Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance

A Boy and His Dog

Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance is one of the most sublimely insane things we've ever played.
Author: Sam Bishop
Published: February 20, 2013
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The skill-based action game is a tough nut to crack. On the one hand, you want to make something that's accessible for newcomers, but there needs to be enough depth and repeat play to give the die-hards the chance to become unstoppable angels of death. Thankfully, after his stint on Metal Gear Solid 4, Raiden, the once-whiny baby from Metal Gear Solid 2, got a cyborg upgrade and slices and dices with the best of him. Armed with a blade that can cut through nearly anything (using video game logic, of course) and a flurry of over-the-top moves, he's not far removed from some kind of death-dealing deity.

He's also a ton of fun to control. By now, the story of Metal Gear Rising and it's spellchecker-destroying Revengeance subtitle has been told more than a few times. Originally an in-house project at Kojima Productions, the game was announced, languished in quiet obscurity, and was even more quietly gutted. Thankfully, Raiden's adventure was saved when Platinum Games, maestros of standout action games like Bayonetta and Vanquish stepped in to take over duties, while Kojima Productions continued to handle the overall storyline.

The result is likely better than Konami's own studio could have crafted; Revengeance is nothing short of Platinum Games' best effort to date, and being that they've had plenty of practice with those skill-based action games I mentioned before, the melding of completely over-the-top setpiece moments and tight, ultra-responsive controls elevates Kojima's cyborg ninja to heights beyond even the most ridiculous cutscenes from MGS4 -- and that's saying something.

Interestingly, Platinum opted to omit some of the normal tropes for games this quick. There's no dedicated block button, and no dodge at all; Raiden is wholly committed to pouring on as much damage as possible, which means his light attack doubles as a well-timed block when pressed and held while pushing the left analog stick toward an attacking enemy. It takes a little practice, but the message is clear: Raiden never backs down, and the only time he pauses is to absorb an attack before returning one of his own.

Successfully blocking at the last second opens up enemies for a counter-attack using the game's vaunted Zandatsu mechanic where time slows and you're given the ability to slice along a single plane using either the right analog stick to adjust the angle, or just slice horizontally and vertically with the Square and Triangle Button, respectively. By properly lining up the slice, Raiden will forcibly "liberate" the cache of restorative nanotech inside a soldier -- he literally reaches in and rips out their health, then crushes it to restore his own along with the energy needed to maintain the Zandatsu effect.
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