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Review: Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance is Action Gaming at its Finest

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A few days ago I wrapped my initial play through of Kojima and Platinum Games’ Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance (MGRR), and while it was my first experience in the Metal Gear Universe, I still had a blast slashing my way through it.  Rising is the ultimate portrayal of a Japanese action game.  Its over-the-top gameplay and violence resemble something that a demented samurai would dream up, and the plot is even more far fetched (child brain harvesting anyone?).

Regardless, it’s still a blast to play, and MGRR made me feel like I was mashing my controller’s buttons through a classic action title on the NES, albeit with a next-gen coat of paint and flare.  Please continue on to read my full review of Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance to find out if you should spend your hard earned cash on it or not.

Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance

EB 8.9 out of 10 Buddhas

(The Xbox 360 version was used for this review)

The Awesome

  • Nostalgic Japanese action game feel
  • Swordplay at its best
  • Frequent moments of awe inspiring gameplay and visuals
  • Strong lead character in Raiden
  • Story is literally bat shit crazy
  • Did I mention swords already?

The Not so Awesome

  • There’s an NPC who talks like Jar Jar Binks
  • Later earned abilities are never fully explained
  • Final boss fight will test your mental fortitude like none other

Story

Like I mentioned earlier I have never played a modern Metal Gear game, so many of the conversations in MGRR went right over my head, but in the end it didn’t really matter.  MGRR’s story can be treated as a stand alone entry in the franchise and still pay off when the credits roll, because the action based gameplay is that much fun to execute.  For me it allowed myself to ignore some of the plot, which could possibly be the most far out video game story I’ve ever witnessed.

In a nutshell this game is based on Raiden’s vengeance on some cyborg warriors who sliced him up during the game’s first mission.  Basically, these cyborg warriors represent a faction in the world who want to keep the war machine going to recoup the financial rewards that accompany it, and Raiden wants to atone for his past life as “Jack the Ripper” by helping to prevent such a thing from happening.

I kill you in the name of poor children’s brains!

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Along the way Raiden uncovers some insane military/government plot that only the Japanese could come up with, and it’ll make you wonder what type of drugs the team were on when they wrote this game’s script.  Without spoiling it for you Raiden’s main motivation for revenge shifts from his own personal reasons to that of a cause he believes in, which is to stop the harvesting of brains from poor children.

Yes, the bad guys in this game are stealing poor kids and taking their brains for use in cyborg warriors.  You even get to see these brains in their new cybernetic enclosures complete with blinking eyes, which only helps to solidify this game’s plot as one of the most unusual I’ve ever played!

The only thing that bothered me about this game’s plot is the introduction of a NPC character who literally talks as if he were a Gungan.  You know, Jar Jar Binks’ people.  His accent was so peculiar that I had to film him in action for the rest of the world to see.  Feel free to check out this bozo down below.

There’s a Jar Jar Binks Impersonator in Metal Gear Rising

In the end though MGRR’s story didn’t hamper, or really enhance the game, but that’s because it shined where things matter most in a top-notch video game, and that’s the gameplay.

Gameplay

For all intents and purposes MGRR plays similarly to other Japanese action games.  In fact, if you’ve played Platinum Games’ Vanquish, then you already will have a great idea of how Rising plays.  Raiden’s movements are solely controlled through the left thumb stick, which I’ll be honest, does take some getting used to if you’re more familiar with using the right-stick to control the camera in an action game.  You can still use the right-stick to orient the camera, but it feels like you’re constantly fighting with the left-stick when doing so.  If you’re not used to this layout you should expect to feel a little awkward during the first few hours of play.

In addition to Raiden’s physical movements you are tasked with mashing the X, Y, B, and A buttons in a similar fashion to other action games to pull off some jaw dropping combos with this game’s true stars – Raiden’s blade and cyborg enhanced body.  Platinum included some other weapons to use throughout MGRR, but I found them to be far inferior to the default sword weapon.

This cyborg hacking device is what makes Rising such a blast to play even though most of the levels feature repetitive gameplay cycles of: Kill enemies, kill more enemies, fight the level’s boss, rinse and repeat.  The monotony didn’t bother me one bit though, because I found my happy place in Blade Mode, which is Raiden’s ability to slow down time while he systematically hacks his enemies to tiny cyborg infested flesh giblets, all while trying to rip their spines out for energy gains.  There’s nothing more gratifying than using your right thumb-stick to precisely chop away at an enemy AI’s body parts as if you were an artist whose medium is flesh.

