The Metal Gear series (Konami, Kojima Productions) is known and acclaimed on consoles and silently respected on PC, having only twice visited the latter with so-so ports of Metal Gear Solid 1 and 2. Platinum Games is a Japanese studio known for its action-packed games, like MadWorld, Bayonetta, Vanquish and The Wonderful 101, none of which have been released on PC. However, both parties decided that Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance should be on the Windows platform too, following its successful release on consoles in February 2013. Should we welcome Metal Gear back with open arms? Or dump it into a pit with the rest of the screwed-up PC ports?
Rising takes place in 2018, 4 years after MGS 4. The Patriots are destroyed, the War Economy no longer runs the world and private military companies now stick to security contracts. Protagonist Raiden, who you may remember from MGS 2, is employed by one such company, Maverick, doing security for N’mani, a high-ranking politician from Africa. The job goes horribly wrong, the VIP gets killed and Raiden, though fighting valiantly, loses an eye and part of his cyborg body. After he gets a new one, he’s sent to Abkhazia, where Desperado, the PMC responsible for killing N’mani are confirmed to be assisting local rebel groups.
With that intro, MGR sends you to kill the bad guys and uncover their plans. Series veterans are in for a surprise, though: even though Revengeance is part of MGS canon, it’s not a MGS game. And you’ll notice this right from the first moments: in storytelling. Gone are the 30-minute-long cutscenes with tons of dialogue, hints and speculation. In Platinum’s style, you’re given the essentials and set loose upon the enemy. The writing itself is an unexpectedly nice mix of Kojima’s and Platinum’s styles with the now ever-standard over-the-top antagonists, crazy guesses at the future world and in-series references.
The fast-paced approach continues throughout the 6-hour experience. This includes an 8-chapter main campaign and 2 DLC levels, which tell stories of some of the supporting characters. Then you can complete 50 VR missions, which have you performing specific challenges and add another 3-4 hours of gameplay. There’s no multiplayer to speak of, not that it’s necessary. And , as with all Metal Gear games, you can always replay the campaign for collectibles, which unlock bonus equipment and VR missions. Those who dislike challenge modes won’t be happy about the longevity, but the content will sure keep the rest entertained.
The reason is the complete lack of downtime in MGR. You are fully engaged from the moment a level begins and stay engaged — either to get to the next batch of enemies, or to put them all down in style. There is stealth functionality for those who want it. It even comes with its own rewards and inventory, like boxes and drum cans to hide in. But chances are you won’t have much desire to use it. Your radar won’t get jammed if you’re spotted and you are capable of obliterating just about anything the enemies may throw at you.
The combat mechanic is simple and easy to pick up: you have your light and heavy attacks, a few combos, and parrying, which needs to be directed properly in order to work (auto option is also available). No dodging, no unnecessary mumbo-jumbo. Whatever enemies you can’t reach with your sword, you can kill with a subweapon (RPG, SAM, grenade).
For some precise cutting Raiden can enter a bullet-time-like Blade Mode at any time to land a few high-precision hits. More often than not, Blade Mode is preceded by Zandatsu (Jap. – Cut and Take). Triggered by button prompts, it acts as the start of a kill move, which is always finished in Blade Mode with you cutting the enemy into as many tiny little pieces as you can with your control input. Cutting open specific parts of enemies may net you health packs, additional ammo or a boost to your Battle Points, which also feed off your combos and are necessary to buy upgrades in the customization menu.
The tools you’re given, no matter how limited and simplistic they seem at first, work like a charm. After a few minutes of learning them you become a nearly unstoppable killing machine that even the tough bosses can’t slow down. As a side note, boss battles here are some of the best in years. Each requires precise timing and correct use of Zandatsu, along with tactical movement. Higher difficulty levels extend that to small skirmishes, which get increasingly harder and the final boss is something unrealistically difficult. But once you remember that it’s not only Metal Gear, but also made by Platinum, you just accept and enjoy it.
The game is also easy to enjoy thanks to low system requirements. The specs below the review will work nicely for this game on maximum settings at 1080p, and if you’re lower than that, the graphics options even allow you to tweak how many parts stay after a Zandatsu and for how long. Back when it was being made for consoles, Rising’s graphics were dialed down to allow the game to run at 60 FPS. The transition to the more powerful PC didn’t bring any graphical improvements, so expect fewer polygons in models and lower-res textures than you’re used to in early 2014. Rising does look good, it just doesn’t stand out.
MGR’s audio, however, does. Kojima and Platinum managed to hit a middle ground between their styles. The end result is the same weird-sounding dialogue supported by over-the-top (in a good way) acting (Quinton Flynn’s Raiden performance especially) and a stellar soundtrack that mixes rock and electro into something surprisingly appropriate for a game like this. It’s also worth listening separately. And if you want to take a break during a mission, the Codec is still there with hundreds of conversations for you to listen to. Inside jokes and curious speculation included.
Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance is a departure from the traditional MG model. You’re not an infiltrator hiding in a cardboard box. You are a bad-ass cyborg ninja who can cut anyone and everyone into salad and top it off by a few smashed robots. You don’t have to sit, listen, watch and wait. You are encouraged to press on, destroying anything in your path and do it in style. Kojima and Platinum provide you all the tools for that in every department that counts. From storytelling to performance, Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance is one hell of a fast, action-packed and satisfying hack-and-slash. If only it were a little bit longer.
P.S.: Play this with a gamepad. Mouse controls are fine, but Blade Mode is more precise with analog input.
Reviewed on: AMD FX 6300 3.5 GHz, 8 GB Kingston HyperX Blue DDR3, Palit GeForce GTX 660 2GB, Acer S235HLbii 1080p Monitor, Xbox 360 Controller, Windows 8.1
Pick up Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance from Amazon for only $29.99.