It's time for another review, this time for a game that I've gone back to multiple times, which is odd. Usually I'll play a game for a while, maybe beat it, then move on to another one whenever time permits itself, but there's something about this one that kept pulling me back to it.
Metal Gear Rising is a spinoff of the Metal Gear Solid series -- developed as a hack and slash action game by Platinum -- a company I have much love for. It focuses on Raiden, a child soldier you play as in Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty. I'm not going to get too much into the storyline though for obvious reasons, so let's kick this off and dive straight into the mechanics.
I'll say first off that Metal Gear Rising is one of the best action games I've ever played. Everyone has their own definition of best, but what I'm talking about mainly is the fun factor.
This game -- like the other Platinum games (Vanquish, Bayonetta) I've played -- is fast paced. You have to be able to react on your feet to a number of threats. There are times that you will be overwhelmed; you can't just charge everything head on and swing your sword around. This doesn't happen too much in the earlier difficulties, but I'll get more into the difficulty of this game later on. I'm going to hit on a few mechanics here one by one.
Similar to other action games (God of War, Castlevania: Lords of Shadow) when you do enough damage to an enemy, you'll get a button prompt to perform a devastating combo that (usually) sets them up for Zandatsu. This happens with bosses generally when you're switching phases.
Parrying is something you'll be doing quite a bit, especially in the later difficulties. Most attacks you can parry, so it's usually a reliable form of damage mitigation. When you parry a strike at the last second, you parry and then perform a rather devastating Counter that often times stuns the enemy to set them up for a finishing combo (you'll get a button prompt for these) or Zandatsu.
Dodging is generally superior to parrying because not only do you do a light attack during it, but you get a few invincibility frames. In the later difficulties you will be using these to your advantage quite a bit.
This really deserves a section of its own, as it's the unique mechanic of Metal Gear Rising. By pressing either L1 or LT -- depending on your console -- you can enter Blade Mode, the manual slicing mode of Metal Gear Rising. You can pretty much cut most anything with Raiden's sword, but Blade Mode is mainly used for three things: certain boss phases, cutting off the left arm of an officer, and Zandatsu.
Cutting off the left arm of an officer -- the left arm is where their combat data is stored -- is mainly for collectible purposes, so I'm not gonna really expand on it here.
Zandatsu, however, is an invaluable -- and rather awesome -- tool you'll use throughout the game. I've mentioned it a few times now, so you're probably wondering: "What the hell is Zandatsu?"
Zandatsu is when you cut the sweet spot -- usually the center -- of your enemy in Blade Mode, opening up a button prompt in which you take the electrolytes from their body and crush them in your hand, completely refilling your Health and Fuel Cell energy -- used for Blade Mode and Ripper Mode which we'll get into in a minute.
You're not just limited to one enemy per Zandatsu; you can chain them together. If you slice through the sweet spot -- marked by a red box when in Blade Mode -- of more than one enemy without exiting Blade Mode, you can take the electrolytes from multiple enemies at once. This really serves no purpose other than eliminating multiple enemies at once and looking pretty badass while doing so. There's actually an achievement for disemboweling four enemies in a single swing.
Ripper Mode is something you get after a certain storyline event that essentially puts you into Blade Mode when you're actively fighting. Normal strikes can and will disembowel enemies. The only drawbacks are that it constantly drains your Fuel Cell energy, you cannot activate it if your Fuel Cell energy is not full, and you cannot Zandatsu while in Ripper Mode. Ripper Mode does not -- I repeat, does not -- increase either your attack or your defense. It allows you to cut through weaker enemies much quicker. If you're a Metal Gear Solid fan and have played through the other games, you'll be able to figure out what Ripper Mode is from the name itself.
Something that's kind of a side note that I found really cool was that when you cut off certain parts of an enemy, their behavior changes. For example, if you cut off an arm of a Mastiff -- a gorrila-like UG (Unmanned Gear) -- they can't charge at you and grab you, so they swing their other arm at you. If you then cut the other arm off, they do nothing but try and drop kick you again and again. If you cut one of their legs off at that point, they explode and die.
