Since the series’ first iteration way back in 1987, Hideo Kojima and his crack team of developers continued to expand on their trademark gameplay formula, culminating with the 2008′s magnificent Guns of the Patriots. To call them pioneers of the genre would be a disservice; though Muse Software’s Castle Wolfenstein is often cited as the first stealth orientated gaming experience Metal Gear is, unequivocally, the most recognisable.
Konami’s latest instalment in the series is a completely different kettle of fish, however. Developed by Platinum Games (Bayonetta, Vanquish, Anarchy Reigns) Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance does away with the series’ “Tactical Espionage Action” tagline for something far less subtle. It may not have the same ring to it (especially in the ears of Metal Gear purists) though “Lightning Bolt Action” definitely sums up the series’ latest outing.
Set four years after Guns of the Patriots, Revengeance tells a story fans will have likely heard already. Militarised technology is once again the focal point as shady terrorist organisations lock horns with those who fight to protect the world’s populace. However, with increasing advances in technology, the stakes are much higher- it isn’t just huge death machines you’ll be battling against this time. Cyborg-human hybrids are in great abundance and, unlike their robotic counterparts, are much more versatile and tenacious.
Having only been partially-immersed, it’s fair to say that Revengeance cooks up a narrative trail just as long-winded as its ancestors, though with perhaps less character. Despite receiving a dramatic makeover in Metal Gear Solid 4, Raiden still carries a divisive personality and doesn’t have a patch on Solid Snake. The supporting cast also lacks the same vigour though there’s definitely a chance for them to develop in the full game.
It takes little more than a few minutes of gameplay to understand just how detached from the original series Revengeance truly is. Though features such as the iconic alert system and Codec are still accounted for, Platinum’s distinct (read: bombastic) approach to game design outshines many of these throwbacks.
Environments are fairly large and expansive, though a barrage of invisible walls and straightforward objectives makes this the most linear Metal Gear to date. In fairness this isn’t such a bad thing, mainly because it complements the game’s combat-heavy focus.
It may not be quite as frenetic as Platinum’s Bayonetta but Revengeance often falls into button masher territory. To sweep through waves of opponents, players will need to combine a series of quick/ heavy attacks as well as parries and jumps. It can be repetitive at times, though the game’s most talked-about feature, blade control, helps usher in some degree of variety.
When enabled, this mechanic allows players to draw a straight line across enemies using the right analog stick. Anything that obstructs this line will be hewn in half, whether it be an attacking solider or just a stray watermelons (of which there are plenty.) The precision afforded creates a visual spectacle with each cut of Raiden’s blade able to dissect targets in the tiniest pieces. It’s overpowered for sure, though Rising quickly adapts by throwing armoured enemies into the equation.
Outside of combat situations, there is little to do. Adopting his Ninja Run ability Raiden can climb ledges to reach high spots, usually leading to an item pick-up or a vantage point from which to spy enemy movements. Expendable secondary weapons such as RPGs and grenades can also be obtained along the way, affording players a pre-emptive strike on their opponents before getting roped into a fight.
Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance seems like a solid action title and should definitely appeal to those familiar with Platinum’s previous works. However, for Metal Gear purists, it may be worth avoiding. Though its trespasses are insignificant, from what I’ve played, there’s little chance that Rising will top (or even be on par with) previous instalments in the series, from both a gameplay and narrative viewpoint.