Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance for PC Review

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As you may or may not know, I’m on a quest to play through the canon Metal Gear games in release order and I think the worst is behind me. I feel like the rest of my Metal Gear journey is going to be relatively smooth sailing. Not that any of the games I’ve played so far are terrible, but I do feel certain elements have been improved for the better as the series progressed. Metal Gear Solid 2 introduced a lot of cool features, Metal Gear Solid 3: Subsistence introduced the superior camera, and Metal Gear Solid 4 streamlined the controls. Peace Walker is an easy game to jump into and I feel it handles the whole army or squad management thing better than Portable Ops did. The next game is not a traditional Metal Gear game. It is in fact a hack and slash action game and my research tells me it may be canon which is good enough for me because it was co-developed by PlatinumGames and I enjoy their brand of action. I found some quotes from Metal Gear series creator Hideo Kojima that states the story is a “continuation of the saga” and “it’s sort of a parallel story”. I didn’t find anything from him that outright states it’s canon but also nothing that states it isn’t.

Developed by PlatinumGames and Kojima Productions and published by Konami Digital Entertainment, Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance was released for PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 in February, 2013 and PC in January, 2014. For this review, I played the PC version. Rising has quite the backstory but long story short, Kojima Productions ran into some difficulties during production of Metal Gear Solid: Rising and it was eventually canceled until they met with PlatinumGames and agreed to let them work on it, and it was revamped and became Revengeance. If you’ve played other games developed by Platinum, you should know what to expect going into this. If you’ve seen the action cut scenes featuring Raiden in Metal Gear Solid 4 and wished that action was actually playable, Revengeance aims to deliver or so it seems.

There’s a lot of things I like about Rising and the story is one of them. Not that it’s the greatest story ever told but it does embrace the ridiculous. Rising goes above and beyond whatever you may have thought was ridiculous or insane about the prior games. Set after the events of Metal Gear Solid 4, the player assumes the role of returning protagonist Raiden, now a cyborg who works for the private military company Maverick Security Consulting, Inc. The story follows Raiden as he pursues rival PMC Desperado Enforcement, LLC., who are basically just evil. They reap the benefits of conflict and have their hands in some pretty vile shit including harvesting the brains of children.

The story is primarily conveyed through cut scenes and if you think some of the cut scenes in the prior games are ridiculous and/or over-the-top, and that includes the redone cut scenes in The Twin Snakes, Metal Gear Rising fully embraces that kind of style which is also reflected in the gameplay. Needless to say, I think it’s a very entertaining game with some humorous dialogue here and there and, overall, I feel it makes for a nice break from the more typical grounded (for lack of a better word) Metal Gear tales. You don’t need to play the previous games to understand what’s going on here but there are some references to previous events that you may not understand otherwise.

One negative thing I will say about this game is that it’s a bit on the short side. The main story took me a little over five hours to beat. Granted, the game does come with plenty of replay value and the PC version, or at least the Steam version, comes with all the DLC including the two additional storylines. One lets you assume the role of another cyborg, Jetstream Sam, who does play differently than Raiden and the other lets you assume the role of Blade Wolf, a robot dog. Both storylines are extremely short and feature the same enemies and even locations as the main story but there some differences. Sam’s story features tougher and more aggressive enemies and contains one of the most frustrating final bosses I’ve ever had the pleasure of battling. Motherfucker is just cheap. Blade Wolf’s story contains an original boss.

When it comes to the gameplay, I’m going to say upfront that I love this shit but it’s not my favorite Platinum game. There’s a lot of little things that I feel bring it down a bit. But let’s talk about what it does and the positives first. You run around the environments hacking and slashing enemies to pieces. You can cut them in half and literally chop them up into pieces. It’s violent, it’s gory, it’s fast-paced, and there is depth to the combat. It’s awesome. A lot of fun. You are scored and ranked at the end of each battle and chapter and earn battle points that can be spent to customize Raiden. You can buy different bodies, weapons, upgrades, and skills. Raiden’s primary weapon at the start is a blade and you will unlock secondary weapons (that need to be purchased) as you progress. You can acquire sub-weapons and items in the environments including rocket launchers, grenades, healing items, and even a Metal Gear staple, the cardboard box.

You can perform light and strong attacks and string attacks together to form combos. Your main defensive moves are parrying and countering, both of which will require proper timing. Then there’s Blade Mode. You can enter Blade Mode at the press of a button to manually slice through enemies and/or objects. If your Fuel Cell gauge is full, you’ll enter slow-mo during Blade Mode which does consume Fuel Cell electrolytes in the process and it can be replenished by attacking enemies. If you manage to strip the armor from an enemy, a critical kill box will appear while in Blade Mode that you can slice through which will then allow Raiden to reach into their bodies and pull out their organs or parts or whatever they are and crush them, replenishing his health and Fuel Cells instantly.

If you think everything I’ve described so far sounds cool, it is. But I do feel the controls take some getting used to and the way the game teaches you shit is handled very poorly. When you first jump in, you must complete a tutorial but it doesn’t teach you enough in my opinion. You will unlock new abilities and things as you progress through the story and the result is sometimes new tutorials in the game’s VR Missions mode. And these are Tutorials for major mechanics that you should actually know. Instead of teaching you as you go, or at least giving you the option, you have to exit the Story mode and enter the VR Missions mode to activate the tutorials. Then go back to the Story mode to continue.

