Monday, February 25, 2013

Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance Review

There are some games that just scream fun. Whether it's a racing game to blister your friends on the track, tear through opponents in some gory fighting games, or popping domes in online shooters, these games are pure enjoyment. Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance can add itself among them.

Set 4 years after the events in Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots, the world is still reeling after the fall of the War Economy, a program created to solidify the global market using conflict around the world. Cyborg soldiers were used by privatized companies to keep the Economy functioning. After the fall of the program, many of those cyborgs, who found themselves suddenly out of a job and without purpose, chose to align themselves with one of two branches. One side formed privatized security companies, dedicated to training and securing developing nations, keeping the peace and helping to establish new government leaderships to promote an end to all conflict. The other side discovered they liked war a little too much. Cyborgs were created to fight the war, and ending it didn't suit their purposes. These soldiers refused to follow the idea that it was time for peace, and set out to create global catastrophes to bring about new wars.

The game begins with Raiden working for Maverick Security Consulting, Inc. When an assassin kills the Prime Minister of a country they have a contract with, Raiden goes into action, turning every enemy he comes across into small bits with a sword that can literally cut through anything. Humans, cyborgs, large metal monsters, even fences aren't strong enough to withstand his attacks. After chasing the assassins through the city, he eventually reaches a train they have boarded. Confronting them, Raiden goes blade to blade against a fellow cyborg ninja (cyborg ninjas. How cool is that?). Bested by a more skilled opponent, Raiden loses his eye and is slowly bleeding to death before the assassin is chased off by a couple of gunships.

Weeks later, Raiden is back in action as a fully customized cyborg. He looks incredibly formidable and his skills have been taken to the next level. Going through mission after mission seeking the assassins who have all but destroyed the man he used to be, Raiden begins to uncover a sinister plot that seeks to destabilize the world and plunge it back into chaos once more. Disturbing experimentation programs have been restarted that Raiden is quite familiar with. At one point, the game reaches a level of sheer horror.

While this game has Metal Gear in the title, this isn't a continuation of the Metal Gears Solid franchise. This is a brand new character with a brand new environment. Occasionally the writers bring up some familiar aspects of the older titles. A secondary character makes a short appearance, and a few others are mentioned. A couple of events also surface, but these are more rare. Luckily, this game really needs no exploration into the past. Gamers new to the series will have no problem understanding the story as it unfolds. You do get a few hilarious moments that give a shout-out to the past titles, including using a box as a portable sneak cover.

A lot of the current generation of social issues rears their ugly heads in this story. Unmanned drone attacks, corrupt government officials, backdoor deals, multiple conflicts around the globe. All of these make an appearance. Whether these are subtle insinuations at the actual state of the world can't be ascertained, since all of these have been subjects used in media portrayals of the future for decades. It is possible that gamers could be reading more into these than what actually exists, but that actually makes the game even more intriguing.



The game is not without its flaws but these are rarely even noticeable. A couple of cutscene glitches don't even appear unless you are specifically looking for them, and while the camera system can be downright annoying sometimes, the lock-on system quickly rectifies that. Boss fights can seem particularly scaled, and not always properly. Some of the earlier boss fights seem difficult to figure out, but once you find a way to combat their attacks, they are quite easy. These early bosses will also make a regular appearance during the rest of the story, so recalling how to defeat them becomes routine. Others like the end bosses, can be frustrating. Blocking is a large part of survival, however some bosses have attacks that cannot be blocked and sometimes cannot be dodged or stopped. You will need to keep a close eye on your health bar, since you will inevitably take some hits. The final boss battle is incredibly annoying, since both dodging and blocking will end up getting you obliterated.



The cinematics are beautifully done, and the voice acting is high quality. One of the best features actually comes from the interaction between cutscenes and the gameplay. As soon as the cinematic is finished, you are immediately thrust into the fight with a very short loading time. When it's installed on a console, the wait time is barely ever an issue.

Where the game really shines is the combat. Fluid and extremely precise, it takes the experience to a whole new level. Enemy AIs are usually pretty smart and know how and when to dodge Raiden's attacks. Quick timed events make an appearance, but they do so very inconspicuously and do not really get old for one reason: Blade mode. Depressing the trigger allows for incredibly accurate swings that make it very simple to remove a head or sever a limb. When your fuel gauge is fully maxed out, activating blade mode slows down time, allowing for multiple slashes of your sword at a rapid speed. Utilizing these methods when an opponent shows a damaged part, such as an arm or armor plating, will quickly make short work to remove those areas. These also show up during mini-boss fights as well as the bigger bosses as well, indicated by a suddenly blue tinted screen, and marked by a Japanese character (symbol). It also is one of the central components of Revengeance and you will be using it thoroughly.

When you read the "Revengeance" part of the games title, you most likely read it as "Revenge Vengeance". Early in the game you realize that it is more redemption than revenge. Using his sword as a "tool of justice" Raiden is determined to make up for past mistakes. Try to wipe the blood clean off of his soul. Later on, when faced with a realization that he isn't necessarily killing unfeeling bad guys, Raiden comes to a conclusion that he no longer embodies justice, instead it really is revenge. Revenge for the wrongly used. Revenge for the poorly treated. Revenge for the innocents slaughtered. Vengeance for all of those who have been hurt. Raiden becomes his nickname, "Jack the Ripper". And then things get interesting.


While the game is relatively short, (about 6-7 hours not counting any VR missions) it gets in a lot of action in that time frame. In fact, playing the game in small increments is recommended, since your adrenaline can get pumping during all of the combat. Since the game is 99% combat with about 30 seconds of stealth necessity, you're going to run out of adrenaline within a matter of hours. Ultimately this game will forever earn a place on the gaming shelf for the same reason Goldeneye did. It's fun, fast paced, and loading up a favorite mission to just waste some time or burn off steam makes you forget the outside world for a bit.

Pros:
  • Fun and fast paced action
  • Enjoyable combat system
  • Intensely gritty and dark story
  • Voice acting is very well done
  • Outstanding gameplay
  • Sharp and fluid controls
  • Boss fights are very challenging
Cons:
  • Rare visual glitches
  • Final boss is scaled significantly higher than your character
  • Slight camera angle issues during combat or sneak missions
  • Political atmosphere seems pushed
Overall Score: 9.5/10

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