It doesn't stop there. Other combat mechanics are introduced throughout the game as you encounter - and eventually best - its bizarre array of bosses. Desperado Enforcement presumably went to the same shady mad house recruitment agency that pumped out the bonkers members of FOXHOUND, The Cobra Unit and The BB Corps of previous Metal Gears. Mistral? She's a multi-armed sextress capable of pulling her multiple cyborg limbs off for use as weapons. Monsoon? He's essentially a ready-sliced batch of man meats held together by electrical charges.
After beating a boss you'll get to filch his or her main weapon for yourself. These new attacks replace your heavy katana moves and unlock battlefield-controlling techniques. The Pole Arm (made with real arms) is useful for area-based damage, while the Sai help you move towards your foe quickly. The Pincer Blades, shown off to gruesome effect early on by Desperado's hulking leader Sundowner, are slow to wield but pack devastating power attacks, useful for flipping multiple foes skyward for ample slice-age.
There are plenty of nods to Hideo Kojima's masterworks, including cardboard boxes and bikini girl posters
Alongside all this, Raiden can stay in touch, via codec, with his back up team at security firm Maverick. Aside from big cheese Boris, he has Courtney on save game duties, his general enquiries answered by the ultra-bland Kevin and, eventually, an excuse for moral debates and philosophical nattering via reformed baddie Bladewolf (aka LQ-84i). Don't expect to stop for a chat too often though, as all necessary Codec scenes play out mid-stage, with Raiden slowing down his stride, rather than stopping play altogether. You can expect further nods to Hideo Kojima's masterworks, though, with the inclusion of watermelons, cardboard boxes, bikini girl posters, BRRRING alert tones, exclamation marks, and distracting porn (this time in 3D).
In truth, though, the standout moments in Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance remain the boss fights. Each one plays out across a staggering set-piece chockful of bombast and lunacy, and each one forces you to approach mainstay gameplay in new ways. Raiden is capable of some incredible feats, many of which are triggered by (not too invasive) QTEs. At one point he lobs a Metal Gear Ray about a rapidly-demolishing piazza like it was a cat stuck on a ceiling fan. There's nothing here that can be measured against The End, nor anything as personal as Sniper Wolf, but we defy anyone to reach the conclusion of the final, unbelievable and certifiably insane showdown without walking away impressed, thoroughly entertained... and slightly confused.
But will you want to come back for more? Our game clock measured a full play through at a little over six hours, but that time doesn't include a couple hours of restarts. There are a few incentives to jump back in, but improving your level-clearing rank and unlocking soldier IDs by lopping off henchmens' neural codes (located in their left arms) emphasises - through repetitiveness - just how much the game relies on its impressive and unpredictable boss fights.
So, this is going to be a divisive game. None of its important mechanics are explained that well and, because of that, players weaned on something like Assassin's Creed's well integrated (though, perhaps, too easy) 'press to block' will be ready to lob their discs out of the nearest window inside ten minutes. Revengeance boasts neither the deep combat of Bayonetta, nor the measured nuance of a Metal Gear Solid either.
But for those that manage to break through its barriers and work around its lack of intuitiveness, it's a rampageous feast for the eyes and thumbs - even if it is a slice or two short of perfection.
An ultra-slick, suitably epic entry into the Metal Gear mythology, marred by annoying, fixable problems.
- The boss fights are epic, brilliant, utterly bizarre
- Cutting mechanic never gets old
- Combat system is generally good...
- ... but is so poorly explained
- The lack of a dedicated block button will alienate some players
- Little replay value