Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance: The Advocate review

It’s been a general rule that if your game was canceled several years ago, trying to resurrect that title only brings pain and suffering to the player, as the publisher tries to make a quick buck before anyone notices. Titles like “Duke Nuk’em: Forever” and “Aliens: Colonial Marines” shared similar fates of being canceled, then revived and shoved out the door.

“Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance” is not such a title. Having been rescued from the pit of vaporware by the crazy minds at Platinum Games, MGR has transformed Hideo Kojima’s Metal Gear franchise formula of stealth action into pure over the top “hack and slash” action, with cyborg ninja Raiden from “Metal Gear Solid 4” thrust into the starring role.

The story

Metal Gear Rising’s story is set four years after the incredibly-convoluted ending of MGS4. Despite a relative period of calm, a para-military corporation decides to spark a new conflict, killing the African leader that Raiden was hired to protect, and leaving Raiden himself critically wounded. After getting what was left of his body transplanted into a new cyborg body, Raiden begins his journey to destroy the ones who murdered his client; a journey that takes him to locales not often seen in video games, such as Abkhazia, Guadalajara, and Colorado.

For those who like Kojima’s less-than-subtle commentary on war, politics, and technology, fear not! This game also has ample amounts of backstory to pore through in cutscenes and optional codec conversations with Raiden’s support team. Topics such as transhumanism, the evolution of artificial intelligence, and the “war economy” are there for your listening pleasure in between the gameplay bits where you chop enemies into tiny little slices.

The gameplay

Raiden’s main weapon is a special katana that can cut through almost anything. Not just cyborgs, but bridges, trees, and various crates. Another interesting little function is the special “Blade Mode” that briefly slows down time while allowing you to literally aim your sword strikes using the right stick. Combined with a parry system that allows you to parry-riposte most enemies without needing a block button, you can practically do all those crazy, impossible moves that Raiden does in the cutscenes without breaking a sweat.

To keep the action fast-paced, Raiden also has a technique called “Zandatsu,” or “cut-and-take” in English. Rather than rely solely on regenerating health or rations to keep your health up, Raiden uses Zandatsu to literally rip extra health and energy out of defeated cyborgs’ spines before they hit the ground–provided you cut them in just the right spot using Blade Mode. Aside from being a useful technique, it is amazing to watch.

Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance

There are a few parts where MGR asks you to try being stealthy, which gave me a bit of whiplash, considering such a heavy emphasis is put on action. I suppose that was Kojima trying to add a bit of stealth in the game. However, Raiden does have the capability to perform one-hit kills on unaware enemies, so think of it as a little bonus.

The main story mode itself is a little short. Some people have claimed to run through the entire game in about four hours–maybe less if you skip the cutscenes and some optional battle sequences. Having said that, there are extra difficulty modes, VR Missions to test your skills in increasingly difficult challenges, and a range of weapons and items to unlock with in-game money. Some extra downloadable content has been promised, if you feel like spending extra real money on this game in the future.

The presentation

One of the things Kojima insisted on during development was that the action run at a smooth 60 frames-per-second, which has become a double-edged sword for this game. The action certainly feels close to 60 FPS, with all the crazy attacks you can pull off and defend against without any noticeable stutter or lag. However, to achieve this you can clearly see where they had to cut back on level design, throwing up literal invisible walls to prevent you from straying too far off the beaten path, and limiting some fight sequences inside small offices or tunnels.

On a similar note, there is a sewer level in this game. I hoped that the field of game design had come far enough to recognize that sewer levels are rarely fun to play through, but apparently not.

The verdict

Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance is a great game, if a bit short. If you are a fan of the Metal Gear franchise or some kind of OCD completionist, then chances are you bought this title and have beaten it five times already. If you are on the fence, I’d recommend that you rent it (if there are any places left for that sort of thing) or wait for a sale before buying it. Just be warned that the final boss may make you break your controller in frustration if you aren’t very good at this sort of game.