Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance is the long awaited, absurd spin off of the Metal Gear Solid series, featuring Raiden at the helm once again. In development hell for years and eventually given over to character action game masters, Platinum Games, Rising saw release finally, to relative critical praise. Now after the fact, it is being released with all accompanying DLC at a lower price point on PC, with a higher framerate and resolution.
Rising takes place some years after Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns Of The Patriots, Raiden at this point is still the cyborg samurai and it seems the purpose of Revengeance is to let players live those few famous fight scenes from MGS4 as Raiden. The game follows him as he works for a private military corporation whom had just recently stabilized a dangerous area in Africa, only to have a rival PMC by the name of Desperado come in and assassinate the African President and handily defeat Raiden. This is where Revengeance comes in,with his new body and abilities, he heads around the world to kill the members of Desperado one by one and stop them from harvesting children’s brains with which to train and implant into future cyborg bodies. The story is filled with all the absurd melodrama and political babble that has been present in so much of Metal Gear since its inception but it also has some incredibly funny moments and Rising is one of the first games in a long time that is totally self aware. Adeptly juggling absurd political nonsense and moments of silly humor, the game is crazy in every aspect but it has its tongue so firmly planted in its cheek that players won’t bat an eye.
Rising is best described as a combo of Ninja Gaiden and the long forgotten Afro Samurai video game. It contains the absurdly fast swordplay, huge bosses and tough encounters as Gaiden did and the slice your enemies any way you want from Afro Samurai. The big thing from Rising is blade mode, where time slows down and you are able to use the right stick to swing and aim your sword to manually cut enemies into as many pieces your heart desires. Want to cut off just the top of a head? Or maybe just the left hand to gain one of the games collectibles? You can do all this in blade mode, in fact with Raiden’s new body, blade mode is smartly integrated to game-play. He requires power cells to recharge his health and energy, basically to keep him functioning he has to literally cut enemies in half, rip their energy rich robotic spines out, crush them in his hand and absorb their goodness. It is even more visceral and amazing than it sounds on paper and learning to perfectly time blade mode after a series of dazzling combos is beyond satisfying.
Combat is cathartic, blood sprays with each slice and the combos are swift and simple, pulling out all the stops, jumping in the air and slicing through three cyborgs only to rip their nutrient rich spines out for sustenance is incredible. Helicopters, tanks, Gekko’s, men, robot dogs, pillars, watermelons, basically anything in the environment can be cut any way and into as many pieces as you want. Sadly combos are fairly limited, most of the game comes down to mashing X and Y and what starts as a steep learning curve quickly goes away after finally grasping the games strange parry/block system. Blocking in Rising is done by flicking the stick toward the enemy attacking you while pressing X. Timed perfectly and you can execute devastating counters which lead to a blade mode finisher, in essence there is no dedicated block button which can be off-putting to but once you get the hang of it there are no problems.
There are secondary weapons gained from one of the games 5 or so brilliant boss battles but they are distractions at best. Having to be selected in a menu and not being able to be changed mid combo like DMC: Devil May Cry make their usefulness limited; The pole-arm being the only weapon that has a set of moves similar to your high-frequency blade. Otherwise the secondary weapons serve very specific purposes like long range grappling or very heavy attacks. In fact, besides the pole-arm, I used the other secondary weapons once, only to test them and subsequently never use them again. That said the base katana combat is satisfying enough that you never care to even use the secondary weapons. Combos are still limited in comparison to other action games and there definitely isn’t that depth that I would of like to have seen from a game like Rising.
Rising’s most glaring issue is its length, the game took me less than 4 1/2 hours on the final game clock and getting stuck on the final, albeit great, boss battle due to my own error, made up for literally 45 minutes of that time. In all honesty, with upgrades on new game plus, I was burning through the sections in half the time. Rising could easily be completed in under two hours but for a game like this it didn’t detract from my experience in any way. There are plenty of titles, unlocks, costumes and the like available that burning through the game in a couple of hours every once in a while is quite a tantalizing concept. It may be short but it is incredibly sweet.
Visually the PC version is a big jump compared to the slowdown I experienced on the console versions the few times I got my hands on it, supporting higher resolutions, 60 frames per second and much more physics objects on screen. Altogether this makes for a much smoother experience, perfect for Rising’s fast twitch combat. The character models are detailed and well animated but the environments are as drab and linear as humanly possible, I felt cutting them apart necessary for my own well-being. Voice acting is entertaining and Raiden is over the top, channeling Clint Eastwood with a sword in some moments. The rest of the cast is entertaining and the writing is generally as silly as it is over-wrought but this is to its benefit. The music is a highlight, combing high speed techno, speed rock, metal and nu-metal timed perfectly to the action on-screen. In fact, there is so much orchestral scoring, and middling quality soundtracks in games today that the absurd high speed rock and metal was a breath of fresh air. Hitting the climactic moment in a boss battle, only to hear the music peak is exhilarating.
Rising on PC is a step up in every way from its console brethren and not only does it release at half the price, it also contains all the dlc that has been previously released, adding a few hours to the short game time. All this content, coupled with a hilarious story, over the top action and blistering speed make for a great experience that shouldn’t be missed by action fans. There are missteps with the combat, especially the secondary weapons and the lack of true combos but the pure madness on display makes up for it. Character action games are a dying breed, especially on PC, so you owe it to yourself to get your Revengeance.
+Story is as smart as it is dumb
+General combat flow
+ripping spines out
+cheap price for content
-lack of combos and depth