Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance and its troubled development cycle.
Originally announced at the Microsoft E3 press conference in 2009, under the name of Metal Gear Rising, the game was set to bridge the gap between the MGS2 and MGS4. However, the in-house development team at Kojima Productions hit a roadblock due to the challenging design (free-form cutting) of the game. The game was then secretly cancelled.
Kojima thought it would be best if they could get outside help with the game, preferably a development studio which knew its way around action games. Platinum Games was chosen for more than obvious reasons; their universal acclaim in melee action made them a prime candidate for the project. The reshuffling of teams was publicized alongside a short video documentary that detailed the reason for transitioning the project. Platinum was granted much more creative freedom, which shifted the story to after the events of MGS4 and modified the gameplay to require less stealth than previous titles. Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance was given a second chance.
After the events of MGS4, Jack, or Raiden, finds himself working for a US PMC group, Maverick Security. He was tasked with helping a country in Africa with military training. The Prime Minister of the country, N’Mani, is being transported alongside Raiden when all hell breaks loose. The convoy is attacked by a Desperado, which is a PMC terrorist group. The Prime Minister is soon kidnapped by Sundowner the leader of Desperado. This marks the beginning of Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance.
“IT DOESN’T PLAY LIKE PREVIOUS METAL GEAR GAMES, BUT REVENGEANCE DOES TRY ITS BEST TO FEEL LIKE ONE”
In the first few moments of the game, you encounter your first boss battle which just happens to be a Metal Gear. It’s a large scale and exciting boss battle that gets the juices flowing. It could have easily been something reserved for a boss mid-game, but Platinum wanted to start of the game strong and they definitely did.
Revengeance pulls off boss battles brilliantly, as they are unique and really make Raiden look and feel like a badass. The base combat is also done well. Right of the bat; Raiden has enough moves in his arsenal to pull of some cool looking combos. Upgrading Raiden also becomes a fundamental part of the experience as it allows Raiden to learn new skills and unlock weapons that you are rewarded for defeating key bosses in the game. Unlock points are rewarded by playing the game well; pulling off long combos, defeating enemies quickly and performing Zan-Datsu.
Blade mode and Zan-Datsu work in tandem and set Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance apart from any other action game I have played. The free-from cutting can be likened to what was found in Zelda: Skyward Sword, however, it is done much faster in Revengeance, and with a tad bit more degree of freedom. Cars, boxes, barrels, fences, humans, cyborgs, and almost anything and anyone can be cut time and time again. You can literally cut an enemy into more than a 1000 little chunks. Performing Zan-Datsu fills up Raiden’s life bar and his energy levels which allows him to enter a slow-mo and stronger version of Blade mode, which is needed to cut weakened limbs and be more precisely with the cutting.
“CARS, BOXES, BARRELS, FENCES, HUMANS, CYBORGS, AND ALMOST ANYTHING AND ANYONE CAN BE CUT TIME AND TIME AGAIN”
The combat is lightning fast in Revengance. When Raiden has all of his moves unlocked, chaining combos together feels awesome. The unlockable weapons are also a treat due to their variety and the different ways you can experiment with them. The game’s sense of speed is due to the game running at around 60 FPS at all times, except when the game is occasionally hit with slowdowns. It doesn’t happen often, but when it does, it’s quite noticeable. The animations in the game are something to commend as well, from the ones found in quick-time events to the ones in the combat engine, they all work well and deliver the feel of being a badass cyborg ninja.
Going back to the boss battles, I can safely say that they are easily the highlight of the game. There is tremendous variety in how you fight the major boss battles as well as the mini-bosses. Platinum knows how to mix things up and they did a tremendous job with how each boss is fought; be prepared to use every evasive maneuver in your arsenal to hold your own in these tough battles.Major battles are also very stylish, often times the game reminds me off things that were only possible in my favorite action heavy animes. It’s crazy, over the top action. The game cranks up the badass rating to 11.
However, things are far from perfect in Raiden’s quest for vengeance. In fact, it becomes a question of where do start to explain where the game goes wrong. Starting with the combat, while it is very well done, has some nagging issues that tend to bring the experience down later on in the game. While not noticeable in the early segments on the game, the camera position becomes a real problem when the game throws a fair amount of enemies at you. The camera in MGSR: R is pulled up very close to the main character as opposed to other action games where it is a sizeable distance away.
“THINGS ARE FAR FROM PERFECT IN RAIDEN’S QUEST FOR VENGEANCE”
The game does try to remedy that situation by including a lock-on mode, but it’s so unintuitive in the way it works, that using it just ends up being a chore. The lock-on mode uses a button on the control pad, which was a mistake on Platinum’s part. It could have easily been transferable to a click on one of the thumb sticks. The extra button could have gone towards things that would have been much more useful.
Like the ability to switch weapons on the fly. As you defeat pivotal bosses in MGSR:R, you are granted the ability to unlock their weapons. To use these unlocked weapons, you need to enter a menu to set them up. However, when a secondary weapon is selected it replaces one of your attack buttons for the HF Blade (your main weapon). This restricts the amount of combo’s you can pull off with the HF Blade. If another button on the controller was freed up, we could have potentially had some weapon switching akin to DmC: Devil May Cry taking place.
Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance also suffers from a narrative point as well. While the plot starts out tangible enough, it soon loses its grip and flies into absurdity. Character clichés based on color and countries of origin are thrown in, a black guy with braids? Check. How about a Russian man with a generic Russian name and accent? Check that too. Character motivations are unclear. Cut scenes start becoming too long with nothing interesting to tell; other than jokes that fall flat. It also doesn’t help that the voice acting and dialogue is also all over the place. This game has some of the worst voice acting I have recently heard from any video game.I can see what Platinum is trying to do with MGSR:R which is infusing Kojima’s narrative style by focusing on eccentric characters and a complicated plot but Platinum fails at nearly every aspect of it. It becomes a parody of the very thing it is trying to imitate and not a great one at that. This game is more in line with Meet the Spartans than Austin Powers. None of the characters are likeable; the only bearable character is Raiden, but even he comes across as a really bad and unfocused character.
“REVENGEANCE ALSO SUFFERS FROM A NARRATIVE POINT”
Speaking about unfocused; the level design in the game is a prime example of that. It suffers from the common ‘Japanese action game’ syndrome where the environments you fight in don’t make any sense. They don’t have any logical scale and they change from different ideas on the fly. A sewer that leads to an underground high-tech lab? Or how about a really, really tall skyscraper, which somehow has a miniature old style Japanese city in it. In America. It really doesn’t make any sense at all. This wouldn’t be too large of an issue if they environments were pretty to look at it but that’s not the case.
The Metal Gear games have always been known to bring a certain kind of visual flair; often times, breaking the bar in video game graphics. This is not going to be one of those games. Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance is an ugly game. Aside from some of the few great character designs nothing will really catch your attention from the visual design that Platinum brings to the Metal Gear franchise.
As for the music, it’s terrible.
Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance is a great action game but everything that surrounds it simply doesn’t work.
Misguided writing, a nonsensical plot and eye-soring graphics really bring the final product down. However, lovers of action games should definitely not turn this down, as it more than works through its negatives to bring something great to the table. Gamers looking for something more insightful will think of this as a great B movie in video game form and nothing more.