Before continuing, we recommend reading this – it will explain the intentions of the Expansive Overview and what it sets out to achieve.

Metal Gear Rising has been a long time coming. First announced in 2009, it was originally developed by Kojima Productions and set between Metal Gear 2 and Metal Gear 4.

Fast-forward to 2013, Bayonetta and Anarchy Reigns developer, Platinum Games are at the helm, and have created something quite different.

Is it their finest work to date?

Publisher: Konami
Developer: Platinum Games
Release Date: February 19th (NA) / February 22nd (EU) 2013
Format: Xbox 360/Playstation 3
Version Tested: Playstation 3

Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance is set four years after the events of Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots. Raiden is working for a security firm, and the game opens with the blonde cyborg ninja taking on his most important job yet, protecting African Prime Minister, N’Mani. Unfortunately, the limousine and accompanying cars are derailed by an unknown terrorist attack. Raiden is split from the Prime Minister and the leader is soon captured by the rebel group. Raiden fights hard, but is soon overwhelmed by their forces. Samuel Rodriguez, a man of superior skill, beats Raiden within an inch of his life and is close to finishing him, save for a freak act of luck. Pummelled and punished, Raiden is forced to lick his wounds and adorn more powerful, black cyborg armor in order to get back into the game and rise up to turn his oppressors into mincemeat.

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Without question, Rising is going to be compared to DmC. Considering the month-gap between both games, there’s no way of escaping that. In some ways, that’s a fair assessment. In others, it’s not. Both are action/adventures that require a certain degree of button mashing. Both are vicious, brutal, hard-hitting and adrenaline infusing. Both have excellent action and a solid narrative. Yet, both play very differently.

In DmC, players must use offensive diversity in order to produce the most stylish combos, whereas MGR: R focuses on chain attacks and picking the opportune moment to strike. DmC is the more free-roaming title and encompasses a much wider arsenal. MGR, on the other hand, is more structured and linear.

By now, most will have tried the demo and experienced the action for themselves. There are two buttons for use in MGR:R, low and heavy attack. There’s no dodge button and the Ninja Run basically causes players to vault through, over or under any obstacle. It’s this simplicity that makes MGR very easy to sink into, and almost anyone can pick-up-and-play right away. The bad part? Even on the hardest difficulty, the game isn’t at all punishing until the penultimate stages. Once players have mastered defense by aiming the analog in the direction of the attacking enemy, and are also using run to deflect projectiles, they’re practically invincible

But that absolutely suits MGR’s over-the-top tone. You thought DmC was crazy? Some of the set pieces in Metal Gear are ludicrous. Platinum clearly want Raiden to feel like a total bad-ass and with Rising, have developed a fantastic contrast between Kojima’s stealthy, bandana wearing operative and this born-to-hurt assassin. Yes, Raiden can still use espionage to move between points. He can also execute stealth kills when an enemy least suspects it. On the whole, though, it’s all about getting stuck in; which is all I wanted to do anyway. From the moment I picked up Rising, I quickly fell in love with the combat, and while I can’t say it’s better or worse than DmC, I can say it’s an absolute fuckton of fun, and from start to finish, I had no intention of sticking to the shadows.

A big part of the appeal comes in the form of Blade Mode. By holding L1, the analog can be used to slice anything and everything into itty bitty pieces. From the leg of a Metal Gear, to mammoth tanks, and even supporting girders. There’s nothing Raiden’s sword can’t cut through, and Platinum have done a stand-up job, offering various creative scenarios that make use of that throughout the campaign This also leads us onto Zandatsu. When an enemy is weakened, the game prompts the player to enter blade mode, then hack’n'slash their way through different sections of the body until a power-core can be removed. This core replenishes a sizable portion of Raiden’s health and also causes insta-death in enemies. Zandatsu helps make the pace of the game, quicken and ensures Raiden doesn’t get overwhelmed and killed before he’s had a chance to defend himself.

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There are some great pop-culture nods in Rising, not just to other Metal Gear titles, but other franchises as well. Like Bayonetta before it, Metal Gear Rising is riddled with Platinum’s quirky humor, yet remains grounded and authentic thanks to Kojima’s overseeing eye. Even the bosses have undergone the same attention to detail of previous Metal Gear games, though, in some cases, it’s more about the environment the battle takes place in rather than the opponent.

