Though much maligned in his first appearance in Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty the character Raiden would eventually be given a second chance thanks to some wild cyborg ninja antics that were part of the crazy finale to Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots. It seemed that his redemption in that game would also be the end of his story but it turns out that Konami and PlatinumGames had other ideas.
Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance opens with Raiden, now working for a private military company (PMC), providing security detail for a politician when they are attacked by a rogue PMC group who smash through the protection not only killing the politician but leaving Raiden himself close to death. And that’s just the beginning of the game!
Unlike it’s Metal Gear Solid relatives stealth is not really an option here… it’s really a game that focuses on all out action. The main controls of Raiden are seem straightforward on the Xbox 360/One with the left stick moving the character and the X/Y buttons for the light and heavy attacks. However when you use the right bumper you can then use the right stick to control the swinging of Raiden’s sword making for some quite detailed slicing and dicing of enemies which can net you a nice bonus if you become good at it.
When earlier I say the controls seem straightforward I mean it as I’m finding it’s not the easiest game to just pick up and play. Being able to master combat can take some time (even with the limited tutorials) and it can be frustrating with how easy it is to die from attacks by lesser enemies let alone the bigger ones. It feels like a game you’ll want to commit to spending a lot of time on to get a hang of the controls – the opening sections of the game don’t do enough to instruct you adequately either and if you didn’t like it then it might be too easy to simply walk away from it. There were plenty of people in that same situation judging from articles from that time.
Letting the developers of Bayonetta have a shot at the Metal Gear IP was an inspired fit as both have a level of absurdity that they can each revel in. One of the early sequences in Rising has Raiden charging down a collapsing clock tower that felt like a brief flashback to Bayonetta‘s own opening level. And it works. Visually the game is not bad thanks to some well designed models that tie in nicely with Metal Gear; Raiden’s character design and the bosses he faces often work well… goofy smiles and all.
The visuals are also be let done by the choice of colour palette in some locations which screams mid-360/PS3 generation with the abundance of greys and browns. It’s currently not Xbox One X enhanced either so detail can be blurry in areas – I hope the PC version fares better.
I REALLY wanted to like this game due to it’s combined heritage but my difficulties in getting into it from the start because of the controls have made it feel more like a grind than an experience to be enjoyed. I’m sure that players who mastered it will beg to differ but (for me) even the Ninja Gaiden games felt like they handled the process of teaching players the mechanics better. In the end it’s hard to tell if sticking with the game will offer a similar reward for the time commitment it’ll require.
Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance is out for PC, Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. Reviewed on Xbox One X via backward compatibility.