Friday, 13 December 2013

Review: Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance (PS3)

In a word - Mental

Aside from having one of those names that would make some throw their collected dictionary and thesaurus's out the window, Metal Gear Rising Revengeance is actually pretty slick as a third person action game.  This isn't really surprising when you see that it was developed by Platinum games, developers of hits such as Bayonetta, Anarchy Reigns,Vanquish and Mad World.  All of those games are completely batshit insane and trying to explain them to someone who has never played a Platinum game is impossible.

Those left hands are useful for unlocks
Speaking of impossible Metal Gear Revengeance here is pretty much off the wall with craziness here.  It's essentially a playable anime complete with over the top bad guys, ridiculous amounts of violence, gore, awkward comedy moments and so bad it's good voice acting.  Anyone even vaguely familiar with the Metal Gear franchise will know about the marmite character of Raiden, Metal Gear Solid 2's protagonist now turned cyber ninja extraordinaire.  Ever since the fall of the Patriots Raiden has joined squeaky clean PMC Maverick.  While working a routine escort job for a random African president, Raiden encounters the forces of the opposing PMC known as Desperado who abduct and kill the president to create chaos in the region.  In the ensuing battle Raiden is schooled by the hilariously named samurai Jetstream Sam, almost being killed in the process.

The events in Africa drive Raiden to seek revenge for his loss and subsequent injuries and also to find out what Desperado's true motivations are.  Outside of this simple setup the story goes off into the usual anime rhetoric about human nature and the evils of capitalism and how humanity is always teetering on the edge of self destruction, but that isn't why you play Revengeance.  The reason you play it is because of the absolutely ridiculous combat system.  Raiden is a cybernetic super ninja basically and as such can dash at incredible speed, bounce bullets away with his katana, cut soldiers into shreds and run along missiles that are flying toward him.

The combat is simple but has many layers of complexity to it.  Simple attacks can generally do the trick against a majority of foes while stronger attacks can be used during combo's to launch foes into the air for a more devastating aerial combo or as a way to escape multiple foes surrounding Raiden.  New weapons become available which can also alter the way Raidens combo system works, each having a specific function but in my opinion the best of the bunch is the whip spear simply because of it's high speed, good reach and ability to strike multiple foes.

it wouldn't be metal gear without one being in there
Combat is more tricky though when you factor in counters which manually can be quite tough to get used to.  They work on a timing mechanic where you have to strike the target who is about to attack you to counter their swing.  It's extremely rewarding to do this against multiple targets but can become extremely difficult during certain boss battles like Monsoon.  Fortunately the game has an automatic setting for easy difficulty and the game plays much better with this being handled by the computer for you.  Counters are essential to executing Zandatsu techniques which allow Raiden to heal and regenerate his energy.

Zandatsu attacks are probably the main gimmick of the game as they allow you to literally cut enemies into little pieces with the game tracking how many pieces you just sliced some poor bastard into and what body parts you removed while doing it.  I won't lie it's pretty fun to systematically remove a soldiers hands, legs and then his head in slow motion before watching the pieces fall to the floor in a neat pile.  The system becomes more tactical against some of the larger foes as removing their leg can prevent them from leaping, or cutting their arms off prevent them from grabbing you.

outside of the combat though the game is extremely shallow.  The levels are all pretty perfunctory and not really memorable, in fact most levels are one colour and that's grey.  Warehouses, office buildings, secret labs, air bases, gas refineries all of them are just bland corridors or rooms with sword fodder in them.  There a couple of locations that stand out but they are few and far between in a game that will only take you around four hours to complete on easy.  For the asking price four hours of playing time isn't great and if this wasn't a game I acquired through PlayStation Plus I would never have played it.

I know platinum are masters at making games with awesome combat and memorable characters but I don't know maybe the Metal gear setting hamstrung them from creating some really interesting maps to fight around.  The character design is great with some awesome looking cybernetics gear and weapons.  Boss battles are unique and quite fun even with the quick time events basically showing off all the cool moments.

This is the in game detail for characters
There is some light RPG elements with upgrades for your weapons and new skills to unlock alongside some visual changes such as a Mariachi costume for Raiden but again it isn't deep and most players will be button mashing away to try and learn any of the skills in their first playthrough anyway.  Still it's appreciated that there is something to work toward in between levels.

Probably one of the more annoying aspects though is the conversations which sometimes kill the games momentum.  After fighting off a group of cybernetic killer wolves you are immediately hit with a pointless conversation that takes minutes to play out and boils down to "get there quickly Raiden, before they escape".  This happens alot even when urgency is key, NPC's constantly talk your robotic ears off.  The game even has hours of optional conversations which can be accessed from the select menu.  There is a trophy related to listening to them all, but it just stinks of padding to try and extend the game.

Graphically the game is mixed in my opinion.  The characters look incredibly detailed with some really nice animations and expressions, but the environments look really flat and uninspired.  Some environment textures up close just look pixelated and ugly.  Fortunately for most the onscreen spectacle of the combat will likely hide these imperfections unless you stop to check them out after a fight.

The sound is good as far as combat effects go while the music is just dire.  This awful thrash metal techno thing plays whenever a fight starts and most of the time is just noise in the background giving no weight to the scene.  Where music is meant to contribute to a scene or emphasise a certain mood, the music here achieves none of it.  The voice acting however is golden for how awful it is.  Raiden sounds pretty hilarious about halfway through the game and the characters of Sundowner and Doktor are so stereotyped you would think it was written by Vince McMahon.  There a few ham fisted attempts at comedy throughout the game all of them being very Japanese and will only appeal to fans who enjoy anime/manga style comedy, it's not a bad thing but it all depends on your knowledge of Japanese characterisation.

Overall Metal Gear Rising Revengeance is fun.  It's not £40 fun but it is one of those games that will probably stick with you simply because of how mental the whole thing is.  The story isn't great but the combat is perfect and really that's all you need in a Platinum game.

SCORE: 7.0/10


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