Still, perhaps the biggest question many will have about Rising is how Raiden fares in the lead role for a second time? It’s no secret MGS2 is equally loathed as it is loved, purely because Raiden assumed lead duties for most of the game. Yet, in MGS4, Raiden managed to turn some fans around and convert them to his uber imba ninja army of awesome. In Rising, the naked cartwheeler definitely keeps up that momentum. Though some of his dialogue choices and decisions still feel decidedly wooden and ill-advised, Raiden is suitably bad-ass enough to help players to skirt around those questionable outbursts, and press-on with the action. By the end of Rising, many fans will have forgotten the bitter pill they were forced to swallow back in 2001. For that, Platinum must be commended for doing  what must have seemed impossible to Kojima and co; finalizing an over decade-long Raiden transition, taking him from despised to respected. At last, the cyborg ninja’s future has been secured.

Expansive Opportunities

Rising will probably see most of its DLC in the form of VR missions. These are essentially training skirmishes that task Raiden with performing various set objectives, whether it’s beating a level within a time-limit, avoiding detection en-route to a waypoint, defeating enemies in a certain way or something else entirely. There are around 25 VR missions in the game, but most of them only cover the basics without offering players too much of a challenge. Due to that, I envisage future DLC packs offering much trickier, more complex challenges.

All VR missions have individual leaderboards and medals to award a player, so there’s endless potential to keep filling the game with these.

Ideally, though, i’d rather see DLC that expands the story in some way.  We’ve waited a long time for another Metal Gear game, and we’ve waited an even longer time to see Raiden in a lead-role. There’s a four year gap between MGS4 and Rising, perhaps Platinum and Kojima could explore that? Perhaps they could follow on from the Rising story, or even look at things from the perspective of another character?

I’d also expect to see a lot of costume packs. Rising is already receiving Grey Fox armor, as well as different shades of Raiden’s suit and his MGS4 gear. Perhaps there’ll be something a bit more radical like a Solid Snake costume or even Liquid Snake or The Boss? The MGSverse is massive, and there are plenty of characters to choose from. It would certainly help make the wait for Ground Zeroes a lot easier..

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Fan Questions

I asked you to give me MGR questions and you did. However, you all asked the same question.

How precise is the blade in blade mode? How effective is it?

Mostly, it works well. It has to. A good 50% of the game is reliant on it. That said, I stand by my gut-reaction that the mode would have benefited from Move and maybe even Kinect support for true precision. To control, players hold the analog at one angle and then release it to slice in the other. That’s fine, but alternatively, players can just waggle the analog mindlessly from side to side to cut through things even faster, though this ends up exposing the system, rather than glorifying it. The blade direction doesn’t always go where you intend, and sometimes the analog seems to have trouble with up to down motions. The graphic detail of the blade’s work is truly satisfying, however. Cyborg’s can be cleaved into meat and molecules and left as a pile of crimson ash on the floor.

It’s not a faultless system, and it’s definitely not as precise as Konami would have you believe, but it’s damn fun, very effective and works well within the rules of the game

Conclusion

Metal Gear Rising has been a long time coming, unfortunately, it isn’t a long time lasting. This one is easily burned through in about 4-5 hours. Sadly, the limited number of VR missions won’t really satiate the appetite Rising leaves you with, either. I can tell you, however, that everything about this game feels very replayable. You’ll feel compelled to get all the gold medals and beat your friends times. You’ll also find yourself wanting to start another play through of the game, and maybe even a third.

Platinum have crafted something truly precious in Revengeance. Metal Gear Rising feels like an appropriate spin-off of the Metal Gear Solid world, and while its a lot more action-focused, its a game fans of the series will appreciate as much as those who’ve never experienced Metal Gear before.

Yes, it’s an experiment that probably should never have worked, but the dream team of Kojima and Platinum have released a game  audacious and awesome in equal measure. Revengeance cuts bone-deep from it’s opening moments and refuses to let the player stop for breath until the final credits roll.