Raiden is working as the head of private security for a Prime Minister in an African country. He’s called to action when team of cyborgs demolish his armed motorcade and kidnap Raiden’s protectee. While attempting to fight back and retrieve the Prime Minister, Raiden becomes seriously wounded by a similar cyborg, Sam, who shares the same sworded style of Raiden. Raiden’s robotic functions have to be restructured to keep him alive. The Prime Minister is dead, and now its personal.
From there the story is structured as well as any of the classic “Metal Gear Solid” games. Styles are borrowed from spaghetti westerns, Japanese chanbara films, and morality-focused science fiction. Eventually, “Rising” questions human nature’s need for war, and the motivations behind warmongering. This is a gripping narrative. It helps if you’re familiar with the “Metal Gear Solid” franchise, as there are many references to “Guns of the Patriots.” “Rising” takes place after the events of the PS3 title.
The gameplay matches the sophistication of its story. Raiden has two attacks: a quick weak and a slower heavy attack. His main weapon is a lightning charged samurai sword that can cut through nearly anything in the game’s environment, and most of the time that means enemies. At any time, Raiden can enter “blade mode,” which slows time and allows Raiden to swing the blade freely. This often means slicing enemies into hundreds of pieces. The violence isn’t completely gratuitous, however. Cutting enemies at the right places exposes their power supplies, which Raiden can absorb to heal himself.
After defeating bosses, Raiden obtains their weapons to be used as his heavy attack. Battles earn battle points, which can be used to increase health or strengthen weapons. The different sub-weapons give the fight system a good balance that suits different fighting styles.
The game’s combat is heavily stylized from the action that occurs in the cinematics to the aesthetics like graphics and sound. It runs at a silky 60 frames per second with only the occasional slowdown when cutting multiple enemies into chowder. The game’s soundtrack ranges from intense orchestral pieces to high-octane rock. The music even shifts tone during boss fights. If Raiden is close to victory, the music is altered to fit the impending triumph over evil.
Yes, “Rising” has a clear emphasis on action, more so than any of the “Metal Gear Solid” games, but there are subtleties that show that this game hasn’t forgotten it’s stealth routes. There are missions throughout that game where enemies can be bypassed by hiding in a box or a barrel and keeping to the shadows. I preferred destroying every enemy in my path, but the option is there for “Metal Gear” purists.
My playthrough clocked in at just under eight hours, but it’s important to note that the game’s clock only includes play time. It doesn’t include cinematics, or repeated attempts. It only clocks in your fastest time. So in reality this is a 10 to 12 hour game. Prepare to die a lot and for that play time not to be counted towards your play timer.
“Rising” is a punishing action title. I know some reviewers who struggled severely even on the “easy” setting. I died 55 times on “normal,” many of which occurred while fighting the final boss. The game never feels unfair, but will force you to manage the battlefield differently. Don’t expect to trade punches with a boss and come out on top. The key is get in and out like a boxer. Raiden’s speed is his greatest ally.
You also unlock VR missions throughout the main playthrough, which adds some replay value. VR missions have mixed goals with different kinds of enemies. Achieving a high score is the main objective.
My 10 to 12 hour playthrough may seem too short for some, but that dozen hours never had a dull moment. The gameplay kept me satisfied and challenged at times, and the story is top-notch. “Rising” is Platinum Games’ new crown jewel and cements them as the kings of the action genre. This is action done bloody right.
9.75 out of 10
Smooth 60 FPS action
Difficult, but satisfying
Occasional framerate issues
|Console||Xbox 360 (reviewed), PS3|
|Rating||M for Mature|