I’m three and a half hours into the upcoming Metal Gear spin-off, Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance and two things have become glaringly apparent. The story ain’t gonna blow away any minds, but the ludicrous combat certainly will.
There’s been a lot of debate surrounding Revengeance’s story, particularly focussed on whether it will unravel Metal Gear Solid 4’s stellar ending. However remember this is a spin-off, not a direct sequel, so it doesn’t need to live up to the story standards of the series. Instead, it takes an approach far more fitting to the carnage you’ll be tearing up on the screen. Expect a mindless action-packed narrative with overly dramatic bad guys voiced by some below-par voice acting and you won’t be disappointed.
With that out of the way let’s talk about the real reason you’re excited for Revengeance: gloriously satisfying blade-wielding chaos. A lot of inspiration for MGRR’s gameplay has been drawn from that epic MGS4 cutscene involving Raiden, Vamp and a bunch of Gekkos (biomechanical fighting vehicles that moo like a cow). Its combat mechanics can be broadly split up into four categories; standard attack moves, blade mode (allowing you to pinpoint slice parts of your opponents body), parrying and the ninja run (used to avoid enemy attacks). You’re also able to switch to an AR display that highlights destructible objects. Sure it’s enjoyable chopping up parts of the environment, but for the most part, its inclusion is purely superficial as hacking away at your surroundings rarely impacts how you play the game.
Encounters with your enemies on the other hand, are anything but a shallow experience. These fights run deep, baby. One such instance saw me surrounded by soldiers and a Gekko. Sprinting towards my enemies before sliding underneath their groins, I activated blade mode, entering a bullet-time like state as I sliced and diced their body parts. What followed was a shower of dismembered limbs and mechanical legs. When Raiden turned around to glower over his artistic carving skills the sight was beyond comical. Though I had dismembered my foes, they were still alive… barely. Legless soldiers weakly crawled towards me and the gekko limped around the battlefield, spinning like a helicopters rotor blade as it fired off a barrage of bullets. A later instance saw me slicing my enemy’s head off before the rest of her was frozen solid by liquid nitrogen, leaving her body from the breasts down standing completely upright. It’s customisable interactions like this that define Rising’s unique battle system and leave a very personal touch.
Customisation goes beyond the battleground however as MGRR has adopted some minor RPG elements. Without going into too much detail (because I can’t) Raiden can customise his body beyond extending his life metre. And his blade isn’t the only death bringer he’ll be wielding, so expect to use some truly badass weaponry in the fight against terrorism.
Additions such as these will please people who felt the variety of combat offered in the demo packed with Zone of the Enders was limited. In fact, they bring Revengeance in direct competition with 2013’s other hack n slash release, DmC. With similarities spanning stylish combat, a skill ranking system measuring your awesomeness in battle and the ability to alter Raiden’s body and combat abilities, the two titles have more in common than you’d think. If the DmC demo left a bad taste in your mouth because of its apparent drop in difficulty, I urge you to give Revengeance a go. I’m tipping DmC for its story and production value but Rising to trounce it in combat.
Unfortunately, the enjoyment of Rising’s katana carnage is not enough to hide some glaring weaknesses beyond its story. First up are the bland environments. The locations on offer felt bare, aside from some scattered crates holding consumables, there really wasn’t much reason to explore the world. It’s a minor flaw that seems to plague other games in the genre (the Devil May Cry series, no doubt) but nevertheless, it leaves its world feeling lifeless after each battle. The other issue I encountered was during the K9000 fight with the robo doggy. At times he would dart swiftly around the arena behind Raiden, leaving me to battle with the camera as I tried to get a lock on him. The camera however, kept trying to reset itself and during these moments I suffered the most damage. The issue has only appeared here (though it happened frequently) so fingers crossed it’s a one off thing.
Ultimately Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance is looking like a lot of mindless fun with some rock-solid combat foundations. If you’ve ever wanted to play out that incredible scene between Raiden and Vamp and lets face it, who hasn’t, then this is finally your chance.
Are you excited for the Metal Gear spinoff or would you prefer to take up arms in DmC?