Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance Hands On

Developer: Platinum Games / Publisher: Konami / Release Date: 2/19/2013 /ESRB: Mature [Blood and Gore, Intense Violence, Strong Language]

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If you know anything about Atsushi Inaba and Platinum Games, you might have an idea of the demanding kind of gameplay that’s in store for you in Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance. We’re talking about ridiculously fast and fluid melee combat and little margin for error. Controlling Raiden in Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty will not prepare you for this, and Revengeance is definitely not Metal Gear in the ‘Solid’ sense.

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After playing through an extensive (and actually beatable) preview build of Revengeance, I’m pleased to confirm that you should prepare to train today. That’s because much of the public demo, which incidentally is part of the first chapter (not to be confused with the extended prologue), does more than enough to show you all the combat fundamentals that you need to beat the game. That doesn’t mean you’ll be able to tear through the full game on Normal mode and slice through every foe without a scratch after playing the demo. Expect to get only a handful of ‘S’ and ‘A’ ranks on your first go.

Whatever you do, learn the gameplay first through the tutorial, even if you need to play it multiple times to get the slicing mechanic down to muscle memory. Two moves you need to learn as soon as possible is the dash and the block, both of which will mean the difference between getting a ‘Game Over’ in 10 seconds or beating a boss fight with enough style that you wish you recorded it for YouTube.

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Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance follows the classic chapter cycle where common enemies are a piece of cake while the bosses are the real challenges. The dynamic enemy animation and the frenetic camera work might seem like Revengeance’s boss fights are taken to another level. Yet, as long as you experiment with different moves and stay patient, you can figure out each boss’ weakness, just like any other Metal Gear game; the fights are just a lot faster.

What the demo does not feature is the upgrade system, the currency of which is earned through performance-based kills during a mission. There are practical upgrades for current and new weapons as well as cosmetic items like new costumes. There are also general skill upgrades like a sidestep, an upward thrust, and a foot sweep. To that effect, the game has more in common with the rebooted Ninja Gaiden series than I had anticipated.

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I will admit that I found Raiden’s occupation as some kind of defense contractor bodyguard/hired killer the least interesting aspect of Revengeance. While themes of the war economy are important topics worth discussing, it was hardly an effective narrative device in Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots. That said, I am glad such angles take a backseat in Revengeance. There’s no Drebin Shop to think about, only a focus on slicing up anything and everything to get to a chapter boss and put up with their obligatory long-winded monologues before and after battle.

Such speeches are what franchise fans expect, and the close collaboration with Kojima Productions has helped Platinum Games strike that balance between sprinkling in Metal Gear-style fan service and giving this new game its own identity, with the potential of creating a spin-off series. Fans will recognize the echoed lines like “Kept you waiting, huh?” and a new take on the classic ‘insertion method’ cutscene.

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Think of style as the reward of playing well in Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance. A screen prompt in elaborate kanji will let you know when to execute the final kill of a hundred adrenalized sword strokes. It’s a game where Raiden doesn’t dodge missiles; he jumps on them and uses the missiles as a bridge to get up close and personal with a gunship.

I used to say that the previous console generation’s cutscenes are today’s playable gameplay sequences. The way Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance is shaping up, Kojima Productions and Platinum Games might actually close that gap, where you might play as Raiden with the same sensational flare and dynamism that you only got to watch in Metal Gear Solid 4.

  1. Damn. If it’s on par with Bayonetta (or better!) I’d gladly pick this game up some time. My question, however… Does the sword function like a sword? Or does it just often cut or bash against the enemies?

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