It’s nice that Namco are bringing venerable console titles to PC at reduced rates, but I can’t help but feel as though if you got the idea they’ll sell, then why not do a proper job and release it alongside the console counterpart? It’s a difficult situation, because although the quality of Ace Combat: Assault Horizon, and now Metal Gear Rising, is a comparatively good port (compared to something like Dark Souls) it could have looked as good as, say, Castlevania Lord of Shadows.
When you port this late into a games life, you have a serious lack of consistency. Certain things look pretty good, but others invariably suffer. It’s still pretty chunky, and the levels still look a little contrived, designed for 720p play, but the game is still as awesome as ever. I guess what I’m saying is this: if you own Rising on the 360, don’t rush out and finally get it for PC.
Raiden may have unwantedly waded his way into Metal Gear Solid 2 much to the dismay of fans of the original, but the end of Substance saw the relatively young and naive child soldier picking up the blade (as clunky as it was back then). Paving the way for his role in Metal Gear Solid 4, Raiden’s back-story was fleshed out further as his ninja skills played a major role in many of the hours of cut-scenes of that game. Now, Kojima and his cronies have tried to re-create that action in a game of his own.
Easily completed in around 4-6 hours, Metal Gear Rising does an honorable job of not wasting your time. It’s clear that too much MGRR would lose its charm, so instead of drawing out the game into a 9-10 hour campaign to play it safe with reviewers, the venerable Platinum Games have crammed in 4 hours of quality action, with awesome upgrades and boss battles. Although I’m convinced the first part of the game is the most expensive and shiny, the majority of MGRR is relatively fresh and new for the entire game.
The games central mechanic, the exciting swordplay, allows Raiden to slice in any direction thanks to the dual analogue combination. Although you can do this at any time, boss-battles and a replenishable bar allow Raiden to slow down time (or at least, the game time slows down) to cut your foes into an infinite number of pieces as they split apart before your eyes. This is something that could have been expanded upon on the PC release, with most of the games objects relatively chunky and not much fun to watch get sliced up. If this is your first rodeo, however, this is gonna be fresh and neat – something you’ve not really seen before, especially if you’re primarily a PC gamer, as we are.
As a spectacle fighter, Platinum Games clearly know what they’re doing. A hallmark of most of their games, the action is fast, frantic, and controlled. Interestingly, various difficulty settings and tweaks allow you to change settings such as enabling or disabling automatic directional parry – so you can still play the game on easy, but with advanced game mechanics if you’d like. That’s always a bonus. There’s nothing hugely unique other than directional sword-play, but it didn’t need to be. This is how spectacle fighters are supposed to be made, and the challenge is intense if you’re that way inclined. Timing, reaction, and knowledge of the combos is very important – not only that, but throughout the games many boss battles, you can unlock new weapons to learn to play with, too.
You can play MGRR as a casual player for the spectacle, or for a hardcore challenging experience if you consider yourself more of a pro. It’s a largely overlooked point that many games in the same genre either offer one or the other. They’re either mechanically compromised for more casual audiences, or they’re hard-core games no two ways about it. Platinum Games let you choose, and that’s cool.
It’s sometimes too easy to forget that this is a game in the Metal Gear franchise, even though literal Metal Gears are thrown at you left right and center. Oddly, I feel as though this lacks nuance, and although there are certain hallmarks that remain such as sound effects, UI elements, and obvious art and plot-points, there are nearly no references to previous games themselves, and, as far as I could find, not a single reference to Solid Snake. I understand the importance of MGRR standing on its own two feet, but for the whole game I was yearning for a little exposition pointing towards some of the other games events and characters. What’s more, the story cheapens the idea of Metal Gears. In a world ravaged by mercenaries and wars, Metal Gears have clearly become cheap and easy to produce – and although that’s largely the whole point of the story, it felt strange when remembering that epic moment in Metal Gear Solid when you walked in and saw that Metal Gear standing still with your own two eyes. Now you’re running around, literally throwing them all over the place. Things have gone a little whacky, and that’s not the only part.
The story is ludicrous, but it’s an anime. Raiden is still such a pissy little guy on a high horse, harping on about justice, though. Although he has all the moves, he doesn’t feel as cool as the janky, cartoony story seems to desire. I felt as thought Raiden was crafted to please the minds of the young Japanese Otaku – but that’s not me. It was pretty cool when Raiden went all Dragonball Z, but the over-emotional ex-child soldier seemed more likable, strangely, when he was inexperienced in Substance - at least his naivety was justified at that point.
The games highest point might be the numerous boss battles, fighting against the inventively dissimilar cyborgs. Most of the fights in MGRR have been designed to give you the action of a cut-scene, but this goes a step further in the boss battles, especially towards the end. You’ll be slicing your way through planes, missiles, and running along a barrage of fire to go all Shadow of the Colossus on the Metal Gear. After every level, you’ll be given the opportunity to buy weapon upgrades, items, and new moves, or swap out your outfit. Your hard attack, Y on the Xbox gamepad, can use an alternative weapon to your main sword, which you can swap out along with two other pick-up weapons which, actually, I didn’t find much use for, including a rocket launcher and Stinger Missle.
MGRR isn’t completely without its references though – I learnt that when slicing through a suspicious box laying in the street, as a guy popped out. “I wonder where he learned that”, Raiden quipped to himself. The game is full of humour, and most of the characters are well written if a little forgettable. Raiden’s doctor friend is no Hal, but it all gives a little flavor to a relatively new world in the Metal Gear franchise. I’d be lying if I didn’t say I got bored of slashing away at enemies over certain points, but Platinum Games have done everything they can to keep the flow. The real-world futuristic setting is partly to blame, where you can’t be as crazy as in a game such as Bayonetta.
Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance is a relatively good PC port, but most of the graphical changes have been made to stop people going “oh god this looks terrible” in 1080p. It doesn’t necessarily look very good, but at leas it’s in 1080p. At £19.99 (or even cheaper when it was released on sale) Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance is an easy recommendation to any fans of spectacle fighters, but don’t buy it for the Metal Gear franchise. This is very much a story separate from that world, aside from, of course, the abundance of actual Metal Gear units.