Metal Gear games. Although it retains the same universe, themes, and overall feel of the series, it features a major shift in its stylistic leanings; it’s gone hack and slash. Stealth is now more or less a thing of the past. Keeping to the shadows is no longer a main directive. Instead, you’re encouraged to run into the fracas with your sword swinging every which way. Essentially, what we have here is more Devil May Cry than Metal Gear Solid. Combos are encouraged, although button mashing can be relied upon to get you through weak spots. As the game ratchets up in difficulty, though, you’ll have to adjust to the new system that’s in play.
Raiden is forced to slice-and dice his way through various scores of enemies in order to make it to end of each stage. He has a large repertoire of combos at his command, and as he unleashes hell upon his enemies, it’s as if he’s engaging in a deadly ballet dance of doom. As said before, the game borrows many mechanics from the DMC series. It has its own “devil-trigger” mode, enemies will restore your health depending on how you defeat them, and both primary and secondary weapons can be used to string together combos. Although the game bears much resemblance to the other series, it wasn’t a poor choice for the developers to borrow the games’ mechanics; they work well here. What doesn’t manage to stick is the game’s camera, and its barely present tutorial. Specifically, a few boss-fights in the latter half of the game suffer from the wonky nature of the lock-on system and how it’s implemented here. It is a major bump on an overall brilliant new system, and it dropped my enjoyment of the game rather significantly.
The overall change in design concept may throw you at first. It’s difficult to see Raiden down a Metal Gear Ray by grabbing its massive, gargantuan arms and twirling it into the air. But after a few hours, you’ll buy into the concept. Even though the genre style has shifted into balls-to-the wall action territory, the overall Metal Gear feel has been retained. Tropes that the series has established are prominently featured. The 99-second alert system is in place, the exclamation mark that appears over surprised guard’s head makes its lovely return, and the codec system is here too.
As Snake did in previous titles, Raiden communicates to Maverick through a walkie-talkie like device. Each separate contact has a different channel, and each individual has their own unique personality and expertise. Any of them will be up for a chat with Raiden about the various-goings of the world, from politics, to philosophy, to the inner-workings of a cyborg, they all have their interests. They’re all well-written characters; they’re well-rounded, and their dialogue is believable. Their presence contributes to a well-written yarn that investigates concepts that the Metal Gear Series has tackled since its inception: war, memes, existentialism, and the nature of mankind.
Perhaps that’s what’s most impressive here. Kojima may have only been an advisor for this project, but his influence is heavily seen. The mythology of the series is intact, the heavy underlying themes of the series have not been abandoned, and the trademark humor is ever-present. I was nervous that the series may have lost its unique feel in its leap from stealth to straight up-action, but those fears were unfounded. Metal Gear Rising has a solid story that naturally continues Raiden’s evolution as a character, and it’s worthy of the Metal Gear name.
Rounding it All Up
And that’s reason enough to play the game, even if at first you may be put off by the whole concept. It continues in the vein of its predecessors while also managing to establish its own identity. The game’s camera will surely throw you a few curve balls, and the new mechanics will take some time to learn, but it’s just freakin’ awesome to play a bad-ass cyborg like Raiden. MGS 2 haters have no excuse for whining. Jack is back, baby!