The first original Metal Gear title to launch on the Xbox 360 in it’s seven years of market presence arrives this week, and it’s not even part of hugely popular ‘Solid’ series. That may sound dismissive, but this is exactly how many of the franchise’s fans will feel when viewing Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance on their store shelves. But to do so is to miss the point entirely; Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance is a catalyst for exposition, a character building title that makes the most of its two nest assets: its parent franchise and PlatinumGames.
Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance is a combination of PlatinumGames’ action videogame expertise and one of the Metal Gear franchises’ most dynamic characters, and is a truly respectable partnership. Like with all marriages there have been compromises, more noticeably on PlatinumGames’ behalf, but the final presentation is one which is respectful of both source material and genre, and as such is an easy recommendation to fans of either.
One of the most widely discussed aspects of Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance is the Blade Mode. Available upon a pull of the L trigger, Blade Mode is both an asset that can be used to weaken opponents at the end of a combo and a means of breaking the action. The player can enter Blade Mode at any point and determining the position their blade will land is able to cut apart their foes with ease, dismembering weakened opponents or literally shredding those on the brink of death. During boss fights it acts as a pacemaker; a moment at which a mark of progress is offered and a warning that there is likely something even nastier wanting to emerge once this limb falls.
The combat system as a whole is very well balanced, with a basic system that runs through it’s core expanded upon with additional weapons and – around two thirds of the way through the videogame – the Ripper Mode. The new weapons must be purchased and equipped once unlocked, and can greatly affect the layers of strikes that are placed atop your basic combo set. The Ripper Mode is a faster, more aggressive version of Raiden that is limited by way of a meter that recharges slowly with each impact upon an enemy. In Ripper Mode many more difficult foes will fall with only a couple of blows, but this is no invincibility option; Raiden will still take damage if not protecting his hide correctly.
Defence is a core aspect of Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance’s combat system, with parries arguably the most important manoeuvre in your arsenal. The available dodge is limited in its execution and the Ninja Run ability, though wonderful enjoyable for it’s free running, is not the wisest of evasion tactics given its unreliable brakes. Parrying, on the other hand, is reliably effective at stopping near-every enemy attack, and of timed well can give you a very clear opening to return fire.
The campaign features several missions which are each broken down onto sections, and each section is ranked upon completion. These ranks combine to offer your level score, and each level combines to create your game completion score. It’s a simple system which has been seen before, but is used to great effect in Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance to encourage subsequent playthroughs. Not quite so well implemented are the VR Missions however, which typically offer the most irritating aspects of the videogame in bite-sized chunks, and will only really hold the interest of completionists and Achievement hunters.
At the start of 2013 there was talk of a battle for supremacy in the scrolling beat-‘em-up genre, with both DmC: Devil May Cry and Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance launching within weeks of one another. As it turns out, there’s room for both in gamer’s catalogues and genre fans will positively welcome them. Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance has the edge in terms of market penetration simply through not alienating it’s existing fanbase, through it could easily be argued that PlatinumGames’ best work lies elsewhere. As it stands, Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance is just as welcome an aside as the PSP’s underrated Metal Gear Ac!d titles, and in that PlatinumGames has struck gold.