A cyborg ninja slices and dices his way across the world in the third-person adventure Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance (Konami and Platinum Games Rated Mature, reviewed for the Xbox 360, $59.99).
This latest sequel to the over decade-old franchise leaves special forces agent Solid Snake and his stealthy moves back at headquarters, now replaced by the brutal hack-and-slash exploits of the spiky blond-haired, metal-jawed security specialist Raiden a.k.a. Jack the Ripper.
This second banana was first introduced in Metal Gear Solid's Sons of Liberty and now steps up as a sword-wielding, samurai dynamo on a one-machine crusade against terrorists kidnapping children and against the war-mongering private weapons contractor Desperado Enterprises.
With abilities that combine frenetic, acrobatic attacks of X-Men's Wolverine, a variety of slick sword maneuvers that only the original Dante from Devil May Cry could pull off and the talent to parry like Errol Flynn on amphetamines, this black-armored superhero shreds through about a 7-hour, revenge-filled campaign.
The action should easily appeal to any mature fantasy anime fan in love with hyper-classics such as "Samurai 7" while watching spectacular moments including splitting a massive robot in half, hopping across a stream of missiles in flight to attack a helicopter, sprinting down the side of a wall dodging explosions and running across a collapsing bridge at hyper-speed.
What won't appeal to the average gamer is the often impossible-to-conquer boss battles.
The skilled warrior Raiden eventually fights brutes like Sam Jetstream and the multi-armed French woman Mistral. They reminded me of rejects from the annual Lords of the Sith Micronauts convention, but these overly dramatic, scarred tough guys and gals encased in armor and filled with cybernetics will exhaust the skills and patience of the average gamer.
Raiden eventually can triumph with a player managing to understand the parrying technique and gain use of more weapons (tactical sai, pole arm and the inspiring pincer blades), the occasional help from grenades, rocket launcher and homing missiles ,and even find companionship with a helpful cyber pooch (with a chainsaw hidden in its back) named Blade Wolf.
However, Blade Mode, is the key gruesome gimmick here and a gratuitous non-stop assault on the senses. It dazzles throughout and is the ability to slow down time and finely carve away at objects and enemies with that indestructible and razor-sharp, high-frequency sword.
An analog stick on the controller positions and targets the dissection with surgical precision, cutting cut across any geometrical angle, of everything from a car chassis to palm tree and any variety of robotic extremity.
The acquired skill gets more outrageous as one's level of competency increases with mid-air skewering and the splitting apart bipedal monster mechs.
It also becomes as disturbing as fascinating to watch, depending on what or who is being cut. The actually game play encourages cutting out pieces of the cyborgs (called Zan-Datsu) in use for healing Raiden or gathering intel.
Despite the plentiful, lightning-fast combat, the preachy, geopolitical plot (a mainstay of most Metal Gear games) tied to brain harvesting (yuck), bogs down the proceedings.
Those unable to stomach the beautiful but sometimes lengthy-cut scene lectures can balance the somber moments with chuckles from occasional chances to hide in an oil drum or under a cardboard box to sneak past the bad guys (an ode to previous games) in some locations, or simply stick with the slashing by taking part in VR Missions.
These two dozen or so unlockable challenges (find them hidden in locations) help Raiden master his skills and gives the player a liberal amount of sword action as he fends off waves of cyborgs.
Overall, a player looking for a fantastical fight will find Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance a finely honed spectacle with some seriously satisfying action. We'll ignore the game's horrible title that only Norm Crosby could fully appreciate.
Parental advice: The ESRB (Entertainment Software Rating Board) after watching Raiden split in half dozens of aggressive cybernetic humans, decided to label this game "M" and that stands for mature — adults 17 years and older need only participate in Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance. This adult Fruit Ninja fantasy empowers and rewards players who dismember opponents with often-bloody results. So don't let your 12–year-old tries to convince you that "Hey, I'm just beating up a bunch of robots, Dad." The game delivers fast-paced, lethal combat through a hero out to stop pure evil.
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