Friday, January 2, 2015






I bought MGR based entirely on the strength of its trailer. I haven't played a Metal Gear game since the NES port of MG1, and I don't consider myself a franchise fan.

MGR takes place in the Metal Gear Solid universe, but focuses less on stealth and more on melee combat. Gameplay is typical of melee in other Platinum games, and bares a strong resemblance to the Clover offering God Hand. In other words there are combos, different weapons, counters, and a volume of move complexity verging on full-on fighting game play. Protagonist Raiden can also enter a sort of bullet time to make targeted chops at enemies; well placed cuts in this mode sever limbs and may unlock additional lore/items/experience. There are also grenades and missile launchers, ostensibly for fighting larger mechanical enemies, but these are so inferior to your sword that at any difficulty above Easy it's not worth bothering. Combat in MGR is meaty and satisfying, and genuinely operatic in places (in your first boss fight you vivisect a building-sized Metal Gear after a battle that spans a street, two rooftops, and a belltower).

But this IS a Hideo Kojima game, meaning that it's not just action but talking as well. MGR is by no means a long game, but it boasts an immense script, and characters will gladly suspend their breakneck battles to have lengthy conversations about the nature of war and the role of information in society. It's all in service to the plot, and fairly well written, but many players will rightly feel that the flow of the game is interrupted by these side-trips into political philosophy. From what I understand, Metal Gear fans will be right at home. By contrast the story itself is ludicrously over-the-top, with a climax that you owe it to yourself not to spoil online. Characters walk the fine line between serious-but-funny and genuinely zany, except for the enemy bosses who are almost universally lunatic goofballs (again, something I believe is Kojima-standard). I'm also told that in the MGS series Raiden comes across as kind of a milqtoast, but here he's more like Tom Clancy's Jack Ryan put into a blender with the Terminator.

The game also incorporates fantastic hi-def cut-scenes (shot in-engine, but using higher resolution character models). These account for a massive 25Gb install size, but they lead into gameplay well, and with short load times the transition from video to video game is quite smooth.

If there is one serious problem in this game, it's that the camera doesn't always do what it needs to. Sometimes it pans up for no discernable reason sometimes, it may track a boss one moment and not at all the next, and when Raiden moves into a corner, it is reluctant to stay aimed out from inside that corner (especially painful during the box-sneaking portions of the game). You will eventually get used to it, but fights with fast enemies (hello, Bladewolf) are far harder than they need to be because of it.

If you buy the PC port of MGR, you will also receive the option to set the following tweaks:

-higher sample anti-aliasing than on console

-Screen resolution up to 1080p (but no higher)

-more cuts to a single target's geometry in blade mode (no impact on gameplay, but looks cooler)

Additionally, the PC version includes the DLC (at least my steam version did).


-Looks good, maintained a great frame rate with all settings on full even on my aging system

-Sweet metal soundtrack

-Good controls; visceral, engaging combat; amazing action setpieces


-Wonky camera

-Pretty short

-Color palates in some levels are a little drab


-You don't need a preexisting knowledge of Metal Gear to enjoy this game's story, although a poli-sci degree might help

-Although this is a PC port, I played it with a 360 controller, I can't imagine using a M/K setup