The 2013 release of Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance was a step in a new direction for the Metal Gear franchise. Console players on the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 gave a heaping helping of praise to the Platinum Games & Kojima Productions collaboration. And why not? PLatinum Games rarely disappoints, and Rising took one of the longest running franchises in gaming and turned it on its ear. Hack-n-slash at its core, with all the craziness of the Metal Gear universe.
While PC players were left out of the party, that’s recently just changed with the release of Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance on Steam. The old saying holds true yet again. Good things do come to those who wait, and Steam users just got the best version of the game. It’s better looking, with customizable graphics options to leverage the power of modern computers. It’s certainly not a direct port from the console version, it looks noticeably better and with action as fast as is found in this game, higher frame rates help smooth out the gameplay experience as well. It’s got full controller support, includes all the previously released downloadable content, and it’s $30. Even as someone who played this game on consoles when it was released, and enjoyed it immensely, it’s hard not to appreciate this version of the game as the definitive release.
With Platinum Games handling the gameplay, and the familiar graphics and story line from Kojima Productions, Metal Gear Rising Revengeance seems like a match made in heaven. While fans of the franchise may be impassioned about the different tune that Rising sings, fans of the chaotic action that Platinum Games is capable of delivering will surely appreciate the trade-offs. Rising stars Jack (Raiden), the controversial character that was introduced back in Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty, and then more recently seen in Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots. If you’ve played MGS4, you’ll know Raiden from the incredible cutscenes where he battled Vamp with his trademark blade. The good news for those that were amazed by these scenes in Guns of the Patriots is that Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance is exactly this, except now, you control everything.
Revengeance is set in the Metal Gear Solid Universe, after the events of Guns of the Patriots. Those familiar with the backstory for Raiden know that he is a cyborg who was trained in virtual reality, but also has a bloody past as a child soldier better known as “Jack the Ripper” in Liberia. Since this Metal Gear game is all about Raiden, the story is one that fits into his timeline, and develops him more fully than we’ve seen in past Metal Gear games. His quest is to stop an organization known as “Desperado Enterprises”. These bad guys are harvesting children’s brains and training them in virtual reality similar to how his childhood transformation began.
Metal Gear Rising Revengeance is a brand new experience for action fans, this is not something that you’ve seen before.
Metal Gear Rising is a game that is brilliant at times, and at others, feels like a project that was full of indecision. Apparently Metal Gear Rising wasn’t always going to be an action title. While Kojima Productions introduced the game as such, they had problems making the game they wanted to make. As a result, Rising was quietly cancelled and put on hold. Enter Platinum Games, which means the action is fast and chaotic, but it maintains a nice rhythmic feel, similar to that found in previous games from the developer in this genre. But comparisons can stop there. Metal Gear Rising Revengeance is a brand new experience for action fans, this is not something that you’ve seen before. Rising is a crazy new take on the Metal Gear franchise. In a perfect world, this developer mashup should work, but there are a lot of things in games that sound like they should work and fail miserably. Thankfully these two teams have made a game that not only is completely fresh, but also satisfies that craving for more Metal Gear goodness. That is probably attributable to Kojima Productions allowing Platinum to handle the things that they know best after realizing that action wasn’t their strong suit.
Platinum Games makes incredible hack-n-slash games. Bayonetta is an example of some of their best work this generation, and Rising is a unique entry on their resume. It feels like no other game in its genre because of the interesting blade mechanics found in the game’s combat system. There’s a lot to dig into in Rising, and coming into the game for the first time, it could take two or three chapters before you start putting everything together. Metal Gear Rising probably could have been an alright action-melee style game without the first person Zan Datsu blade mode, but the combination of the the third and first person controls make each battle a unique occurrence. While every battle starts off in third person, as an enemy is weakened, spots on their body will be highlighted that can be attacked in the first person mode. You can hack off limbs or any area of the body that is highlighted. Furthermore, if you can slice specific spots on an enemy you pick up extra in-game currency or powerups. In battles with multiple enemies, knowing when to go into blade mode can replenish your health at crucial moments in a fight. The combat looks fantastic too, whether judging it in the third person perspective, or in the time slowed and cinematic instances.
