This article contains some mild spoilers about Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance. You have been warned, geeks!
Wouldn’t you want a talking robot wolf with a chainsaw tail as a pet? And if you did, wouldn’t you want to take him for the occasional spin, just to see what tricks he could pull off? The latest DLC pack for Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance, aptly named after the eponymous cyborg canine, allows you to do just that.
So we actually get to play as Blade Wolf, huh?
This stand-alone add-on puts the player in the very capable claws of LQ-84i, the cyborg wolf housing an exceptional AI with a penchant for violence. The twist is this: You are playing as Blade Wolf while he was still a villain in the storyline, as the events of the DLC take place before he joins Raiden in his crusade against Desperado Enforcement LLC.
This opens up a whole new facet to Blade Wolf’s character; in the original game, he simply showed up during the first chapter with very little explanation as to why he was there.
With this DLC, the player gets a much better idea of Wolf’s motivations and personality, artificially-constructed as it may be. As Raiden’s constant companion for much of the game, Wolf could definitely use this added insight into his character to flesh him out further.
How does it feel like to be in control of a cyborg wolf?
This is still the same fast-paced, precision-based action game that Metal Gear Rising is known to be. Movement-wise, Wolf feels quite a bit heftier than Raiden, who could zip around almost as if he were weightless.
That is not to say that Wolf is clumsy or unwieldy though; far from it, really. Take a few minutes to get accustomed to Wolf’s four-legged gait and you’ll soon find yourself bounding around effortlessly. As to be expected from Platinum Games, the controls are mirror smooth and hyper-responsive, making movement and combat a breeze.
Just like Raiden, Wolf can sneak up on unsuspecting foes and perform some truly satisfying stealth kills with Blade Mode.
Speaking of which, combat continues to be the main focus of the game, and it definitely shows. Obviously Wolf can’t wield weapons in the traditional sense, so expect some significant differences when it comes to engaging the enemy.
Light attacks are now mapped to quick slashes with Wolf’s claws, while heavy attacks are assigned to hard-hitting tail strikes that have some considerable wind-up time. Like in any good action game, these can be strung together in various combinations for some sweet-looking and effective combos. Wolf can also use his tail to toss superheated daggers at enemies as an effective ranged attack. Only a limited number of these projectiles can be carried, but more can be found within the level as item pick-ups.
On top of that, Wolf has access to Blade Mode, the trademark gameplay mechanic of Metal Gear Rising which allows the player to strategically dismember foes in slow-motion, regaining lost health and energy in the process.
Defensively, Wolf possesses the ability to parry incoming attacks with a well-timed button press, or dodge them completely, much like Raiden. Mastery of these evasive techniques should prove extremely helpful to the player as Wolf really can’t take much punishment. In fact, it would be downright necessary on the tougher difficulties such as Revengeance mode.
Stealth elements make a return, though admittedly it was never implemented really well in the original game. It is much the same in this DLC, except that Wolf seems to have an easier time staying out of sight, due to his much lower profile. Just like Raiden, Wolf can sneak up on unsuspecting foes and perform some truly satisfying stealth kills through the use of Blade Mode.
Sounds pretty good so far, what’s not to like?
First of all, this add-on is REALLY short; it pretty much consists of a single chapter which you could easily blow through in under an hour. Repeated playthroughs on harder difficulties will increase replayability, but that sort of thing is generally reserved for the hardcore crowd. While this DLC retails at a lower price point than the previously-released Jetstream Sam DLC, it still feels rather insubstantial.
This add-on is REALLY short; it pretty much consists of a single chapter which you could easily blow through in under an hour.
Additionally, this add-on shamelessly re-uses the first two levels in the original campaign, with some VR Missions interposed throughout to cover transitions.
While re-using game assets and levels are common practice these days, the overall experience feels cheapened somewhat, especially when you take into account that you had to fork out extra cash just to play this. You can’t help but feel that the developers could have put in a little more effort here.
Another disappointment is that for a game with such a heavy emphasis on combat, there are no new enemies to pit yourself against, with the singular exception of the final boss at the end of the chapter.
While he was certainly fun to fight on a technical level, the boss had none of the charm that the Four Winds of Destruction had in the original campaign. The bosses in the original campaign oozed personality in buckets, almost to the point of excess, but that made them memorable and all the more satisfying to finally take down.
Sadly, you won’t find that here, and that feeling of emptiness is only compounded by the fact that the Metal Gear franchise is known for it’s collection of over-the-top villains. This was definitely a missed opportunity.
So is it worth throwing this dog a bone?
If you enjoyed Metal Gear Rising and are hungry for more lightning-fast hack-and-slash gameplay, and like the idea of repeated playthroughs to attain that perfect “S”-ranking, then the answer to that question is undoubtedly “YES”.
On the other hand, if you’re a casual player and expect this DLC to expand upon the game significantly, you’d be much better off buying the Jetstream Sam DLC instead. This add-on is truly for hardcore fans only and you should definitely keep that in mind before you commit to the purchase.
Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance – Blade Wolf was released on 15th May 2013 and is currently available for purchase on Xbox Live Marketplace and the Playstation Store.
This title was reviewed on the Xbox 360 platform.
GEEK REVIEW SCORE
For the one hour or so that it will take to beat this DLC, Blade Wolf is one hell of a ride. Sadly, it is not worth the price of admission, but you could certainly consider getting this if it goes on sale sometime in the near future.