A few years ago, "Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance" was left for dead. The project certainly held promise with a curious combination of swordplay and stealth, but creator Hideo Kojima and his team ran into problems. The game that was supposed to follow Raiden's transformation from effete rookie to deadly cyberninja landed in the graveyard of canceled games.
Fortunately for fans, Platinum Games took an interest and pushed to resurrect the project. The result is an odd fit. The studio is known for fast-twitch action games while Kojima Productions' efforts are slower-paced and methodical. For this to work, something had to give.
That's how "Revengeance" ended up playing more like "Bayonetta" with a few
Through eight linear chapters, Raiden uncovers Desperado's motives and its links to the World Marshall company. The conspiracy veers toward the ridiculous with its focus on a cybernetic child army, but it still has a heavy dose of didactic Kojima dialogue about the state of war.
With Platinum Games, though, any story takes a back seat to the gameplay. "Revengeance" lives up to its high action standards. Raiden cuts down foes elegantly like a walking
Instead, Raiden has a ninja run move that automatically blocks gunfire but does nothing against melee attacks. Players essentially have to hit and run away from foes. Unfortunately, the camera doesn't make that easy. Players have to constantly fiddle with it to track targets.
The more fascinating addition is the Blade mode. By pressing a button, players can slow time and intricately slice and dice anything from mechs to mercenaries. It would be a fun novelty, but it becomes vital to staying alive during tense battles. Raiden will have to soften mercenaries up and then go to Blade mode to sever limbs and grab cybernetic cores hidden in enemies. That material heals him and powers up his attacks.
It takes a while to learn to cut down enemies. The process can be frustrating, especially during boss fights; once you master it, however, Blade mode is rewarding and one of the best parts of the combat system.
On the other hand, the stealth combat is remedial. Players sneak up on foes and chop them down. If they're caught, the consequences aren't catastrophic. Raiden usually can dispatch opposing squads with alacrity.
But what separates "Revengeance" and Platinum Games from its peers is the over-the-top action. It's the scope and the sequences that pop off the screen. Raiden scales sides of buildings as if he's running on a track. He tosses around giant robots like a baby's plaything. The cybernetic ninja can even hopscotch across missiles and attack his target.
Players never know what will happen next. When the action sequences arrive, jaws drop. There's not many games with this outlandish creativity. But even with the style and polish, "Revengeance" does have some missteps.
Some weapons seem ineffective. Some boss fights can be sadistically frustrating, forcing players to play some levels once or twice to gather health packs and power-ups. And while Platinum Games has trouble telling an engaging, coherent story, the gameplay makes up for it. "Revengeance" may not satisfy the hard-core "Metal Gear" fans, but it's a solid appetizer for those awaiting "Bayonetta 2."
'Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance'
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Platform: Xbox 360,