There are some things about Rising that make it frustrating and some other things that I feel aren’t necessarily a problem but should be altered in some way. First of all the camera is problematic despite the fact you can control it manually. Even with the lock-on mechanic, the camera will often be positioned in spots that make it hard to see what’s going on and since you’re often outnumbered, it’s not uncommon to get attacked by enemies you can’t see. What makes this a really annoying problem is how parrying works. If playing with a controller, you have to tilt the stick towards the attacking enemy and tap the light attack button at just the right time. Another problem is that you can’t easily switch weapons and items during combat. “Easily” may not be the right word but the design is questionable. You have to stand still to enter the sub-weapons menu which can be a big problem in this fast-paced action game where you’re often outnumbered. Not only that, but sometimes it doesn’t seem to work so I would end up mashing the button until it opened.

Now I’ll talk about some things I feel aren’t necessarily problematic but could be improved. First, the forced codec sequences. Whenever Raiden enters a codec interaction, you’ll be forced to walk for some reason. You can skip through these but if you’re interested in the plot, you’ll want to hear them through. This actually isn’t uncommon for a Metal Gear game. In fact, the action in most of the previous games would come to a halt to convey a codec or radio interaction. But Rising is quite different than your typical Metal Gear game. As a result, the pacing can sometimes feel inconsistent. It’s like battle, codec, battle, codec, battle, codec – it’s annoying. Why are we forcing the player to a walking speed? Seems unnecessary. Then there’s the stun attacks. Certain attacks will stun your character which isn’t a problem but forcing the player to flick the stick back and forth to get out of it is. It’s just annoying.

Metal Gear Rising does actually feature some stealth. Now it’s not as involved as that of the previous games but it does work well enough. You can sneak up on enemies and perform what the game calls Ninja Kills which are just instant takedowns. Rising even comes with Metal Gear’s classic alert system and it is possible to reach certain destinations undetected. At the press of a button, you can activate AR Mode or AR Vision which simply highlights enemies and important things in the environments. Granted, I found engaging enemies to be the more enjoyable approach since the action is the real meat of the game but every so often I would sneak around.

I did play through each of the storylines on the Normal difficulty and I would say the main story offers a good enough challenge without every truly feeling unfair. The bosses made up the most challenging encounters in the game for me and the final boss can be a real bitch but nothing as cheap as the final boss in Sam’s storyline. This motherfucker will spam attacks you can’t parry and I found the whole fight to be very frustrating. My advice is to taunt so you can inflict more damage and be sure you know how to roll. The Blade Wolf storyline throws you into a platforming sequence in the beginning which I found odd because the game doesn’t feel suited to be a platformer nor does it work well as one which is only proven by this sequence. Furthermore, you’re never forced to do any kind of platforming like this at any other point in the story or even in the other storylines. Ultimately, this storyline is the shortest and weakest of the three.

The main story will take you to a good variety of environments, all of which are primarily linear with some branching paths and areas off to the sides and the DLC storylines take you to several of the same areas. Environments are often populated with enemies standing or patrolling around and some should be familiar to Metal Gear veterans. The environments do contain weapons and item boxes lying around and there are collectibles to find. These include unlockable VR Missions, data storage, and left arms. Yes, left arms. Certain enemies have a left arm with a unique ID Chip. Sever the arm and it’s yours. Unlocked VR Missions can be accessed in the VR Missions mode. These are basically challenges or objectives to test your skills, not unlike the VR Missions in some of the previous Metal Gear games. And you can try for record times.

I liked the overall presentation of Rising. The cut scenes are well directed and edited and are entertaining to watch. The presentation is somewhat colorful, the environments are detailed, the animations are good, and I was impressed with the detailed cuts and slices. They are reflected appropriately and spilling blood and chopping up enemies to pieces is very satisfying. The action is backed by a rocking soundtrack. I can’t say I was a fan of every song but I do think the music fits the action nicely. I did consult the game’s PCGamingWiki page before playing and learned the cut scenes are capped at thirty frames per second and apparently the frame limiter is unstable. I thought some cut scenes appeared choppy but the gameplay seemed to run fine in my experience. The only time I really noticed the frame rate dip was during Sam’s storyline for some reason.

I love Metal Gear Rising and did enjoy it, overall, but I feel it could have been better. It’s got some noticeable issues and questionable design choices that I think hold it back a little. I was able to tolerate the quick time events and poor tutorial implementation but the camera can really make things frustrating which becomes more of a problem as the game goes on because things just get more challenging. With how fast-paced and hectic the action can be and because of how the game controls and how certain mechanics work, the player shouldn’t also have to fight the camera. Not being able to easily switch weapons and items is a problem and forcing the player to stand still to enter the sub-weapons menu is an odd design choice and annoying. Rising is the kind of game you get better at the more you play and despite the rather short story, the game gives you plenty of reasons to return. Multiple difficulty levels, the scoring system, the unlockable content – plenty of incentives to keep the player coming back. It really is a great action game but a lot of the little things, little annoyances simply add up after a while and some of the issues can actually make things more frustrating than they need to be.

As for the DLC storylines, I would say they’re mostly forgettable. They’re extremely short and don’t introduce enough new stuff to make them really stand out. I’m probably only going to remember Sam’s story simply because of the frustrating final boss. Outside of the novelty of playing as Blade Wolf, there’s nothing really exceptional about its story, either. Sam’s story is easily the better of the two and it offers a more challenging experience so that’s at least something.

I would recommend Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance because, overall, it’s fun. It’s a fun game. The action is fast-paced, hectic, and intense. It’s violent and gory and looks cool. There is depth to the combat and if you take the time to learn the mechanics, you’ll be in for a very fun and satisfying experience. The game is far from perfect and can be frustrating at times but I would say there’s more good here than bad. I think it could have been better but what’s on offer does make for a good time. Definitely check it out.

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