Thursday Review: Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance (PC!)

Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance is a far cry from most of the Metal Gear games that people know about. While it retains some of the over-the-top elements of Metal Gear, it is happy to add its own assortment of craziness and spectacle to the mix, leaving behind all but the vestiges of stealth.I should probably confess that I haven’t played many Metal Gear games. My experience with the series has, until Revengeance, been limited to Peace Walker on the PSP. As such, I didn’t get all the relationships between the characters, as my knowledge of the universe is lacking. That said, I wasn’t too confused throughout the game, which largely introduces new characters (at least since the majority of the game focuses on the villains), and it doesn’t require much of an introduction to the series.

I also played it on PC, with a keyboard and mouse. Surprisingly, I didn’t have any complaints, other than the mouse handling, which was a little clunky in some places due to the fact that the mouse scaling is intended to mimic an analog stick rather than provide a true mouse environment. My laptop isn’t particularly nice (an old Samsung RF511 with a RAM upgrade), but it handled everything Metal Gear Rising threw at it very well (except for a few seconds of light lag in a sewer segment during a pitched battle) and looked good while doing so-as one should be able to expect from a console port from 360 and PS3.

The spectacle of Metal Gear Rising comes in the form of its complete presentation. The story is passable, though it’s framed as ideological conflict, creating a relatively predictable plot with relatively predictable characters. It’s also over-the-top and crazy, but if that is the sort of thing that you don’t find appealing you probably wouldn’t like MGR:R for other reasons.

The gameplay is excellent, with a well-paced upgrades system and action-packed combat. It’s not particularly complex in terms of the numbers of actions you can take, essentially borrowing the movement of an augmented Assassin’s Creed and combining it with the combat of any number of action beat-em-ups. There’s some Metal Gear Solid throwbacks in there, such as the inventory system and the UI design, but other than the few times when you’ll be sneaking around you won’t really feel them all that much, other than the series’ legendary cardboard box, which comes in handy at a couple points where stealth is prudent. The level design contributes greatly to the feel of the game, with well-placed QTE’s improving the experience and a variety of cool events that keep adrenaline flowing. That said, there are a couple annoying places, and while it’s nice that there’s an AR mode for secret hunting and seeing in the dark it’s a little annoying that it toggles off when Raiden does his ninja running or attacks, requiring the player to flip it back on manually after every fight.

Metal Gear Rising also has solid graphics. While some of the textures on things cut apart in Blade Mode (or using Fox’s Blade, if you buy its special ability) are a little underwhelming, especially on complex objects, the game generally looks consistently polished and is free of any major graphical errors. It has the standard shaders one would expect a game of its caliber to have, and while it looks obviously post-processed it’s still passable.

The music really sets Metal Gear Rising apart. One of the greatest parts of the game is how it has theme songs for each boss that really feel like they fit perfectly; since the game is designed around ideological conflicts, each boss’s theme is literally an anthem reflecting their character. Not so great is the fact that these songs simply play without lyrics in battles throughout the game, meaning that the really great moments of music have already been heard before the battle. Music also cross-fades to match stages in a boss-fight, which feels unnecessary and jarring in most cases. The rest of the sound in the game is passable, but the music really makes the fights feel living and violent.

All-in-all, Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance is a very good game. Having just released on PC at prices that are pretty reasonable, and having a great amount of gameplay packed into its 5-10 hours of storyline makes it pretty remarkable; it may not have great length but almost every moment in the game consists of action-packed high-reward content. It’s a game where philosophy and sociology meet with mindless violence to great effect, and while it’s not for everyone (especially the kiddies), it’s got a lot going for it and it’s worth grabbing.

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