Well, that was different.
I have known for years/decades that Jack’s backstory in the Metal Gear series was always somewhat tragic. I’ve also always wanted to know how and why he got that badass robot job and damaged face (because I wanted to know). Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance answers all of these questions, and a bit more, where Jack/Raiden is the complete focus on a different story in the MGS universe. Set in a tug-of-war environment where Jack and his group of soldiers is trying to set a peaceful precedent in an unpeaceful African landscape, another group of soldiers is out to destroy what Jack’s group has done. After killing the president of a newly formed African government, and wounding Jack/Raiden badly, the warmongering group is hunted down by Jack/Raiden for some major revenge. Pretty typical of a revenge story, right? Yes it is, but this isn’t the typical Metal Gear game that you’re used to seeing.
Instead of stealthy missions that seem to be a part of a huge overall story, Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance introduces us to a hack/slash/button-mashing gameplay method in the Metal Gear world, something that you would find in a Tecmo Koei title beginning with Dynasty. Laugh if you want, but that comparison isn’t too far off from the truth. You go against a bunch of enemies, slicing/dicing/shooting your way to the next checkpoint. In the Dynasty Warriors series, you do the same, though on a greater scale (and the DW games become bit lost at times because the story gets detached from the insane amount of action). So, is this comparison a bad thing? Not at all, but if you go into Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance looking for a typical MGS game that you’re used to seeing then you’re going to be disappointed a bit.
Having said that, the game suits the character perfectly. In all the MGS games featuring Raiden/Jack in it, he absolutely goes apeshit on people. He’s literally the opposite of Solid Snake, who is built more for stealth and the element of surprise. Raiden has always been that eloquent sword wielding ninja that pretty much kills people before they can stop and think to hide. He’s an ‘out-in-the-open’ sort of character, which makes him perfect for a hack/slash/button-mashing fest that MGRR delivers. In other words, his role in this game makes perfect sense. Konami and Kojima Productions firmly put Raiden/Jack in this world of MGRR with good reason, not just to make a quick buck with the Metal Gear name. I absolutely appreciate that and it goes to show you why Kojima Productions is almost always at the top of their game with their games.
So what should you expect with the controls? First, you need a gamepad of some sort. I used my PS3 Dualshock 3 with the game (click here if you don’t want to use Motionjoy drivers, which I’ve never gotten to work) and found the game completely manageable. Metal Gear Rising simply doesn’t work with a mouse and keyboard (like you needed me to tell you that). It wasn’t made for it and it doesn’t do well with it. So, go find a gamepad and move on.
Once you get comfortable with the gamepad, MGRR pretty much gives you flexibility to go hog wild on your enemies. Press X and you have your sword swipe. Press O and you have your sword kick. Press the directional pad and you switch weapons easily. It’s pretty remedial as it gets with an action game, and as it should be. When you hit your enemy enough their limbs will become damaged and highlight in a light blue/green. At this point, if you hold down the L1 button and hit the square button then you have the opportunity to hack off that damaged limb. If you damage the enemies enough then you have an opportunity to hack them into individual, tiny pieces. It’s quite a refreshing feeling to unload rage on an enemy and just enjoy the berserk onscreen chaos that Raiden is dispensing. There are times where you will get quicktime events flashing on the screen telling you to press two buttons (or one) to perform a special move. It’s usually pretty cool stuff that ends with you pressing L1 and going nuts on an enemy. On top of all these things is the fact that the game also allows for flexibility with the controls and forgivable mistakes. It also fits well into the scheme of fast-paced gameplay, which is what Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance is truly about.
Keeping the positive train rolling here, the visuals are stunning on the PC, as you might have expected. Born and raised on a PC before it made it to consoles, MGRR’s details, particle effects, facial expressions, shadows and huge environments are something to behold on this platform. Metal Gear Rising really stretches its presentation value out on the PC and doesn’t fail to impress. While there are certainly some things that could be improved in future versions of the game (some of the character modeling is very ‘console stiff’ — especially in the hands and mouth), it’s certainly on par with the upper echelon of the PC gaming world in this category. It’s no Skyrim or Crysis, but it’s definitely solid for what you get.
Now, let’s discuss some caveats to this game.
The first, and probably most disappointing, is the linear path you’re put on. While you can certainly do some minor exploring in MGRR’s world and find some things here and there, it’s not as sandbox as previous Metal Gear games. I fully understand that it might go against what Kojima Productions and PlatinumGames was trying to do with MGRR, but it would have been nice to have a bit more freedom when running around the stages. If you want to explore a part of the cityscape you might be in, you will run into a wall that prevents you from moving forward. Even worse, if you’re in an environment that you know the limitations to and you want to escape maybe a boss or an ‘end-of-checkpoint’ enemy, you more than likely will be prevented from leaving the area to get some distance. If you’ve played Witcher 2 and ever played against a boss in that game then you understand the limitations I’m talking about. Like I stated previously, I fully understand the linear path that was established, but it doesn’t mean I enjoy it. I very much hate getting trapped in a specific area because a boss has been activated — that sort of stuff never makes sense to me.
The other big issue with this game, at least for me, was the difficulty. I understand the difficulty of the MGS series has always been a cut above the rest. Kojima’s group always wants you to think before you act in their games and their games train you to do so via the difficulty. For Metal Gear Rising the ‘normal’ difficulty is pretty up there. The first official boss (not counting the Metal Gears on the first stage) you run into in the game, Blade Wolf (IF Prototype LQ-84i), is frustrating as hell when playing the game on normal difficulty. You will be required to learn precision timing with your blocks, which is tough to do at the pace the game is moving. Moving up to a greater difficulty is just insane. Most people might feel the need to pull it back to ‘easy’, and that’s not a bad thing, but the majority of the goods reside in ‘normal’. There’s potential in the game for frustrating moments where you must remember that your controller did nothing to you. Pace yourself, learn the enemies’ moves and you will be fine, but go into it understanding that it’s tough — especially for novice gamers.
At the end of the day, is the game fun and worth your money? I have to say yes for this. The fact that you can download and purchase the game for $29.99 through Steam is quite amazing. I know it’s nearly a year old game, but you’re getting it on a better platform that has quicker load times and looks prettier. Having never played the console version (I’ve seen it, just never played it), it’s leaps and bounds above it in terms of functionality and presentation. Also the game grades you at the end of each checkpoint and allows for you to gain money based on your performance, which leads to upgrades of equipment, skills and other little things to make Raiden better. That helps to extend the life of the title, as well as the VR missions included with it. There’s fun to be had at least twice through the story and on side missions with this title. In other words, it’s worth your time and money.