When I bought Zone of the Enders HD Collection, I was in for quite the surprise: it came with a demo of Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance. No, I wasn’t exactly seeking out to play it; in fact, I didn’t even think the game sounded that interesting. This Metal Gear doesn’t focus on everything the namesake is known for, sneaking and tactics. Instead, it tries to emulate the slice-errifc action from all the ninja cutscenes of the MGS games. And honestly, it actually does an okay job at it. When the demo starts up, the player is met by a rather intimidating looking Raiden. His entire lower jaw is completely replaced by a seemingly metal prosthetic and only one glowing cybernetic eye, clearly Raiden has seen some shit recently. Embers drifting around him dramatically, he holds his sword at the ready while orchestral music pulses in the background. The demo prepares you to experience the same theatrics prominent in the franchise.
Opting to play through the tutorial, I was met by a seemingly Bosnian accented man. I kept expecting to hear him ask me out to the strip club to see some big American teetees but was only met with snicker-worthy one liners implanted amongst instructions on how to play the game. Of course, after the preliminary characterizations, the player is introduced to Rising’s staple game mechanic, Blade Mode. In this mode, time drastically slows and Raiden locks in a sort of stasis (yes, he even halts suspended in air) that allows him to only look around and slice whatever is within range.
What makes this so dang awesome is that when the player slices something, the sword cuts exactly where they tell it to. However, its visual representation becomes problematic. I first noticed this when I began slicing trees. Turns out that even though you can precisely cut apart objects, each section is still concretely connected regardless of whether or not a piece of that section is visually disconnected. So for example, when I cut said tree, which happened to be one of the palm variety, even though I had cut one of its leaves in half and a small corner of the tree’s base, the section of the leaf not connected to the tree hung suspended in air, miraculously supported by that small corner of the based I had cut off as well. It can be jarring at times especially during a gory fight where you dismember an opponent yet the floating body part rolls to the ground in sync with whichever section it is connected to.
Blade Mode and even in normal gameplay have another problem: not everything in the world is destructible. This would be okay if it made logical sense such as you can cut a watermelon but can’t cut a 1000 square foot building in half, but instead you might able to cut a double decker bus to shreds but can’t cut paintings hanging suspended from the wall. I don’t play games to cut paintings but this inconsistency weakens the validity of the focal point of the gameplay. Maybe Kojima will say that the paintings are reinforced with anti-cutting alloy? We know you can do it!
So after experimenting
a ton a little with Blade Mode, I quickly completed the tutorial and moved on to the main mission. A wall of text caught me up to speed. Apparently four years after the fall of the Patriots (spoilers?), private military companies and technology run rampant. Raiden decides to join some hippie-loving PMC. During a standard bodyguard job, Raiden gets brutally mauled by some dude named Jetstream Sam. Someone rebuilds him and he opts to go kick some ass. Okay so we got a great set up for an action game. But then here comes Kojima. Strutting his stuff. After a thirty minute cutscene full of forgettable convoluted characters that include every stereotype under the sun, please don’t tell me I have to explain why, you finally get back to game.
Of course I did what every other logical man does, I started cutting shit. And that’s when I realized another issue, nothing has weight. I would cut object at an angle and would have to squint to see the faint line indicating I had. But if I cut it just right, suddenly it would collapse weightlessly as if I had chopped a paper tower in half with my hand. Giving up all care for the system, I decided to go further off the set path and try to explore the town. NOPE. Turns out your Bosnian friend uses
invisible walls nanobots to insist you get back on the main route. Submitting to the game’s limited structure, I began to seek entertainment in little things such as cutting down more trees or killing guys by methodically chopping them to bits. Maybe it’s just me, but suddenly the fan service sets when the Gekko hops in…across rooftops…to try and murder me. And of course Raiden, in turn, slaughters it with dainty elegance.
After a few more pseudo sneaking missions which boils down to remaining out of the enemy’s direct line of sight by obstructing their view with local objects, the player is thrust into a boss battle complete with a action-packed dramatic dialogue driven introduction that establishes the main conflict of the story: what can officially be labeled free-thinking? Man vs Machine. Is Raiden man or machine? SO DEEP MAN. After a more technical battle with a underwhelming looking boss requiring usage of the game’s unique counter system by using an offensive defense, it explodes right after questioning the definition of freedom. Draw curtains.
So I sit here now, wondering how to feel about the game. I can clearly feel the high-end budget caked over its solid gameplay and cutscenes, but can’t help but think that the game might be more of an afterthought due to the questionable physics of its central gameplay and mediocre script writing. If you liked the Michael Bay Transformers movies, this will be a purchase you might want to consider. Otherwise, you might see this game as a petition for Raiden’s character.