Alongside the combat, there’s a ton of customization to dig into in Rising as well. Raiden can be customized and outfitted with numerous alterations, some cosmetic and others that increase vital statistics and introduce new attacks. These customizations are earned by how you perform in battle. You’ll be graded on each encounter, and awarded Battle Points for how well you perform. This score is tallied and placed into a bank for you to use on these customizations. They include battle skills, buffs to health and endurance, skins, and unique weapons that can be purchased to use throughout the campaign. The DLC that comes with the PC version of the game will add some interesting new unlockables in the customization menu, but you’ll still need to purchase them with coin that you earn by playing the game.
Metal Gear Rising has a ton of callbacks to the previous games of the Metal Gear franchise that will keep fans entertained. The inclusion of stealth and the traditional radar mechanics play a big role in this game. You’ll be dodging cameras, auto turrets, and even scurrying around in a cardboard box at times. Some areas are easier to progress through if taking a more tactical approach. While it’s a far cry from Metal Gear Solid 4, you can and will do your fair share of sneaking up on enemies and dispatching them silently when separated from the pack. For Metal Gear fans, the mileage on this story will vary. Since it explores Jack, his roots, and a personal mission, it will depend on if players can relate to this character like they have to the ones in other Metal Gear games.
Undoubtedly, the biggest issue in Metal Gear Rising Revengeance is the camera. Right from the beginning it won’t be hard to recognize the problems here. Moving and controlling the camera will consistently pan your view to the center of the screen, regardless of where your enemy is. I hoped it would be one that could be overcome with more time spent in the game. Unfortunately, it’s such a glaring issue that for the many steps forward Metal Gear Rising takes in your journey, it also continually takes one step back each and every time this problem pops up. What makes it twice as bad is that Metal Gear Rising has a steep and unforgiving enemy AI (on any skill level) that will exploit you each and every time you get turned around by the camera. Even when you finally do get the range of controls down and on-screen prompts committed to recognition, you’ll still see your death brought upon by a mistimed camera pan that turns you around. It happens throughout the entire campaign and is going to be something you have to deal with if you’re going to play this game. It doesn’t help that a lot of the enemies in Rising are fast-moving. They will literally be doing circles around you, and since its difficult to the pan the camera and detect when an enemy is getting ready to attack, it can be frustrating, this goes double for enemies that are in the air and moving.
Would be purchasers also need to keep in mind that Metal Gear Rising is a single player game. It has only seven chapters in it. These are good chapters, but for those looking for that massive Metal Gear experience that previous games in the franchise have had, you won’t find that here. There are a lot of cutscenes whose length is not to the extent of previous Metal Gear Games, but are considerable chunks of Rising nonetheless. Add these to the approximately hour or so that you spend in each mission, plus deaths (which there will be), and you’ll probably clock in somewhere around 7 hours in Metal Gear Rising. It definitely feels a little short when other games in the franchise are such massive affairs. The last three out of seven levels are basically boss battles, and it’s unclear why Platinum didn’t continue to expand on the fighting content in these latter levels. It almost feels rushed at the end, and handed off to Kojipro to sum up the experience in a bunch of Metal Gear craziness. It’s hard to tell who had their fingers in what, but more combat in the latter stages would have been nice. Instead, the computer just advises you to try and run past a number of PMCs to get to your final destination. Past the single player campaign, there are a host of VR missions that can be picked up as collectibles, depending on how much you like trying to master these, you could be playing for some time more.
The PC release includes all the previously released DLC
This PC release does include two pieces of story DLC, which features a side campaign for two different characters in the game. The first is story DLC for Jetstream Sam, and will take you a couple hours to complete from start to finish. It adds in a completely new combat system for this character, fills in some of the backstory that you don’t get from the main campaign, and will also give you a handful of new VR missions to tackle. The second piece of DLC is the Blade Wolf content, allowing you to take control of a completely new type of character. About the same length as the Jet Stream Sam DLC, this will take you another two hours to complete, but again, will fill in some of the blanks when it comes to backstory for this character that plays a large role in the game’s main campaign. Altogether the full experience is extended around 50% with this additional content, and certainly worth exploring when picking up the PC version of the game.
Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance is what PC ports should strive to be. Far from a brainless port, Rising feels like a game that takes advantage of the added power on the PC, and for $30 it’s a no-brainer for any Metal Gear fan. Hack-n-slash connoisseurs will also appreciate Platinum’s unique mechanics in Rising. Hacking off limbs and snagging electrolytes from your enemies as you battle never gets old, but that might also be because of how short the game is.