Cut things with unnecessary precision in Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance
It almost seems like the only way Raiden’s story could have been told was through Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance. He needed a worthy foe (or several of them); epic battles which required brute force and cunning (but mostly brute force), and a cause that was the perfect blend of cliché and near-future counterterrorism (both brilliantly achieved with the children’s-organs-being-harvested-to-make-cyborgs storyline). Revengeance, like Raiden, is a different animal from Solid Snake and Metal Gear Solid. It’s simpler, where the enemy is right in front of you, often in great numbers. He (or she) might talk a lot and not make a whole lot of sense, but right there nonetheless, waiting to be taught a brutally violent lesson.
If you’re not already aware, in Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance, you play as Raiden, a cyborg armed with a Samurai sword (among other things) and a desire for vengeance. At the beginning of the game, he’s not as much into revenge as you would think. While on a security detail protecting an African politician, Raiden, who now works for private military contractor Maverick, and his convoy are ambushed by PMC Desperado — a terrorist organisation led by a beastly southern-American accent-wielding bad guy called Sundowner. During the ensuing battle, Raiden is cut to size (quite literally) by Sundowner’s minion, Jetstream Sam, causing Raiden all sorts of discomfort. Well, you can guess what happens next. In what isn’t entirely untypical of a game set in the Metal Gear universe, Raiden is enhanced with a variety of cybernetic implants that result in better all-round Cyborg-Ninja-ness. And he wants revenge; among other things.
Revenge is a dish best served cold, but Platinum Games would argue that it is best served with cold steel. This brings us to Revengeance’s biggest positive: the fast, fluid and ultra-responsive combat engine. The fluidity in combat can greatly be attributed to the fact that Revengeance runs at 60 frames per second, which drives the game forward with a tremendous sense of urgency. Most of the action involves cutting things, and people… with unnecessary precision. One of your controller’s buttons is mapped to your primary weapon, the Katana — there’s a single attack button for this weapon when you’re not in the game’s biggest selling point, the “free slicing” Blade Mode. Holding down a shoulder/trigger button lets you make surgically precise vertical, diagonal and horizontal cuts (with either buttons or an analog stick) to anything that’s within the range of your blade. Achieve a Zandatsu (“cut and take”) by making precise slices and you will be rewarded with anything from a health and fuel cell recharge to BP, which can be used to purchase upgrades.
Simply put, there’s nothing quite like Revengeance’s combat. Not even Platinum Games’ previous efforts (Bayonetta and Vanquish scored highly in this department) come close to what Revengeance puts out in every single one of its gorgeously violent skirmishes. There’s something here for every kind of hack-and-slash player — button mashers will see their mashing yield surprising results (boss battles do require a bit of strategy, admittedly), while the calculating tactician will see his efforts rewarded appropriately. The story mode is, basically, a fantastic compilation of small and large scale set pieces interspersed with Metal Gear-length cutscenes designed to break the (supposed) monotony.
It’s pretty easy to dislike the often-badly written dialogue, tasteless use of profanity/violence, and poorly established/developed characters, but there’s something endearing about the attempted humour, and then there are the constant attempts (successful attempts within the context of the game’s universe) to be stylish and cool. The game’s protagonist will literally stop at nothing to look and sound cooler than he did in a previous instance — and this is a guy who’s a Cyborg Ninja. If all of this doesn’t make you want to play Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance, I don’t know what will. The game is available on PS3 and Xbox 360.