The Metal Gear series is known for its long cutscenes, crazy antics, and unapproachable gameplay. Based on the time that I spent with Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance earlier this month in Los Angeles, the collaboration between Kojima Productions and Platinum Games is the most interesting departure to date for the series, and a welcome one at that.
Sitting down with Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance, I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect. I had played the game during E3 and seen the initial reveals, but there wasn’t really any context of how these limited instances would play out in the context of an actual game. My recent, extended look at the first three chapters of the game prove that it pulls together quite well, and much differently than any past Metal Gear title. In Revengeance, there’s a stronger focus put on player involvement in the story and character development.
Unlike past Metal Gear games, where you’d sit through a 30-minute cutscene only to crawl a few feet and watch another, Revengeance focuses on moving the story forward through gameplay and quicktime events, with the longest cutscene clocking in around ten to fifteen minutes. This is clearly a deliberate choice by the team at Platinum Games, and it's one that I appreciate; Revengeance seems less like an interactive film and more like a game with a fun story.
Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance focuses on Raiden, the main protagonist from Metal Gear Solid 2, as he seeks revenge on Jetstream Sam (who dismembers and nearly kills Raiden) and stop a group of organ harvesters kidnapping and killing children on the black market. He’s rebuilt and comes back stronger than ever, but transformed into this all-out rage-filled shell of a man.
The gameplay is what really sets Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance apart. Instead of relying on a gun like most modern gaming heroes, Raiden uses a really sharp sword to slice his enemies into countless tiny pieces of flesh in glorious slow motion. It plays just like any other action game, in that you have to wear them down with a few light or heavy attacks before you can cut them to pieces, but it works better that way.
Attacking enemies will fill up your blade meter that, once filled, allows you to enter Blade Mode, the slow motion free-aim mode that allows you to slice your enemies into as many pieces as you possibly can. If you slide down their spine it will pop out, allowing you to harvest it and refill your health and blade meter. If you manage to get multiple enemies in the same sequence you can chain-harvest spines, crushing multiple enemies at the same time. There’s no benefit to crushing multiple enemies as your meters fill after the first, but sure looks cool. That might sound a bit over the top, but they’re cyborgs, not humans, so the action doesn't feel quite so gruesome.
Perhaps the most notable difference in Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance is the inclusion of humor throughout, and not in the same way that past Metal Gear games could be so crazy that they were funny, but there’s actual jokes peppered throughout. It’s even clear that Platinum Games had a weird (read: awesome) obsession with Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. At first this seemed like nothing more than a random shot in the dark, but it soon became clear that it was more overt than anything as a child spouted “Go Ninja, Go Ninja, Go!” as Raiden ran through the sewers. This was only further confirmed as each one of the bosses uses the same style of weapons as the Turtles.
While all this might seem a bit out of place for the series, it fits the tone of the game well. Everything is completely over the top, and just plain fun. It’s very reminiscent of Asura’s Wrath, not in that it’s all cutscenes and quicktime events, but rather the feeling that I couldn’t stop smiling from how over-the-top and exciting everything was. That’s not something that we see much of these days, especially in a Metal Gear game, and I think it makes for a refreshing take on the series from Platinum Games.
It’s still a few months before the promised February 19th launch, but from what I’ve played so far, Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance is one of my most anticipated games of 2013.