I've finally completed Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance, and I had a blast with it. It's far from perfect however, and there are a few areas that could use some improvement. Not everything can be patched in, but I hope Platinum Games and Kojima Productions can keep these things in mind when working on a sequel.
Please God, let there be a sequel.
I'm just going to go right out and say it. The environment in Metal Gear Rising are ugly. Almost all of the levels in the game are dull, grey, and incredible average. There's not a lot of interesting levels, and there's little in the way of variety. Three levels take place in the same city (on a cloudy day, I might add), and the rest take place in dull military bases and steel-walled laboratories. I know this is commonplace for Metal Gear, but this is a spin-off. There's nothing wrong with these locales in and of themselves, but almost every location is forgettable and aesthetically unpleasing.
This becomes insultingly bad when you arrive in Mexico. Instead of exploring the beautiful deserts or dusty streets of Mexico, you ditch your Mariachi outfit on the street, and immediately head into the sewers, and into an underground lab. Talk about wasted potential.
Based on pre-release screenshots, I was really hyped for the traditional Japanese village, complete with falling blossom petals. Unfortunately, this was only a stage, a garden, inside an office building. I'm not saying Platinum pulled a Gearbox with their advertising, but I was a little let down by the absence of an entire Japanese level. Still, it's the coolest looking part of the game by far.
What really bothers me is the lack of variety. Sure, we go to the Colorado badlands, but that's just for one duel. For the next Metal Gear Rising game, I'd love to see a more comprehensive adventure, from dusty deserts to grey cities, show us some stunning landscapes. Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance is a graphical marvel, but all those high definition graphics are wasted on uninspired environments.
Some say you can't judge a game by its length. Perhaps, but there's a difference between a short narrative and a rushed one. For the most part, I feel like this game is the latter. It feels like we're being shown the highlight reel for Raiden's journey. Certain bosses are introduced right before you slaughter them, something that is executed even more poorly than Deus Ex: Human Revolution's boss fights (albeit the boss fights here are a lot more well-done). You meet Mistral (who, coincidentally, looks a lot like the cyborg Yelena Fedorova from Deus Ex: Human Revolution) and Monsoon just seconds before killing them. It's hard to get hyped about killing somone I just met, dammit.
This problem is apparent with Sam, who we don't get to know very well. He's very mysterious, and that's part of character-I get that-but all he ever does is spew vague spiels about philosophy a few times before he gets brushed aside in a somewhat anticlimactic duel. I'm fine with his mysterious persona, I just wish he had more screen time. He felt like he was more important than he actually was, if that makes sense.
The worst case of important characters has to be the main underlying antagonist, Steven Armstrong. Despite being a central character, we only see a glimpse of him during the second chapter, and he only really becomes a part of the story in the very last chapter. It's hard to say who the main villain is, really, since all the bad guys get so little screen time.
Which is of course, because this game is so criminally short. There are only 8 chapters, and one of them is a short duel. Sure, you can replay those cases, but you're replaying the same content. More isn't always better, but it usually is. Variety is especially important in a game such as this, I think. No matter how deep and entertaining the gameplay is, there's only so much you can replay before you get tired of seeing the same old dull environment and high octane set pieces.
This alone is why I have trouble recommending this game to friends. Yes, it's great, and there's nothing wrong with a short game. Hell, Journey was one of the greatest games released all last year. Of course, Journey costs about $15, whereas Metal Gear Rising is a whopping $60. For that kind of price, I need a game that lasts. I need more bang for my buck.
One other thing that bothered me was Raiden's family life, or rather, the lack thereof.
This really irked me. Rosemary was such a huge part of Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty, and she even helped Solid Snake in Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots She even provided support in both games (well technically, she didn't in the former, but let's not get into that). I'm not saying there's anything wrong with Courtney, but why couldn't Rosemary be part of Raiden's support team? Is Codec reception bad in New Zealand? Why so little mention of Rose and Little John?
It's just odd that such an important person in Jack's life is completely absent from the game. I don't even remember if John Jr. gets a mention, which is odd when you consider the plot. Rosemary and their child could have been a huge motivator for him, and instead they got brushed to the side. I hope we see more of them in the next game.
Cut What You Will
One last thing that bothered me. This game made a lofty promise: "Cut what you will". For the most part, the game delivers in this aspect. You can chop enemies into hamburger, and parts of the level geometry can be cut into hundreds of pieces. I don't want everything to be cut-able, that'd be too much. Still, as a played, I kept asking myself "why can't I bring this down", "why can't I cut this railing, or this crate", and "why is this so hard to cut?". This isn't an overly prevalent problem, but it just kills me every time I can't cut something not essential to completing the mission. A little diligence can go a long way in level design.
My last real gripe is that sometimes, cutting wasn't as fluid as I hoped it would be. I can't slide through certain objects, and when sprinting, I can't just glide through solid objects as I'm cutting them. Certain barriers take a while to cut through, and that breaks my flow. If this could be fixed in the sequel, I'd be thrilled.
Please God, let there be a sequel.
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