'Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance'
DEVELOPER: Platinum Games
SYSTEM: Microsoft Xbox 360 (PS3)
ESRB RATING: Mature
REVIEW RATING: 3.5 stars
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Konami's "Metal Gear Solid" series hooked gamers with a winning combination of sneaky stealth, intense action and high-quality visuals. Action fans loved the ability to play as a samurai-wielding cyborg in part two, and now Raiden stars in his own game. Although "Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance" oozes with style and hyper-intense combat, the game is way too short!
The story begins four years after the events of "Metal Gear Solid 4," and follows Raiden as he seeks revenge(ance) for getting his butt kicked in the opening scene. He immediately gets a major upgrade to his cyber-body and sets about slicing and dicing his way through cyborgs as easily as a Ginsu knife slices through warm This is where the trouble begins. Although the extremely flashy combat makes players feel like a total badass, it quickly grows monotonous. Sure it's cool to take down a towering Metal Gear by slicing off appendages, but why do I have to trod through boring, static environments and destroy dozens of mindless enemies in between the cool battles? Why can't it all be cool instead?
Blade Mode helps to break up the monotonous combat by letting players initiate bouts of slow motion where they're free to cut through enemies to their heart's content. During Blade Mode, players can activate the Zandatsu move that steals energy from enemies so they can initiate Blade Mode again. While this is fun at first, it eventually turns into a disappointing wash, rinse and repeat style of play.
I would have been completely bored if not for the ability to scavenge additional weapons from bosses. Each one offers distinct benefits, like gaining a further reach with the staff, launching enemies into the air with a heavy weapon, and pulling enemies close to you with the Sai.
Take out the familiar franchise elements, and "Metal Gear Solid: Revengeance" pales in comparison to "Bayonetta."
'Sly Cooper: Thieves in Time'
DEVELOPER: Sanzaru Games
SYSTEM: Sony PlayStation 3 (PS Vita)
ESRB RATING: Teen
REVIEW RATING: 3.5 stars
Platformers ruled the gaming roost at the dawn of the century, but now they seem to be more rare than an albino raccoon! Believe it or not, there are some gamers who don't want to riddle enemies with bullets or chop them into pieces for hours on end. Perhaps that's why Sony decided to resurrect their popular cel-shaded platform franchise with "Sly Cooper: Thieves in Time."
Everyone's favorite cuddly yet mischievous raccoon, Sly Cooper, returns with his animal cohorts to pilfer items that don't belong to them. However, this time the gang sneaks through time as they attempt to stop history from being changed. You see, Sly's genealogy book, called the "Thievius Raccoonus," is being rewritten, and only traipsing through exotic locals like feudal Japan and ancient Arabia can return things to normal.
While the game play doesn't stray too far from the standard platforming formula, it still provides plenty of fun and variety. I love the ability to swing up to rooftops and zip across tricky areas with ease almost as much as I love sneaking up on enemies to perform stealth takedowns. It's also fun to pickpocket enemies and search for hidden treasures in each level as Sly and perform humorous belly-flops on enemies as Bently, the chubby hippo.
Platforming games hinge on tight controls, and this game certainly delivers in that aspect. Players who blame missed jumps or falling off rooftops on the controls are simply in denial. I also appreciate how slight blue glimmers of light indicate areas that can be traversed. It's just enough to give a hint to players in need without holding their hand and making it too easy.
Add in gorgeous hand-drawn cut-scenes and equally stunning environments, and "Sly Cooper: Thieves in Time" emerges as the most enjoyable platformer I've played in years!