Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance
PS3, Xbox 360
Imagine a teppanyaki grill restaurant where the guy is doing all those clever choppy things with the knives. Now imagine that the guy is a former child soldier turned cyborg and the pieces of meat are baddies charging at you with an assortment of weaponry. Oh, and your knives are about two metres long and powered by some sort of electricity. That, in a nutshell, is Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance.
The ninth in the Metal Gear series and set four years after Metal Gear Solid 4, Revengeance (no, it's not a real word) is a significant step away from the usual Metal Gear antics, largely due to the involvement of the developers Platinum Games, known for incessantly violent actioners. And it shows.
You play the white-haired cyborg ninja Raiden in a quest to take down Desperado, a private military company intent on keeping the world (Africa, specifically) a violent place to help fund its warmongering ways. And from that premise, off we go: the swords come out and you're actively encouraged to slice and dice every enemy who crosses your path.
It is exceptionally frantic, and you'll have to wait until the cut scenes to give your thumbs any rest. Thankfully, the dialogue goes on a bit so you'll have time to tend to your digit-based aches and pains.
Much of the action revolves around blocking and parrying in close quarters with the cool Blade Mode, in which everything slows down and you control your blade's direction via the right thumbstick. Adding to the gruesome aspect of it all, an on-screen log counts the number of "parts" your swordplay has helped create. Charge up Blade Mode with your fuel on max and you enter Zandatsu, which works out the ideal chopping angle and presents the opportunity to defeat him in a single-swipe while - adding insult to injury - refilling your life bar. Then there's the Ninja Dash, in which the ever-nimble Raiden charges over obstacles and deflects incoming bullets with the touch of a button.
As you progress, you can modify the electric blade but, sadly, this doesn't stop repetition from setting in. After a while, many of the levels begin to feel similar. The camera angles, too, can verge on annoying, and you're likely to wonder on several occasions why you aren't looking at the very thing you're supposed to turn into finely chopped sashimi.
Despite these flaws, Revengeance is designed to appeal to both newcomers and returning Metal Gear players, with its distinctive graphics and characters and an intuitive control system. While it might come across as a title from Platinum Games' eye-wincingly bloodthirsty stable, it's certainly dressed up in the right Metal Gear clothes.
And, if you are concerned given the game's switch to ultra face-paced fighting rather than the sneaky style of old, don't worry: the cardboard box makes a solitary return.