The “Metal Gear” franchise has been synonymous with cinematic stealth action since the original “Metal Gear” was released in 1987. The series has centered on namely two characters, Big Boss and his “son,” Solid Snake, who both serve as covert agents for the U.S. government. In 2001, however, audiences were introduced to a brand new, playable character: Raiden. While he has become a staple of the franchise, his first appearance as the central character in 2001s “Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty” was met with mixed reactions, due to him replacing Solid Snake in the game’s starring role. The newest game in the ever-popular franchise, “Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance,” puts Raiden back in the starring role in a fast, action packed spinoff developed by the creators of “Bayonetta” and “Vanquish.”
Set four years after the events of “Metal Gear Solid 4,” Raiden now works as a member of Maverick Security Consulting, one of many private military companies that have grown out of the downfall of the Sons of the Patriots system that controls the world economy. This has also led to the proliferation of cyborg enhancements to these private military companies who are looking to gain a new edge on the military market. At the beginning, Raiden and Maverick Enterprises are working in an unnamed African country that is recovering from war by training the army and protecting the prime minister. However, an attack by a rival private military company, Desperado Enforcement, results in the death of the prime minister and Raiden being severely injured. With a brand new cyborg body, Raiden heads out on a journey for payback against Desperado Enforcement, only to discover a much more sinister side of the rival company. While this plot is still a little heavy-handed when it comes to dialogue and extended cut scenes, a style typical of creator Hideo Kojima, the plot itself is probably one of the least confusing narratives in the entire “Metal Gear” canon. This is, in part, due to Kojima Productions having a limited role in the development of this game after handing it off to Platinum Games, which can only benefit the game in the long run. Some still may not care for the often over-dramatic cut scenes and dialogue, but it serves its purpose in funneling Raiden to more cyborgs to cut up.
The fast-paced game play that Platinum Games is known for is what really shines throughout. Ditching the slow, deliberate stealth style of the older games for a more fast-paced, ‘hack’n’slash’ style helps establish the game’s identity. It feels as though Raiden is a powerful cyborg that can take on all challengers, including a Metal Gear at the beginning of the game. The game play is fast and fluid, while also forcing players to be mindful of their enemies, as Raiden’s parry is his most important move in the game. The parry can at times be hampered by the game’s camera, which will focus on larger enemies when engaged in combat. This means that regular enemies around you are often missed and can get attacked from any direction in a split second, before a player can realize what has happened.
What will become a player’s favorite move is the blade mode, in which time slows down and gives the player a few seconds to cut up the enemy into a hundred pieces. This ability also allows for the collection of enemy repair nodes; the blue, spine-like device that refills Raiden’s health and blade mode power. Combat also adds to the battle points system that provides a long list of upgrades for health, weapons, moves and more. This provides re-playability to “Rising,” especially since the game can be beaten in four to six hours just on easy and normal difficulty. It is disappointing that the game is so short, especially given the boss fights that occur early in the game that are, at first, unique and may even serve as a way to introduce new enemies the player will face more regularly as the game goes on. The later bosses, unfortunately, do not feel as distinct, with the final boss having more quick-time events than any other boss or section in the game. This is where the short runtime for the game can actually be justified, however, as the game does not overstay its welcome and finishes at a high point.
So while hampered by a sometimes infuriating camera, short runtime and some uninspired boss fights near the end, “Metal Gear Rising” proves that there is more to the long-running series than the stealth escapades of Big Boss and Solid Snake. The final result is still an extremely fun action game that holds plenty of replayability for anyone looking to experience that newest side of the “Metal Gear” franchise.