The Metal Gear franchise has always been known for its stealth-based gameplay. Against better armed enemies, it’s been routine to hide in a vent or cardboard box instead of facing the threat directly. Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance takes a departure from that tried and true gameplay, and wants you to not only face the threat head-on, but dice it into tiny pieces. This spin-off of the main Metal Gear Solid series casts you in the role of Raiden, a cyborg ninja and the protagonist introduced in Metal Gear Solid 2. Working for a private military company by the name of Maverick Security Consulting, Raiden was part of a recovery program that helped rebuild African countries after civil war. After failing a VIP protection mission at the hands of a rival PMC, Desperado Enforcement, he sets out on a mission to expose the company’s warmongering, and to uncover the deeper political conspiracy surrounding the unstable region.
Metal Gear Rising’s gameplay revolves around its combat, but each combat scenario can be handled differently. Like in previous Metal Gear titles, it is possible to remain undetected by hiding inside boxes and barrels, and completely avoid some combat scenarios. It is also possible to perform stealth kills from above and behind a target, eliminating it in one blow. But after being spotted, you have to clear every enemy in order to advance to the next area. Like traditional action games, Raiden can employ both light and strong attacks, and different attack combos are available depending on the order that you hit each button. After enough damage is dealt, or if an incoming attack is blocked correctly, Raiden can enter “blade mode”, which gives the player complete control over Raiden’s sword. Using the right analog stick on a controller, you can choose the slicing angle, and with a flick of the stick, Raiden will slash in that direction. This can be used to slice through pillars, gates, doors, and even enemies. Some of the larger enemies will force you to slice off arms and legs before they can be destroyed. If you hit the correct area of an enemy in blade mode, you can absorb energy from them, replenishing your health and stamina. The game does have a bit of an unruly camera, which can be a problem during fights with some bosses and large groups of enemies, but with a lock-on button to focus on a specific target, it is often not an issue.
Another high point of Metal Gear Rising is its sound. Each sword swing and slice has a satisfying whoosh of air, and every block is punctuated by a resounding clang that gives weight to the intense combat on screen. The game also features a fast-paced and intense soundtrack, primarily carried by heavy guitar riffs and drum beats, but also incorporating some elements of electronica and dubstep. Each song has at least two mixes, usually an instrumental and vocal version, which the game automatically mixes depending on how you are doing in the fight. The instrumental version will run during most of the fight proper, and the vocal version cuts right into it during the more cinematic combat elements.
For those that have played other Metal Gear games in the past, Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance is a great game to add to your collection. It spins off and carries on Raiden’s story nicely, tying into both Metal Gear Solid 2 and Metal Gear Solid 4. For those that haven’t played a Metal Gear game before, and are simply looking for a good action game, this is still a great choice. There are elements of the plot that relate to previous titles, but the details aren’t large enough to detract from Rising’s own pleasantly twisted narrative. Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance is available on Xbox 360, Playstation 3, and on disk for PC.