Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance (PS3)

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As a huge Metal Gear Solid fan I’ve been looking forward to playing Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance since it was first announced back in 2009. Raiden is a somewhat underdeveloped character in the MGS saga, so having a full game focused on this emotionally conflicted cyborg ninja is an enticing prospect.

I’ve also enjoyed Platinum Games’ previous titles such as Bayonetta and Vanquish, so when the developer took over the reins from Kojima Productions in 2011 I couldn’t wait to see what these action specialists could do with the game’s original concept of Zan-Datsu (Japanese for ‘cut and take’) which was showcased in early trailers.

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MGR: Revengeance is set four years after the events of Metal Gear Solid 4 and sees Raiden travelling to various regions around the globe in an effort to thwart the terrorist-like activities of a rogue PMC (Private Military Contractor) called Desperado Enterprises. The game can be completed in roughly five hours so the less you know about the story the better. Unfortunately Konami has released a deluge of MGR: Revengeance trailers over the past few weeks which expose practically all its notable scenes, areas and bosses so it would be a good idea to avoid watching these lest you spoil the game’s best bits.

One of the many highlights of MGR: Revengeance is its core gameplay mechanic of “cut at will” which allows you to slice through enemies and your environment in an impressively realistic manner. Not everything in the game world can be cut, however, and you’ll need to have a full supply of Fuel Cells to activate Blade Mode which slows down time and allows you to control the trajectory of Raiden’s high-frequency katana with the right analogue stick.

When in Blade Mode a red square will appear over a portion of your enemy which shows you where you need to cut in order to expose an electrolyte-rich ‘spine’ which Raiden can snatch and replenish his Fuel Cells with. You can also trigger Blade Mode against larger opponents by pressing Triangle and Circle together when prompted which launches Raiden into the air and sets him up for a Zan-Datsu manoeuvre.

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There are plenty of combos to learn, and these become more complex when Raiden obtains secondary weapons from the various bosses he defeats over the course of the game. Performing fluid combos using your katana and secondary weapon is one of the simple pleasures of playing MGR: Revengeance, while sub-weapons such as rocket launchers and grenades can also be used during battle to mix things up. Defeating enemies grants you BP which you can use to purchase new outfits, weapon upgrades and new moves for Raiden.

Some of the stealth-based items at Raiden’s disposal include cardboard boxes and drums – a familiar sight for fans of the Metal Gear series. You can sneak past most of the enemies and sentry-cameras in MGR: Revengeance or dispose of them without being detected, but there are times when eliminating all the enemies in an area is your only option. Once you’re discovered the area is sealed off by invisible walls and you’ll need to defeat nearby opponents to proceed.

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This leads me to my major gripe with MGR: Revengeance which is that there isn’t much to the game besides going from point A to point B, avoiding or eliminating enemies along the way. Besides some entertaining boss battles and a couple of instances where the player is faced with a unique mission objective (such as destroying three power panels), there isn’t much going on from a gameplay perspective apart from killing everything in sight or trying to sneak to the indicated point on the map.

There are a few VR Missions to keep you busy once you’ve completed the game but these also feature simplistic objectives such as defeating all the enemies in an area or reaching a waypoint within a certain time limit.

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What MGR: Revengeance does have going for it apart from a fast-paced, fluid and intricate combat system is an amazing sense of style which is particularly evident during the game’s cut-scenes. These glossy sequences remind me of those found in the GameCube remake Metal Gear Solid: The Twin Snakes and are clearly inspired by action films such as Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. Yoji Shinkawa, mechanical designer for the Metal Gear Solid series, once again demonstrates his amazing talent by creating armour and mechanical designs which strike the perfect balance between style and practicality. Also, I think the realistic way Raiden interacts with his environment during cut-scenes (such as sliding down a wall using his metallic talons) is worthy of commendation.

Another highlight of MGR: Revengeance is the Codec system which has always featured prominently in the Metal Gear series. These optional conversations with members of your support team add a lot of depth to Raiden’s character and feature the kind of philosophical, technology-focused banter fans will appreciate. I’m guessing there is at least three hours worth of Codec conversations in MGR: Revengeance if you wanted to extend your play time and fully explore the game’s occasionally obscure storyline.

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MGR: Revengeance’s graphics look fairly similar to Platinum Games’ previous titles and aren’t as detailed as those seen in MGS4. However, the frame rate moves along at an impressive clip and thankfully there’s no sign of screen-tear. The levels often have a generic look to them and when you’re outdoors the graphics have a grainy quality as if a noise filter is being used (this can’t be turned off in the options menu).

MGR: Revengeance’s most visually impressive environments are saved for boss battles and cut-scenes, which often feature incredibly memorable images which will stay with you long after you’ve put the game down. Similarly, the game’s soundtrack is at its best during boss fights when subtle but highly effective rock music kicks in.

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Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance is one of the most stylish and flashy games in recent memory, but its short campaign and repetitive gameplay prevent it from reaching the classic status achieved by previous games in the Metal Gear series. With more mission variety, more creative levels and a larger roster of boss characters this game could have been legendary. As it stands, it’s still an entertaining and engaging experience which provides Raiden with some well-deserved time in the spotlight.