The early tech demo, for what was originally called Metal Gear Solid: Rising, showcased an impressive sword cutting mechanic that wowed me. Before that demo, I’ve never witnessed precision sword mechanics implemented in a game. We’ve seen fancy sword play through elaborate combos and random dismemberments before. We had control but we never wielded a sword in an action game like a master swordsman would. We were never able to pick where we were slicing.
Coming up with a great idea is only the beginning. You need to be able to take that idea and nurture it into a full fledge game. Kojima Productions wasn’t able to pull Metal Gear Solid Rising together by themselves so they enlisted the help of action game specialist, Platinum Games. Kojima Productions, known for their cinematic story telling were responsible for the window dressing while Platinum Games was tasked to integrate the new fangled sword tech into an action game. Together they hashed out a full game and called it Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance.
As a fan of Platinum Games’ action titles and the over-the-top Metal Gear storylines, I found it difficult to equally appreciate both. The “Metal Gear” side of the game came through in cutscenes and codec dialog exchanges but I often ignored the opportunities to check in via the codec. I found down shifting from high octane slicing and dicing to listening lectures about the “war economy” jarring.
Elsewhere the Metal Gear influence was very much welcomed. The enemies, the UI motif and audio cues were well integrated. The boss designs and the nonsense they spouted felt like the perfect blend of Platinum Games and Kojima Productions.
It took me a while to get comfortable with the revolutionary precision sword mechanic known as “Blade Mode”. Even the basic “Zandatsu” move where I was asked to slice through center mass of an enemy took me two thirds of the game before I was comfortable with it. Thankfully they didn’t treat it as a glorified quick time event until the end.
I really enjoyed the parry system in Metal Gear Rising. It was easy to pull off and made defense more active. I was never able to consistently parry in games like Street Fighter III but that was not a problem in this game. The tells were obvious and I appreciated that concession. The challenge in this game came through multiple enemies and managing consecutive attacks from them.
If there was one weakness in Metal Gear Rising’s combat system, it was the limited number of weapons. I wasn’t a fan of anything outside of the staff they introduced early on. Given the pedigree of Platinum Games, that was a disappointment. I wanted more toys and more moves to try.
The most disappointing aspect of Metal Gear Rising as a whole was Platinum Games’ insistence with platforming sequences. The moments where I had to navigate through an obstacle course without making a single mistake were not fun. I didn’t like those gravity defying moments in Bayonetta and I didn’t like them in this game. They’re not as bad as punishing quick time heavy sequences but it’s up there.
The stealth aspect of Metal Gear Rising was rudimentary. There were moments of stealth ninja badassery but most of the time I was walking in plain sight of other guards without a single alert. What was the point of making it so easy? If they didn’t reward successful stealth actions, I would have ran in swinging like the crazy cyber ninja Raiden was.
I would love to see a sequel to Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance. Give Platinum Games another chance to refine mechanics and improve the integration of the Metal Gear universe into an action game. When the music and action came together to create the perfect storm of being a bad ass, I couldn’t help but smile. Only ill conceived platforming segments and lacklustre stealth sequences disrupted the game’s momentum. If they trimmed the “fat” and focused on the hack and slash strengths of Platinum Games, it would have made for a better game. Even with those shortcomings, the action is so addictive, I am tempted to ignore those moments just to get back into the fun.
For more information on Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance, visit the official website.