Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance manages to make Raiden a character you care about. Find out why in our review.
Published on Feb 18, 2013
Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance is silly. You want that from a Platinum Games game. You expect it from a Metal Gear game. But is being silly the best decision here? As our Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance review will tell you, yes. Yes, it is.
These are the guys that made Bayonetta after all, and from the instant you pull off your first combo you can see that. There’s a level of depth, of fun and of insanity that few developers can mimic.
It’s all laid bare in the first mission, too. It’s a tutorial stage that ends with an epic battle against a Metal Gear capable of spitting a beam of plasma at you. Within 10 minutes you already know what to expect from Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance.
But within those 10 minutes you likely won’t have much grasp of the combat system. While a lot of the system is very reminiscent of Bayonetta with a huge list of possible combinations of light and heavy attacks, there’s one major difference.
Rather than opting for an evade button, Platinum Games has switched to a parry system – yes, obviously that makes sense in a game all about swords.
Initially it’s a little tough to get to grips with, regardless of whether you’re a genre expert or newcomer. It’s so incongruent with current genre staples that it takes a bit of relearning before you can properly understand it.
You're either a cold assassin or a messy killer: hack or slice, there is no in between.
But when you do, that’s where it really starts to shine. A well-timed parry will lead to a zandatsu attack; basically a fancy strike that lets you hack your enemy to bits.
And when you hack, boy do you hack. Turning enemies – don’t worry, they’re cyborgs so it’s totally cool – into tiny little bits is a thrill only Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance has provided on this scale before.
Eventually you’ll cut back on the slashes, however, for two reasons. The primary one is the need to refill electrolytes: slice through an enemy’s centre and you’ll be able to rip out the juicy core, refilling your health and powering up Raiden’s sword.
Then there are enemies with special information stored in their left hand – that’s where all important info is stored in a cyborg’s body, don’t you know? – and you’ll need to be careful if you want to collect it.
In both cases hacking a body to bits destroys whatever contents you’re after, and more thoughtful, considered strikes will collect you more points (to spend on upgrades) than simply enjoying the brutality of turning big things into small things.
This zandatsu feature is kind of the like punctuation of a battle; the commas, the semi-colons and the full stops. They tie each combo together, enhance the combat in myriad ways and if you want to earn a higher combat rank you’ll really need to understand how to use them. Zandatsu, that is, not full stops.
There's a section where you get to control one of these. It's brief, but fun.
So parrying is pretty important. Even if you don’t time it perfectly, it’s the only way you can evade damage. Pushing towards the enemy and tapping Square initiates a parry when an attack is incoming, but this is where the system falls down.
Once you’ve figured out the intricacies of an enemy’s attack pattern, your confidence in dealing with them will, naturally, improve. But the parry system prevents all that.
As soon as an attack begins, however signalled it may be, if you use a light attack Raiden will be forced into a block. Aside from legging it, there’s no way of breaking this stance, leaving you to wait until the incoming attack lands.
Though it prevents you from taking damage, this can be frustrating for two reasons. Firstly, it halts your combo in its tracks. If you know you can get a couple more jabs in before the attack actually happens then you should be able to, not forced into watching helplessly.
Secondly, it means you can’t complete a proper parry, enabling the zandatsu technique that is so important for combat success. Once a parry is initiated, that’s it – there’s no alternative.
The obvious answer, then, is to not push towards your enemy. If you leave the left stick alone then the parry won’t be initiated until you do, but that’s not so simple.
It's features like this that really make Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance a blast to play. Leaping from rocket to rocket? Brilliant.
This is a genre built on the need to direct your attacks, and by opting for this method of parrying it makes Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance just a little bit awkward.
Gamers have been bred to make sure they’re always pushing towards the enemy, and Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance casts that aside in favour of something that isn’t worse but isn’t actually better either – even if it is a lot of fun to use.
Even the Ninja Run action isn’t a suitable replacement for an evade button and will be a necessary distraction when enemies starting appear with rifles and rocket launchers with more frequency.
This isn’t helped much by an often-awkward camera, which seems to take pleasure at making it impossible to see the whole scope of each battle.
So we’ve gone on for some time about the combat system – but it is the lynchpin of the whole game and it’s highly likely that it will be as divisive as Raiden’s sword is to his opponents.
It’s a shame because everything in between is utterly superb. The pacing of the whole game is very well considered, with an endless torrent of one over-the-top battle after another.
Raiden is much less serious this time around too, making for a character you can actually appreciate. There’s a cut-scene in Mexico that’ll be impossible to not find entertaining.
He might not look it here, but Raiden isn't quite as serious as he used to be. He walks around in high heels, after all.
The boss battles are all brilliantly designed too, involving or culminating in some elaborate – and highly unlikely – sequence of actions only plausible in the Metal Gear universe.
And they only get better, too, with an insanely over-the-top final boss battle that will make or break a lot of players.
As for the Metal Gear elements, it slots into the world almost perfectly. Platinum Games has seemingly understood the political undercurrents that Kojima has tried to fuel throughout the MGS series and implemented it just as well.
Though we use the term ‘well’ loosely here. The Metal Gear universe is more than a little bit mental, after all.
The inclusion of ‘stealth’ sections is surprisingly well managed too. The AI is ridiculous at times – spotting you for some inexplicit reason – but it’s a decent distraction all the same.
You’ll need to study guard routes, evade cameras and – where necessary – eliminate enemies to clear the way. It’s often as fun trying to figure out the best route as it is charging at enemies head-on.
They’re also entirely optional: if you prefer you can just wade in sans cardboard box and duke it out with increasingly tougher opponents, which means no one should ever feel bogged down by dancing to Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance’s tune.
There's a variety of VR missions to take on too, which will add quite a bit of extra playtime to the admittedly short campaign.
There’s no denying that Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance is a brilliant. It’s the perfect level of crazy that anything with the Metal Gear name needs to be, but this is not Platinum Games finest outing.
The only element holding it back is this parry system, which is obtuse for genre veterans and tough to handle for newcomers. Bayonetta still remains the pinnacle of the genre this generation.
So while DMC was much easier – something fans will no doubt lament – it at least masterfully achieved what it set out to do, which was to make the series more accessible to everyone.
Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance provides just as much spectacle and gives Metal Gear fans a reason to get interested in Raiden – as hard as that is to believe – but the parry system is not perfect, and certainly not a worthy substitution for the Dodge Offset of Bayonetta.
Version Tested: PS3
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Bayonetta fans will love it, Metal Gear fans can appreciate it, but at the expense of innovation Platinum Games has inadvertently created a mechanic that won’t appeal to everyone.