Metal Gear Rising is getting closer to its PC release, the Special Edition has made its way to disk form in Japan with a similar physical release soon headed for the states, and the two story based DLC expansions have been free for anyone who currently owns the game, so there’s nr better time the now to take a good long look at the cyborg slice and dice simulator.
I’ve been a huge fan of Metal Gear games way back to the old butchered NES release, and I’ve been a fan of Hideo Kojima himself since his work in Snatcher for the Sega CD. While it looks like we are getting closer to the time Snatcher took place, and that the Metal Gear War was ether the destruction of SOP or a quickly coming conflict, my only real disappointment with Metal Gear Rising is that there aren’t any more references to Snatcher like in MGS4 (though there is one very minor Policenauts reference in the codec calls).
One of the few criticisms that fans of the Metal Gear series and professionals alike have given Rising is the lack of stealth action, and thus that it is not a true Metal Gear game. I think that title is undeserved for two reasons. One is that the game goes out of its way to tell you that this is a step in a different direction and not a stealth focused game. Secondly, the game actually has a lot of areas where stealth is an option and on harder difficulties it is the preferred method to getting through areas (even if the game still heavily rewards direct combat). Last, we finally got the cybernetic ninja game we’ve all be asking for since we first saw Grey Fox in MGS1! The only other time we’ve had the ability to directly control the ninja was in the extra VR mission set for the original MGS, and as you can see below the experience has been greatly improved in Rising.
But how does the action oriented gameplay compare to other third person hack and slashes like Devil May Cry? It’s honestly vastly superior in almost every way. The slicing system gives you exacting control over the blade, the physics are fun to play with, and all of the weapons and combos are fun to use and equally as useful. You’ll need to use your whole toolkit on the harder difficulty settings, and everything feels right. There needs to be more done with system, and another game series from within the genre could do with looking at Rising and emulating its ability to make all of the weapons useful and unique as well as the cutting system itself.
The story is top notch too, following Raiden’s journey after the fall of the SOP system and his personal demons as he faces who he truly is in a world dominated by violence. It does a great job in fleshing out the Metal Gear world after the Patriots and its effect on the war economy, and we get to see how technologies first pioneered with the experiments on Grey Fox have come to dominate the battlefield. It features a great cast of characters almost all of whom are brand new to the series and you’ll likely grow very attached to all of them by the time the credits roll.
But that’s what you expect from any Metal Gear game. What you might not expect is that the game is really short, only eight chapters counting the opening. This doesn’t actually hurt the game like you would think, as games hack and slashes like these and DMC are often short but highly replayable. While you could run through its easier settings in three to six hours, you could easily plunk down twenty to forty completing it on every difficulty level and collecting everything if you don’t count how often you’ll get your ass handed to you.
And you will get your ass handed to you. This game is brutally difficult on harder settings, and acquiring an S rank on the hardest difficulties is only for the hardest of the hardcore. To get an S rank you have to acquire 5000 BP or more in a fight sequence, and the best way to get that is to earn the “No Damage” bonus. So that means that to get the Lighting God achievement and requisite in-game title requires you to complete the entire game on the hardest difficulty without getting hit once!
If I had anything negative to say about the game is that it leaves you wanting more. The main game is satisfying, but the DLC that allows you to play as Blade Wolf and Jetstream Sam are both very fun, but they are over far too quickly. I’d love for more DLC to come out allowing you to play through Blade Wolf’s missions with Sam, his side of the story while scouting ahead of Raiden during the main game, and Sam’s time in South America and after joining Desperado. I’d also love to see a prequel to Rising set during the Area 51 mission where Raiden got caught and turned into a cyborg and escaped with Sunny, which was the original plot of the game and referenced quite a bit in MGS4 and Rising proper. Perhaps they could include a bit more stealth options and make it less linear as Raiden gets used to his new capabilities.
In the end if the only thing I can really find fault with the game is that I want more of it, it must have done nearly everything right. The soundtrack is amazing, the story is phenomenal and incredibly topical, the boss battles will stay with you for ages and the gameplay is addictive. Even if you aren’t a Metal Gear fan I would highly recommend this game when it releases for the PC soon, or through the Special Edition. If you are a fan, then you owe it to yourself to pick up the sword and strike while the iron is hot.