Hands down the best feature in Metal Gear Rising

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I haven’t experienced something this thrilling in a video game in 2013, and Blade Mode is definitely what kept me coming back even when I’d get frustrated by the game’s fairly advanced boss fights (when compared to standard enemy AI), which require a bit of a learning curve to master.  Don’t even ask me about the game’s final boss, who nearly made me stroke out over his cheap move set, because I didn’t know how to properly counter him.

The reason for this is the fact that Rising does a very poor job at introducing new gameplay mechanics to you.  My experience with the final boss may have been easier on my nerves if I knew about Raiden’s dodge move earlier on in the game, so I could master it.  Unfortunately, it was never taught to me until a buddy of mine let me in on the secret, which he in turn had to research himself.

Another example of this lack of gameplay knowledge rears it head about midway through the game.  Raiden unlocks his “Ripper” mode before one of the boss fights, but its purpose is never explained.  I had no clue that when enabled it turned Raiden into an even deadlier warrior.  I could of used his enhanced “Ripper” mode powers on more than one occasion, but once again I had to find out how to use it through a friend, which is frustrating, and quite frankly should never happen in a video game.

Each and every move in a game should be explained in some form or fashion either through a tutorial, or a quick pause in gameplay to state the use of a newly learned ability.  In the case of the whole “Ripper” mode ordeal I just thought my power gauge changed colors on me.  I had no clue that it actually meant that I was ready to inflict a world of hurt on any cyborg or inanimate object that got in the way of Raiden’s blade.

Graphics

Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance features a graphical quality that one would expect to see in the twilight of this console generation.  The frame rate never skipped a beat, which is amazing considering how intense and fast paced some of the battles can get.  The game world’s textures all look crisp, and each character model is intricately detailed in their nanosuit inspired looking cyborg gear.

The level of graphical fidelity really comes into play whilst in Blade Mode where you can see individual body parts, flesh pieces, and internal cyborg parts getting torn to shreds in glorious slow motion.  Imagine the bullet-time effect from The Matrix, but instead of dodging gun fire you’re watching a cyborg ninja dice his foes with the precision of a heart surgeon.  You guessed right.  It looks like awesome reincarnate.

If you can actually stop slicing people you’ll notice this game’s beautiful backgrounds

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I did notice a few grainy looking shots during MGRR’s many, and sometime extremely long cut scenes, but it was nothing to write home about.  Overall this game looks fantastic, but like I mentioned earlier the graphics take a back seat to the action based gameplay, so even if they weren’t top-notch I’d still think this game was a blast to play.

Sound

Rising features one of the most odd video game soundtracks I’ve ever heard, but it never grated on me outside of the final boss fight (mainly because I had to restart the fight about 60 times).  During boss fights the soundtrack turns into what I can only describe as a Nickelback concert on speed with techno and hard rock themes mixed into it.  To be honest with you it fit perfectly with this game’s other outlandish themes (poor kid brain plot), so I accepted it for what it is.

Just don’t expect to fire up this game and hear a brilliantly composed soundtrack in the vein of Mass Effect 3 or Halo 4.  The music and sounds don’t hurt MGRR, but they’re not going to win any Grammies either.

Final Thoughts

For never having played a modern Metal Gear game I was extremely pleased with my time spent playing Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance.  It’s definitely a spin-off franchise that I’d love to revisit in a sequel.  The pure joy of pulling off a Zandatsu (ripping cyborg guts out and using them for energy) during Blade Mode is something I could experience time and time again.  MGRR took me back to the NES era when Japanese game developers ruled the industry, and it reminded me of how much fun and challenging their brand of action gaming can be.

The peculiar story will make you wonder what people dream about over in Japan, and it will also wake you up to how other cultures view Americans (violent war mongers according to MGRR).  Luckily it doesn’t take away from this game’s bread and butter, which is the swordplay.  Outside of the last boss being beyond frustrating I enjoyed every single moment in this game, and highly recommend it as a must play title in 2013.  For all its upside I have to give Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance an EB 8.9 out of 10 Buddhas!  You’ve been needing to see what this Blade Mode is all about…

 

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Tags : Game ReviewMGRRSwords
Matt Heywood

The author Matt Heywood

Matt Heywood is the founder and EIC of EntertainmentBuddha.com where he strives to make you a better geek, one post at a time! When he’s not scouring the Internet for interesting nuggets of awesomeness he can be found in his secret lair enjoying the latest and greatest video games, taking pictures of toys, or talking Star Wars on EB’s Star Wars Time podcast show.