I love the Metal Gear franchise in all its iterations.
I can't play them worth a damn, however.
Metal Gear has one of the most entertaining storylines ever created for a video game. In a game world which starts in the 1960s and moves up to the near-future across numerous continents, the plot of the franchise is labyrinthine and bat**** insane (but in a good way).
It's beautiful, thought-provoking, and proof video games can be a form of art. They're also damn difficult for people who don't like Stealth gameplay. Which, unfortunately, includes me. So, automatically, I'm going to give Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance a lot of credit for branching out. Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance is an action game. You slice up lots of enemies and I do mean lots.
The game really does an excellent job of making you feel like you're an invincible cyborg assassin--which is a pretty hard feeling to instill. It's not a perfect game, though, its flaws hampering a great premise and fun gameplay. The usual bat**** insane conspiracy theories which are a mainstay of the series have been noticeably mainstreamed (I hesitate to use the word "dumbed down") while the plot is absent the usual twists. Worse, there are parts which flat-out do not make sense with what we know of the setting.
Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance is also rather short, clocking in at about six hours to complete. It has a New Game Plus mode, which allows you to restart the game with all of your upgrades after beating it but this is a poor substitute for what should have been a few more levels. Finally, the game has more than a few plot-holes, a quality which was surprisingly absent from the convoluted series until now.
|Yes, a cyborg ninja is fighting a robot wolf. It's that sort of game.|
Hence the title.
The plot later becomes focused on the use of child soldiers, cybernetics, mercenaries in conflicts, and American exceptionalism. Unfortunately, the game is too short to delve into these topics too much. There's even a serious plot hole where the villain explains his plan in detail at the end, only to never explain how the previous actions he'd taken benefit it in any way. Indeed, several actions done by the villains make no sense except to get the main character involved.
|Is it wrong to chop up hordes of faceless mooks with your super sword? Does anyone care once the bullet time begins?|
There's an option to stealth through the game but it is actively discouraged by sections of the game getting "blocked off" until you have killed all of the various enemies who have spotted you. Really, you're much likely to have more fun by killing all of your foes with your high-tech sword. At least a couple of commentators have mentioned this game is a spiritual successor to the old arcade game Strider (where you play a cyborg ninja with his robot dog) and I can see their point.
In a nod towards the franchise's well-known pacifism, the game eventually takes a rather dark turn which highlights that Raiden's rather cavalier attitude towards killing. I won't spoil this section but it's exceptionally powerful and the only moment I really felt like this game was a worthy successor to its predecessors. That doesn't mean it's not fun, however, just a tad underwhelming.
|The game's tagline is lightning bolt action. It delivers, which is a good thing. Unfortunately, it gets a bit repetitive in places.|
Raiden's supporting cast is entertaining in this volume, consisting of the mercenary company which employs him and a couple of surprising additions. I suspect some people are going to have severe problems with George, the Guyana war orphan, since his accent is bound to remind some people of Jar Jar Binks. I, on the other hand, found the kid to be quite entertaining and surprisingly courageous. None of the characters have story arcs as memorable as Naomi Campbell or Major Zero, however, which means the codec conversations aren't as entertaining or portentous.
I like Raiden's new look, attitude, and character development. The confident, dangerous, and somewhat insane character of this game bears little resemblance to the awkward newcomer of Metal Gear Solid 2 yet perfectly fits with what we know of him. I think the loss of Rosemary, always a somewhat questionable addition to his story, helped matters somewhat. Raiden's wife needs some serious retooling if she's going to be entertaining.
|Yes, he's jumping from missile to missile to attack a giant robot. Why have you not bought this game!? Ahem, sorry.|
The game's soundtrack also bears special note, being composed of almost pure heavy metal. While not all of the tunes are great to listen to when you're not in battle, they're excellent accompaniment to the combat on screen and rarely distracting. I was particularly fond of "Has to Be With This Way" which plays during the final boss fight. So kudos to the developers for coming up with some excellent music, I usually don't compliment the soundtracks during reviews.
Is the game fun? As mentioned above, yes, it is. Unfortunately, the game feels almost half-done. It's not only short but the plot feels like it had additional levels and content which were dropped so the work could be released early. It lacks many of the flourishes which made Metal Gear Solid and its sequels great. There's still plenty of great stuff here and it's definitely worth the purchase cost, especially if you trade it in for store credit at Gamestop thereafter, but there's not much here to keep me occupied indefinitely.