MGS: Revengeance, game that nearly never happened

Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance was nearly a game that never was. In Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty, Raiden was a foppish rookie agent that greatly divided the opinions of Metal Gear fans. By Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots, Raiden had transformed into a cyborg ninja who could despatch enemies quickly and with great flourish. Fans of the series now wanted to be him and wanted to know how he became this amazing fighter, so Hideo Kojima decided to develop a game bridging the gap between the two titles. The main concept of the game was being able to cut anything anywhere in the style that Raiden displayed within the MGS4 cutscenes. Unfortunately, that concept was pretty much the only thing the game had going for it. After two years, Metal Gear Solid: Rising was going nowhere and Kojima Productions cut development.

Kojima wasn’t quite ready to give up though. He sent the game to Platinum Games. With Bayonetta and Vanquish under their belts, the company seemed to be the ideal candidates to give the game the flourish that it needed. Now set four years after the events of MGS4, the new setting gave the team the creative freedom that they needed to revive the title. The result is a game that many wouldn’t naturally associate with the Metal Gear franchise. The Zone of the Enders HD Collection included a demo that is the perfect introduction to the spin-off. The demo is just out on XBLA and PSN, so go experience it for yourself.

Cyborgs with Swords

In the four years since MGS 4, cyborg technology has proliferated. Raiden is now a member of a peace-keeping private military company (PMC) called Maverick Security Consulting. When a routine mission to guard the Prime Minister of an African nation goes wrong after the caravan comes under attack from Desperado Enforcement, a rival PMC, Raiden loses his left arm and left eye in the ensuing battle. The PM is killed. A few weeks later, a reconstructed Raiden learns that Desperado is leading a military coup in Abkhazia and the chance for revenge appears. The cyborg ninja heads to Abkhazia’s capital Sukhumi to halt the coup.

After finally arriving on the shores of what appears to be a tropical island fortress, Raiden is told to infiltrate the city. At the top of a nearby flight of steps, he is ambushed by three humanoid cyborgs and players get their first opportunity to fight like a ninja. X unleashes a quick attack whereas Y unleashes a stronger attack. Blows can be parried from any angle too, but this means players must get the timing exactly right and will require a little practice. These moves can all be combined to perform lengthy combos but the most satisfying part is Blade Mode, the free cutting part of the combat.

Pressing LB slows down time and focuses the camera on the nearest enemy. A line appears that represents the geometrical plane of Raiden’s slicing sword. The right joystick controls the angle of the slice while the left joystick controls the direction. Parts of the enemy’s body will be highlighted, showing the parts that contain nano-energy cells to replenish health or extra intel that will help Raiden along his way. Players can choose to cut the enemies strategically or just to cut them sadistically in any direction. Either choice can be equally as satisfying when watching Raiden swing his sword through his enemies. Blade Mode only lasts for a finite amount of time so decisions need to be made quickly, otherwise the time will run out and Raiden will be open to a free attack from the enemy. Against humanoid enemies this isn’t a big issue, but when fighting a larger boss you really don’t want to leave yourself open to attack.

Stealth? What About It

As Raiden continues further into the town, he gets the opportunity to despatch an enemy with a stealth takedown with a press of the B button. These opportunities often don’t present themselves to the player – you have to work for them. Instead, Raiden has a Ninja Dash mode where he runs quicker and can climb to areas that would have previously been out of reach. This is most evident when entering a large open courtyard with a mix of humanoid enemies and larger two-legged robots keeping guard. Opportunities to ambush these guards don’t automatically present themselves and if a stealth takedown goes wrong players will see the all-too-familiar alert screen where players have to either kill the enemy or stay hidden for 99 seconds before the other guards return to their posts.

During bigger battles, the second purpose of Blade Mode becomes more apparent. Many of the surrounding environmental objects can be cut up too. Cutting up enemy cover will force them into the open. Cutting through support columns will collapse walls or ceilings on top of enemies. Cutting through stairs or walkways can stop enemies pursuing Raiden. Players can also vent their anger on innocent oil drums, cars or rubble, although you could always use the excuse that you’re practicing in cases like these.

Nearing the End

The downside is that enemies can also cut through environmental objects. Raiden’s progress is suddenly brought to a halt when a chainsaw rips through the wall of the hallway and brings the entire room crashing down. This is the demo’s boss fight and IF Prototype LQ-84 is quite eager to cut you into many gory pieces. It’s time to put all those techniques into practice if you’re to bring him down. At the end of the encounter, points are awarded based on technique and performance. Mashing X and Y just won’t do if players want that elusive ‘S’ grade. Those grades are where the replayability factor will come in.

Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance is not a typical Metal Gear game. If you’re expecting stealthy sneaking and one-shot kills, you’re in the wrong place. When Platinum Games took over the reins, they added their own style. Players wanting a frenetic hack and slash with complete control over the combat will love this game. Players who long for the old style Metal Gear may want to wait for Ground Zeroes instead.

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I'm an avid gamer across many platforms, and I love to write about them. I'll try most games once, but I draw the line at fighters and racing sims.

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