The gameplay really does mold itself to your actions for a rather large number of experiences in that way.
I won't be delving into this too much because of obvious spoilers, but what I will say is that while the story is not amazing, it's not piss poor either.
The storyline of Metal Gear Rising does not deviate from the Metal Gear Solid series at all from what I can tell. Someone more familiar with it can correct me if I'm wrong, but it appears to stick to the established story rather well.
The plot is rife with psychological concepts and warfare along with idealism. There's a lot of inner conflict in the plot, which is something right down my alley. That said, I didn't pick Metal Gear Rising up for its plot, but rather its gameplay which I've already covered.
This game has quite a bit of replay value, if I do say so myself. There's a plethora of things to unlock, such as different swords (these are mostly preorder bonuses, sadly), different costumes and wigs (the latter of which offer either infinite sub-weapons or infinite Fuel Cell energy), not to mention difficulty levels.
Add to that the fact that you can get a different experience (simply because of how adaptive the AI is to your actions) each time, and you've got.. well.. a sizable amount of replay value.
I'll just come right out and say it: I absolutely love the difficulty of this game.
There are five difficulty modes: Easy, Normal, Hard, Very Hard, and Revengeance.
I have not touched Easy. Normal and Hard seemed pretty similar. However, that's where it ends: Very Hard has a rather steep jump in difficulty, but it's how that difficulty presents itself that makes me love it.
Most games I've played just increase the stats on enemies for the higher difficulties. Generally I find stuff like that to be boring. Metal Gear Rising introduces new AI scripts, causing some enemies to do entirely different things, but more than anything how aggressive they are. The first thing I noticed on Hard was how much more aggressive the enemies were in comparison to Normal.
After conquering Hard mode and switching to Very Hard, I was blown away. Not only did their AI scripts change, but they changed the enemy setup as well! In the first level -- before you get your upgrades -- I saw Fenrirs -- enemies from towards the end of the game! The very first encounter kicked my ass multiple times because they threw in two Gekkos -- a miniature Metal Gear -- along with the normal enemies.
I only finished Very Hard mode a few hours ago and will probably attempt to tackle Revengeance mode before too long, but if the first encounter of the game is any indication, it shows no signs of stopping the trend of AI and enemy-changing, which is awesome.
A lot of the difficulty of the game comes from watching for attack cues as well, similar to other action games like Dark Souls and Castlevania: Lords of Shadow. If you see your enemy's eye shine red when they attack, you can counter it. If they glow yellow, you'd better move because it's unblockable.
The sheer necessity for this shows itself in Hard mode and up, especially when you have several enemies with RPGs shooting at you; if you don't pay attention for that laser sight, you're going to die. Even if you do see the laser sight, if you dodge too early or too late, you're gonna get hit. Certain attacks like RPGs you have to dodge at just the right moment or you'll get hit.
I'll take this opportunity to expand on a point I made earlier: you can't just hack and slash your way through the game at higher difficulties, if you try, you're gonna have a bad time. It's not so much that there's too many enemies, but that they're too aggressive. Even three enemies against you can be a rather tall order -- depending on the enemies -- on the higher difficulties.
When I was playing on Very Hard I found myself using stealth far more than I thought I would for that very reason. Often times if you run into a room with three to five enemies on Very Hard or Revengeance, you're going to spend so much time parrying and dodging that you won't be able to do much -- if anything -- else, and even then you won't be able to avoid everything, because each one of those enemies is attacking you constantly.
The Bottom Line
To sum it all up: this is a really great game. If you enjoy action games -- especially fast paced and/or futuristic ones -- you will not be disappointed with Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance.
The difficulty can accommodate all skill levels, from noob to master, and it's one of those games that's simple to learn but difficult to master.
I'm giving this game a 9/10. It's awesome. Go play it.
Edited by Kyrios