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Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance Deserves Multiple Playthroughs

When I booted up Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance for the very first time, I couldn't help but feel somewhat underwhelmed. Gone was Kojima's trademark eye for detail, replaced with uninspired environments and shonky stealth mechanics. The high-heeled, peroxide ninja, Raiden, contrasted harshly against the dull and grey backdrops - with his brilliant character design only serving to highlight how bland everything in the background was.

mgr melon

I found myself walking up to a cargo container - that looked less than convincing so I inspected more closely - and panning the camera to see if it was ridged. It wasn't, and the lines where ridges should be were just drawn on, as if by hand with a permanent marker. I didn't pause to think that this crude art could be due to the fact that you can cut everything as you please, so I just strolled off and chopped some people in half feeling a little disappointed. Man, I'm shallow.

After I finished the game, I even had some viable criticisms of the gameplay itself, citing the fact that there wasn't a dedicated dodge, and therefore the only way I could evade attacks that were impossible to parry, was to run away. Raiden shouldn't be forced to run away, I thought. He should be constantly aggressive, like the parry ability suggests - constantly pressing forward. I mean, the guy doesn't even block, he just hits their attack before it hits him.

Then, on my second playthrough, a revelation - Raiden can dodge. It isn't a terrified roll out of the way, or a scurrying of the legs, either. Depending on directional input, it's either a backwards, or sideways step, coupled with a swipe of his katana: constant aggression. And it felt beautiful. It was almost like playing through a first-person shooter without realising that you could throw grenades.

mgr dodge

At first I thought, why would a game purposefully make its systems vague? But the revelation was an absolute game changer, and it felt incredible. I didn't care that such an integral part of combat was hidden behind an unlock screen and a three-button input anymore - my Hard playthrough was going to be so much easier than my Normal run, with my abilities carrying over I would be unstoppable.

I was right, and on Hard I cut through the myriad robots and cyborgs like they were made out of cheese, all the while parrying and using my newfound ability to slip behind them during a big attack. Midway through was when it happened: I slid towards a cluster of rocket launcher wielding enemies and I activated Blade Mode, sliding past on my knees time slowed down. I could cut at will from this position, I thought. I removed their legs in a flurry of blade strikes as I slid past, gracefully.

It wasn't long after this eye-opener until there was another revelation, and then another. And then I mastered Ripper mode - it came like an epiphany - learning to activate it at the most opportune moments and taking down the more difficult enemies with cheetah-like aggression, managing to top up my electrolytes with their cores at the very last moment.

mgr ripper

Very Hard mode was a doddle. As Raiden got more powerful, so did I. I even started to make sense of the stealth mechanics, often bypassing whole, difficult combat sections by timing runs between enemies perfectly, and, through subsequent playthroughs, learning the patrol patterns of them. Well, some of them at least, as Very Hard mode throws even more assailants at Raiden, with copies of the robo-dog you face later on present in the very first mission.

What do you get for finishing the game on Very Hard? I hear you ask. Well, first and foremost, you unlock Revengeance difficulty, which would be like shoving a razor blade up your genitals if not for the extra costume you unlock along with it - granting you the ability to activate Ripper mode at your whim, with the bar permanently charged.

mgr extra costume

I cut my way right through to the final encounter, where I currently reside. I will not be defeated. I will finish it eventually. And when I do, I'm going to switch the difficulty back to Normal, and I'm going to play through it again, with Raiden's fists. Yes, I'm going to try and finish the game without killing anyone. Why? Because the combat system is absolutely sublime, that's why.

If you play through the game once, you'll be left feeling like you were ripped-off, with a short, and seemingly shallow experience. Dig below the surface, though, and you'll find the game cuts deeper than even Raiden's katana. I used to wonder why PlatinumGames got so much praise. Now I know: they, like me, are masters of the blade.

kirkules | 20th May, 2013

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