Saturday, April 9, 2016

Review #317: Metal Gear Rising - Revengeance

 More like, rethink your title so that it's a real word. Am I right or am I right?
 Metal Gear Rising is a hack-and-slash action game spun off from the Metal Gear Solid franchise, starring our favorite Cyborg Ninja: Raiden. It's a wildly different take on the franchise, that offers a lot interesting ideas to the genre, even if it doesn't break any new ground.

 The story takes place after Metal Gear Solid 4, Raiden now sporting a more human-like cyborg body fails to protect his client, and is left eyeles and armless by Jetstream Sam, a member from group of terrorists, Desperado. Armed with a new cybernetic body and a need of vengeance, Raiden goes off to stop Desperado. The story is... a bit of a mixed bag. The story itself is alright, but sometimes it feels as if it was written by a group of people, or the writer hadn't a clear idea of what he wanted. You'll go from learning about kids being stripped of their bodies and organs, turned into cybernetic brains and eyes, forced to endure combat VR training, to... to getting punted like a ball by a boss and having an invisible audience cheer him. As a matter of fact, the final boss sometimes feels like a caricature, which is funny, because at times it felt like this pseudo american parody was getting somewhere... only to turn into something out of a caricature, that likes to use Sumo moves. Yeah. It also goes full anime at times, with a pre-teen girl building a rocket ship, or juvenile humor like 'Taking a Doomp'... yeah, it's hard to pinpoint what the tone they wanted for the game was. Also, they decided to bring back Raiden's nickname, 'Jack the Ripper', y'know, that thing that is mentioned during Metal Gear Solid 2? Now it's somewhat of a split personality.... I don't even.... For what its worth, the cutscenes are at their best when stuff happens, because there's some seriously cool scenes to be seen. Just try to turn your brain off when the characters start talking. The audiovisual presentation is a bit lacking as well, characters' faces are off somehow, and Raiden's voice actor sometimes tries to sound ruff, but it comes off as forced.
 But gameplay is where it's at with this game, and it delivers. Your main offensive tool is your sword, which is can be used with weak and strong attacks. Later in the game you'll earn new weapons that can be equipped as your strong attacks. It may throw you off at first, but there's no sidestepping in the game, so you'll have to rely on parrying, which is done by pressing weak attack and the direction the attack is coming from. Parrying is very important and a necessity, the game will quickly pound you into the ground until you learn how to parry incoming attacks. The game's main mechanics is Blade Mode, holding L1 enter you into 'Blade Mode', in which you can cut in almost in direction by combining both analog sticks... or you can just mash square and triangle. A lot of stuff on the environments can be cut down, but enemies need to be worn down before you can freely cut them apart, which you can tell since their weakened body parts will blue. As a matter of fact, once their torso turns blue, you can cut them apart to reveal cells that can be used to refill your entire health bar and the gauge that allows Blade Mode.

 Combat works almost perfectly. I felt like the targeting system was a bit weak, as pulling off certain moves was a bit hard, and even while targeting an enemy, if you accidentally push towards another and attack, you will attack this other enemy instead. I also disliked the relatively high amount of QTEs the game is filled with, just give me cutscenes, they look cool and I don't need to bother pressing buttons in order to make me feel like I'm doing something when I'm not. I mean, some of the QTE segments are impossibly cool, like running over missiles, but if you are gonna use QTEs I 'd rather get a cutscene. There's also a few optional stealth sections. They feel very out of place in an action game, but the icing on the cake comes from the fact that characters will chastise you for not approach the enemies stealthily. Guys, this is NOT Metal Gear Solid, this is an Action game. I want to fight stuff, not silently kill it from behind. And I need to mention just how good the soundtrack is, and it's timed so that the music gets really cool during the coolest moments.
 And now comes the bad news.... the entire game is 4 hours long, less if you skip cutscenes. On its defense, there's about 20 VR Missions to find, and then complete, there's also unlockable weapons and costumes by finding hidden Data storages and cutting 30 arms of certain enemies, so there's certainly a fair amount of replay value. Early in the game's life, Konami released two Campaign DLC packs, one letting you play as Jetstream Sam, and the other as Bladewolf. Each costed $10, but Konami eventually made them free. And it's easy to see why, both are about an hour long, have no new environments, enemies or bosses, although they have a few new cutscenes. Since these include so little new stuff, they might as well just made both characters playable in the main Story, since they offer entirely different movesets from Raiden, and it would've been nice to have more game to try them on in.

 Metal Gear Rising - Revengeance was a valiant effort from Platinum games. While it took me a while to learn just how important Parrying was, I eventually ended up loving the combat system. Cutting stuff is so much fun! But there's so little game to try all these fun mechanics in, and the story was so... baffling, I didn't know what it was going for. And it's true, MGS has always had humor in its story, but this one had some very off-putting moments. Not that it really matters, since the gameplay is what matters, and gameplay they got right.
 8.0 out of 10

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