The Metal Gear franchise went silent a few years back with Metal Gear Solid: Sons of the Patriots, leaving behind a mass of befuddled fans. And as many other game and movie franchises have learned, you can't stay gone forever when your product is marketable.
Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance is a spin-off of a character introduced in Metal Gear Solid 2, although the events take place about four years after the events in this game in Metal Gear Solid 4. We take on the role of Raiden, an agent turned into a cyborg in the last game, as he handles security for the leader of an African nation shortly after it was torn to pieces in a civil war. He botches the mission and loses an eye, an arm, and the life of the African leader. He's soon patched up with new and better hardware and sent to infiltrate another bunch of baddies bent on world domination and human trafficking.
The developers have taken an uncharacteristically fast-paced approach to combat and movement. Gone are the days of stealth and hiding in shadows. Revengeance doesn't seek to sidestep a fight and ramps up the action. Raiden is a cyborg ninja with the skill and technology to take on any foe, no matter how large or fast.
The fighting is almost exclusively melee or hand-to-hand. Lots of swordplay with big finishing moves and combo attacks. Slicing and dicing through nearly anything in your path as you move from one bad guy to another holds a rather grand appeal, with lots of flash and graphic effects. There is a bit of a learning curve with the combat but when it finally clicks you're able to string together massive kills and understand why it works so well.
Learning and implementing the new moves or weapons is what keeps the game from becoming stagnant. Nearly every boss fight (and there are many) feels new and takes all of the moves, weapons, and abilities that you have garnered up until that point in the game.
Although Revengeance was clearly made for high, tense action, it is possible to insert your own bit of stealth into the play. You can sneak up behind foes and finish them off with a single move without alarming the other guards, and use your ninja run to dash past a heavily guarded section of the city.
The action is set to a fast-paced electric-rock soundtrack that fits nicely with ninja work. I like hacking and slashing to a rhythm.
All of the sound effects were crisp and deadly accurate. Fire sounds like fire and tearing flesh sounds like I'd imagine it would sound. Along with the stunning graphics that come with the combat, the game also scores well with characters and model rendering. Everything from the set pieces to the costumes to the human features were on par with some of the best on the market.
The only downside to the game is the length of the campaign. Most will beat the game in a matter of six hours or less. While this doesn't bode well for longevity, the game encourages players to search around their environs for Easter eggs and collectibles, which will increase play time. I'd also recommend starting on the easy level and increasing the difficulty on your next run-through because it is more enjoyable when you play with experience.
Contact Tom Fisher atTfisher@theblade.com.