Thursday, May 22, 2014

Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance DLC Story 01 – Jetstream

Spoiler Warning: Due to the nature of this DLC, there will be unmarked spoilers regarding the events of Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance. You have been warned.

While we wait for the eventual release of Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain, there’s an opportunity to look at more things Metal Gear. In this case, we will be looking at the DLC stories released for Metal Gear Rising: Revengance, more specifically the first one, which revolves around Jetstream Sam. Sam was a very interesting character in the main game, and an important one, as he is the one who drives Raiden to become stronger before taking down all of Desperado Enforcment, LLC. PMC and posthumously assists Raiden during the climactic battle with Senator Armstrong. With this DLC (which I finally got around to playing because I noticed it was free instead of “free in exchange for money” like before), the idea is that we finally learn how Sam became involved with Desperado and becomes one of MGR:R’s greatest antagonists. Unfortunately, there’s not a whole lot to say about that here.

As I explained, the idea is that we see what Samuel Rodrigues was like before he became affiliated with Desperado and what exactly he was doing before his fight with Raiden in the main game. Well, the answer is somewhat of a contrivance. Armstrong and Monsoon are in the main building of Desperado waiting for Sam, or Minuano as Monsoon first calls him, to show up since he is a prime candidate to join their PMC. Sam arrives on his motorcycle and, after a run-in with the cops, enters the sewers and makes his way through the building from the bottom up. And…that’s kind of it. Aside from the Codec calls Sam receives during the mission, that’s all we ever know about that. We don’t really even know that much more about him apart from a confirmation that he is Brazillian (Minuano refers to the cool Brazillian wind, thus continuing the wind theme naming of Desperado members). Sam is characterized as someone who travels all over the world dispensing justice like a vigilante, which actually sets up some parallels with Raiden, strengthened by him having certain tendencies mirroring Raiden during the story. I really wish there was more we could see or learn in this one to two hour adventure, but sadly I’m left hanging and wanting more.

Jetstream Sam has a few parallels with Raiden.

One thing that’s been noted, that I have to agree with here, is that every asset for Sam’s story is recycled from the main game. Levels, setpieces, enemies and bosses are all taken directly from Raiden’s campaign, the only really noticeable difference being the Depserado logo plastered on Metal Gear RAY; the other bosses Sam fights are a more aggressive Bladewolf and a similarly structured Senator Armstrong. They do manage to seamlessly connect the sewer, building and rooftop levels together into an interesting string of environments, but it doesn’t do much to reduce the feeling of déjà vu from playing. If there were one or two original sections thrown in then it would be more forgivable, but as it stands it feels more like playing through parts of Raiden’s story again.

Where Jetstream Sam and Raiden begin to differ a bit is the combat. Sam’s moveset is very similar to his rival’s in a lot of ways, but he does have a couple attacks that stand out. These are his famous quickdraw ability as well as a charge move that is surprisingly effective (Protip: Spam it against Bladewolf and Armstrong). His animations are also similar in some ways, but there are a lot of subtle differences that give the feeling you are actually playing as a different character, such as how Sam draws and retracts his sword or the way he runs. Also notable is that his overall style is like Raiden’s total offense, but Sam is focused a little more on the air and less on flash. Also, instead of having Augment Mode to see more deeply into the environment, Sam has the ability to taunt enemies to temporarily enrage them; taunting increases your score. This change suits his personality, but trying to find certain things was made a little harder as a result. Speaking of which, you can still find a lot of things in the environment, though items like the cardboard box and oil drum feel a little less useful thanks to the more action-oriented approach of Sam’s levels. You also have to find your upgrades manually, so you really have to look around if you want Sam to be strong enough to take down the enemies (Protip: You start with no upgrades every single time you play).

This actually sort of ties into a problem I have with the DLC: you must do everything in one shot. There’s no ability to pick a segment that you want to play, which means that if all you want to do is fight Armstrong, you have to start from the beginning every time. It’s not exactly easy either, since no matter what difficulty you pick, you’ll be faced with a good degree of challenge. Because of this, it’s also annoying to play the VR missions, which surprisingly will allow you to use any items (including Repair Nanopaste) that you’ve collected during normal play. Unfortunately, if you use any items, you don’t get them back, so you have to play at your own risk. However, the VR missions can only be accessed while you play through the entirety of Sam’s campaign, so if you want to try again, you have to suffer through the long grind to get to it and hope that you’re not too weak in the end. It may not be worth the trouble though, since four of the five missions are of the “kill every enemy in the room” variety and the last one is a platformer. While the last one is unique in its presentation, the lengths you have to go through to access it in the first place are just nuts.

Despite the differences, Jetstream Sam is kind of the same.

On the upside, the (recycled) music is great, including a DLC remix of one of the themes from the game. I also liked the voice acting, though Armstrong’s voice and Jetstream Sam’s delivery sounded a little off to me. I know they’re the same people behind the scenes, but still. The only one who didn’t sound off was Monsoon, who has a pretty good presence in the events.

As free DLC, Jetstream has some pretty cool ideas, but squanders them a bit through the mass recycling of scenery and gameplay. There are some small touches that show dramatic bursts of creativity, but, at least on consoles, there isn’t much incentive to keep playing the campaign, not even for the VR missions. There are some missed opportunities, especially in terms of story and the idea of being able to play as Sam during Raiden’s levels, so that bogs it down. In the end though, if you want to get more out of Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance on consoles, this is a good way of doing it, if only to get a glimpse of what playing as Sam would be like.

1 comment: