McMillan’s Codex #18 By C.T. McMillan
Metal Gear Rising: Revengence
It is a common mistake for games to be realistic, developers often forgetting how much freedom they truly have. That is why there are so many shooters like Call of Duty and other titles with visuals and narratives set in a realm of reality. The fun factor of games is how they pull you in with fantastical settings and gameplay that lets you do things you otherwise cannot. Metal Gear is realistic, except for the addition of giant robots, a female sniper who fights in a bikini, and an acrobat who thinks he is a vampire. The basic trappings of sci-fi mixed with military elements make it an interesting and enjoyable experience. Though its canonical place is debatable, Metal Gear Rising: Revengence (MGR) is still Metal Gear with the fun turned all the way up.
The character action genre is one defined by just that: action. Devil May Cry and Bayonetta are the most prominent examples, where the characters are very good at what they do and love doing it with a sense of style, another defining aspect. In fact, character action has more in common with fighting games, combo-oriented in gameplay that requires consideration to what is going on in order to succeed. Above all, the genre is characterized by pure insanity.
Devil May Cry, the progenitor of character action, featured the main character Dante, who carried a giant sword, and killed demonic jester puppets. He can jump 20 feet and perform a variety of moves at the same time, including one called Million Stab. Dante also uses twin pistols called Ebony and Ivory with infinite ammo that can juggle enemies mid air. My descriptions do not come close to how nuts it really gets and each game to follow in its footsteps has made a consistent effort to up the ante. At the same time, the crazy works in tandem with the gameplay and MGR is a perfect fusion.
The basis of the game’s out-there feel is the character Raiden, a cyborg ninja and Metal Gear’s most fan-reviled protagonist. Taking place after Metal Gear Solid 4, he works for a private military cooperation, and embarks on a quest for revenge after a job goes south. Raiden is an especially adept swordsman, so much so he can cut large objects into many pieces with a single slash. His speed and agility complement his skills with quick dodges and swipes that can dismember anything within the blink of an eye, while accompanied by an appropriately ridiculous Japanese metal soundtrack.
In gameplay, you can do all of that with simple two-buttons combinations. There are about 20 standard moves right from the start and over 30 after buying new combos and acquiring special weapons. The moves would be impossible to perform realistically if Raiden was not a cyborg as he flips and spins with an electrically charged blade. You also have the ability to slow down time and enter Blade Mode, where you can pick your slashes and cut enemies in as many times and ways as the time limit allows. When an enemy is bisected, they expose glowing spinal cords that can be extracted and consumed to recharge Raiden’s Blade Mode meter.
One of the best additions to the standard sword fighting gameplay is the masterful parry system. When a flashing indicator warns you to a coming attack, all you have to do is press the attack button, and Raiden will automatically block, staggering the enemy for you can counter. It puts you right in the middle of combat with a satisfying transition as you hack and slash between fountains blood. At a fast pace the game does not feel disorienting or hard to follow. With the aid of on-screen queues, MGR is easy to keep up with and play at an even trot.
The insane combat and Kurosawa-on-steroids gore would not be without the other elements to enhance the fun factor. Taking a huge helping of madness from its parent series, MGR is as much a Metal Gear game as its own title. The very first boss you fight is a Ray unit and Gekkos pop up in many levels thereafter. Every standard enemy is a cyborg with mechanical implants and military gear and some times winged jetpacks. Boss characters with nature themed names have eccentric personalities that talk about philosophy between trying kill you with their own personalized melee weapons. One of them, whose true allegiance is ambiguous and favored by many fans, is a Brazilian samurai in power armor called Jetstream Sam. And the final boss is a US Senator enhanced with nano-machines that also knows sumo-wrestling techniques.
The story is very heavy with commentary on the nature of being a soldier. All Metal Gear games talk about the idea that regardless of whatever nation or ideology you fight for, you are still killing people. MGR takes that idea and spins it on its head by making a firm stance that we, the players, enjoy the killing and want more. And because the game is so much fun to play, it absolutely proves itself right. It is kind of cheap ploy, yet it is still clever because it speaks to games in general. The reason we play is to escape, to do things we are not allowed to or cannot do in the real world, including murder, transcending MGR’s humble character action trappings.
Metal Gear Rising: Revengence is an interesting offshoot from Metal Gear that is fantastic enough to stand-alone. The way it plays and the utter satisfaction of its fast pace and expertly crafted mechanics warrants purchase. Learning the game is simple and success in playing is a gratifying feeling. Fans and newcomers alike will find much to enjoy.