The Metal Gear series is a strange franchise. I mean that in the best of ways though; covering serious subject matters while also having a silly side that just works. The series has had many games release throughout it’s life span and one game many were interested in was called Metal Gear Solid: Rising.
This would blend the stealth gameplay from past games with action/combat where you can cut objects with precise angles. It looked promising but it was silently scrapped within Konami & Kojima Productions.
Kojima went to Platinum Games and asked if they could salvage the game. Fast forward one year and we see Metal Gear Rising: Revengance released on the PS3 and Xbox 360 (with a PC port one year later). With past works like Bayonetta, Madworld and Vanquish under the studio’s belt, does this sword swinging adventure a platinum hit? Or just a bronze metal?
Raiden is taking on work after the ending of Metal Gear Solid 4 and is roped in fighting a new adventure. Having a new cybernetic body after getting his arm cut off during a fight early in the game, he is set to take out cyborg-enhanced warriors threatening the worlds safety.
Metal Gear is known for complex stories and there is a story present filled with com-chats with your allies, long-winded conversations with the many foes you fight and Raiden growing as a character through facing elements of his past he does not want to think about. But this complex story telling clashes with the games goofy nature at various points.
It isn’t afraid to crack a few one liners or have Raiden try hard to be ‘cool’; I love it when the game goes in this direction. The serious parts are done well enough to be enjoyable (more so if you love the Metal Gear Solid story-line) but even causal fans can find enjoyment within Rising’s story.
Standout characters include Raiden’s Robot-Dog sidekick Bladewolf and a little boy named George who has great dialog with Raiden. His team in general is well rounded and the optional conversations you can have with them are enjoyable to listen too. It feels like a Metal Gear game with well rounded characters, just a bit silly compared to prior installments.
The Design & Gameplay
The core gameplay here is not stealth game like prior installments, instead taking pages from Platinum’s own style of games. What we have is an action game using Metal Gear elements to stand out, which works quite well most of the time. Raiden has two basic attacks using Square (light) and Triangle (heavy); pressing them in special combinations enable combos to be pulled off. Other moves include a double jump, run feature by holding down R1 and special ‘blade mode’ which lets you carefully cut foes into pieces.
It’s a major mechanic, as through cutting specific spots on the enemy, you can pull out their core (which fills up your Blade Mode Meter and health). It’s a great system and pushes you to keep on being careful within combat. Raiden also has access to weapons from defeated bosses and fire arms you can find throughout levels. The boss weapons are useful but the weapons you can pick up (like missile launchers and rockets) aren’t that great thanks to poor aiming controls.
You can also purchase more items and moves through points you earn from battles, which are ranked based on how well you play. The better your combos and moves, the higher your point counter. But gameplay isn’t just combat, it has minor platforming and light stealth. Honoring it’s origins as a stealth/action game, you have the option to sneak using boxes/barrels and using Ninja Kills to take out foes undetected. It feels fun playing stealthy but the game was designed first and foremost as an action title, so it’s not as polished compared to mainline Metal Gear Solid games.
Bosses are fantastic though, as they blend strong presentation with great combat design pushing you to master patterns and skillfully use your tool set. I loved these fights and they are easily the best parts of Metal Gear Rising. My only issue with the gameplay is that the camera is a bit tricky to deal with sometimes and that the specific usage of the Blade Mode late in the game can be unresponsive when using the analog stick.
That being said, I loved the gameplay in Rising. It clearly has depth with core mechanics, the level design works well for both action and stealth gameplay and the controls feel great.
Metal Gear Rising is a game that doesn’t last very long; my first playthrough took over six hours. But you can get more from the game if you listen to every conversation with your allies, play on higher difficulty levels and play the free DLC missions with Bladewolf & Jetstream Sam. So while the game isn’t the longest, it has a ‘perfect’ length for the kind of action game it offers.
This is a bit mixed, as the art direction of Metal Gear Solid 4 is present due to taking place after that title…which results in a game looking a bit muddled with often brown and drab looking locations early on. But location variety like sewers, buildings and massive set-pieces make up for this as you playthrough the game.
Performance is impressive, considering it runs at targeted frame rate of 60FPS and hits that frame rate most of the time. It does dip (heavily when in blade mode after cutting things up a lot) but not enough to become a problem. I felt my inputs were responsive and controller lag was solid. It running well ensures the action-focused gameplay remains strong.
The best part of this games presentation is the sound. Sound design itself is great, with slashes of your sword having impact and hearing how the world response to you cutting it up is great too. Voice acting is fantastic and it is lovably campy; matching the games serious but silly tone perfectly.
Music…where do I begin? The music in Rising is amazing rock that adds to the story, as lyrics sung during vocal tracks literary tell the story of people you are fighting. During heated portions of fights with giant mechs or bosses, the vocal track makes it feel grander. Sound mixing works great within combat and music plays at just the right moment making you scream ‘YES!’ once it the track begins. Highlights include ‘Rules of Nature’ and the final boss theme ‘It Has to Be This Way’. They sound so good and I’m tapping my feet the moment they play.
Overall: 4 out of 5
Metal Gear Rising is one of my favorite action games of all time. It does so much right with amazing music, enjoyable story and tight gameplay despite minor issues with the camera from time to time. It’s easily one of Platinum Games best works and a game I can highly recommend to any fan of the action game genre.
This game was reviewed using the PlayStation 3 version I purchased myself. You can buy it on the Xbox 360 and PC via Steam.