Release Date: February 19, 2013
Platform(s): PlayStation 3, Xbox 360
Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance has a silly name, but it's much more than just a title. It's a first step in a new direction for a franchise that has never shied away from trying something different. The nearly canceled, Raiden-focused (read: CYBER NINJA-focused) brawler is now in the hands of the best possible developer for this sort of release: PlatinumGames. Who else is crazy excited for over-the-top face-meltery?
What We Know:
Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance is a canonical story set in the Metal Gear universe, but it's not the proper next chapter in the ongoing saga of Snake-related codenames. This action-centric adventure focuses on the cyborg ninja-fied Raiden, fully restored to peak condition after his alarmingly frequent maimings in Metal Gear Solid 4: Sons of the Patriots. The story follows Raiden, a PMC soldier boy, as he takes on a competing PMC that is wrapped up in various terrorist actions. The cutscenes are shorter but the story is just as wacky as you'd expect or hope for from a Metal Gear game.
Raiden is an ideal protagonist for an action-focused take on Konami's franchise. The stated goal with Revengeance was to take all of those crazy over-the-top cyber ninja cutscenes from MGS4 and turn them into a game. Platinum seems to have succeeeded on that count. Combat is very deep, but the marquee feature that has everyone excited is Zan-Datsu. Think of it like bullet-time, except with a ridiculously sharp katana sword. Enemies (and large chunks of the environment) can be sliced into tiny bits. Your ability to slice in slow-mo is governed by an on-screen meter that can be refilled by meting out ninja punishment in real-time.
The Zan-Datsu mechanic is a key component of character progression in this very replay-friendly game. Vivisecting a weakened enemy along a particular axis results in an on-screen button prompt. Time it right and you can rip out your cyborg foe's spine -- all Revengeance enemies are at least partially cybernetic -- and absorb its power, which in game terms translates to currency that can be spent on various upgrades and outfits.
Action might not be the genre that you'd typically lump a Metal Gear game into, but Revengeance wears the categorization well while still retaining the essential thematic elements of Hideo Kojima's series. This is most evident in the wacked-out designs for many of the enemies and bosses, though the near-future-set, PMC-driven story also fits in nicely alongside any of the previous, Snake-driven adventures.
What We Expect:
Great things. Preview time so far suggests there's a bit of a steep learning curve -- not surprising for a Platinum effort -- but the challenge level evens out once the flow of the action really clicks. The deep combat mechanics and wealth of upgrades ought to up the replay value considerably, and Metal Gear fans will no doubt appreciate having the opportunity to step into the role of such a beloved character.
It's okay to call Raiden "beloved" now that the shock of MGS2 has worn off, right?
This also may well be the most mainstream-focused game to ever carry a "Metal Gear" title. Cutscenes that we've seen so far rarely run any longer than a handful of minutes and the reliance on the Metal Gear franchise's complex lore seems to be at a minimum. Revengeance arrives on the same day as Crysis 3, but the mainstream flavor and accessible gameplay suggests that even non-fans will be facing a tough choice if they go the one-or-the-other route.