Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance Review

Raiden was, for the longest time, always a disappointment and an aside from playing as Snake in the Metal Gear games. When players first controlled him and saw his actions in Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty, they were immediately horrified, as thoughts of “What have they done with Snake?!” filtered through their minds. Things only got better from there on however, as Raiden underwent a rapid and impressive transformation from virtually an unsure schoolboy to the badass ninja of Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots. For once, Raiden was actually cool…or at least,a  little bit more so than before. Flash forward several years to the long awaited Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance, and we see the cyborg ninja for the ultra-entertaining, slicing and dicing maniac that he is. Raiden is a beast, and deals out a solid hand of death to virtually anyone he encounters…and that makes for an epic action game, don’t you think?

While Revengeance is certainly a far cry from the world of MGS, and the stealth elements that the series has normally employed, it is a transition roughly without circumstance and with only minor hiccups troubling it. After all, as over-the-top as Revengeance proves to be, remember that MGS has always been as well, and certainly cannot be called conservative in terms of shock value. Taking all of it’s cues from Platinum Games’ other excellent over-the-top action saga (Bayonetta), Revengeance combines the best of Metal Gear with the fast-paced, intense action set pieces of Bayonetta with mostly grand results. Raiden slashes through unending hordes of cyborgs, slices up machines with his razor sharp blade, fights some of the strangest boss battles that I’ve ever seen, and generally looks like a badass while constantly doing the impossible…over and over again. Every aspect of a decent action game title is present in MGR, however, that is all it can be called: a decent action game. For all of it’s Metal Gear pedigree, Revengeance just barely misses the mark of above-standard presentation, and, for all of it’s enjoyment- it falls a tad below par.

The entire game literally revolves around combat, with almost little to no regard for story or overall pacing. This may sound like a major inconvenience, but even a story-lover such as myself can easily get over this once you realize just how brutally interesting the stylish combat sequences are. I guess this is a perfect example of quantitative presentation in terms of what you can do, versus the qualitative presentation of said story. In other words, forget the story and get right to slashing guys in half- it’s much simpler on the mind anyways.

The graphics look great for the better part of the game, with only a few minor mashups here and there, and the framerate stays constant for the entire time as well, which is a relief. Freezing in the middle of combos or lagging would be very, very bad indeed. I may be spoiled by demanding games such as Dark Souls in saying this, but I’d kind of hoped for more of a challenge than what I received with Revengeance’s combat at present. All of Raiden’s moves look excellent and deadly, however, the lack of a true variety in both moves and enemy encounters means you can essentially forget any combos and just go into every fight mashing buttons a la Street Fighter (except in the boss fights). While there are a few different types of awesome special attacks, there is virtually no need to utilize them unless you’re really low on health or suck at the game. You’re pretty safe in most encounters by simply slashing away until an enemy attacks, trying (and probably failing) to block or counter their attack, and then promptly returning to slicing and dicing them once more. The only exception to this rule would probably be the insane boss battles, which are…well, insane.

This brings us to another issue however, which may very well be the most annoying failure of the game, as well as it’s most potently visible Achilles heel: blocking. Once more, a la Street Fighter (4 mainly comes to mind), your method of blocking is hardly explained at all, and also not limited to one single, easy to sue button either. Instead, the poorly executed mechanic is to tilt your control/directional stick towards your attacker and to swipe the attack button again. What usually ends up happening however, is you swipe a blade through the air, completely failing to block any attacks, and open yourself up to forty points of retributive damage. You can’t even be moving while you do this, or you’ll simply attack them instead. Now, you may feel inclined to use your dodge-rolls/attacks instead of blocking, but even they are worse and take longer to execute, meaning you basically have no defense whatsoever even though you mop the floor with people on the offensive. It’s simple to get the hang of blocking after awhile, but the mechanic never improves even with your skill level doing so…

The other major failure of Revengeance is it’s grand arsenal of fun-to-use weapons. You get a few weapons that you can use specially throughout the story, however, there are some extremely annoying gimmicks involved in being able to use said weapons. Since the item selection pause screen only opens when you are on the ground and not in combat, and you cannot switch weapons on-the-go or hotkey them, you cannot pull together combos with the various weapons at your disposal, and are limited to using one at a time. Most weapons and tools cannot be equipped with anything other than the essential sword, which, while good and easy to use, is also a nuisance. Basically, even at full-power, you cannot experiment too far out of the realms of what Platinum and Konami thought up for the weapons and their uses, so there is really no point in using them unless you are forced to in certain circumstances.

Since I’ve mostly touched on the beautiful and exciting, yet heavily flawed combat modes, I’ll also briefly touch on the completely forgettable story as well. Not only is it absurd and completely unheard of, but it makes even less sense than you’d think a MG game could manage. Let’s boil it down to the essentials here, without giving away too terribly much. Virtually no characters except Raiden return from previous Metal Gear games, and the game in fact has virtually nothing to do with Metal Gear lore at all, or previous tales in the series. The game doesn’t answer a single burning question from the previous titles, and opens up more cans than it seals off, especially with it’s terribly forgettable cast of supporting characters. (Although a cyborg cop who looks like Sylvester Stallone appears, which was literally my highlight for those characters throughout the game. Naturally, this was about five minutes in, and he also meets his doom thanks to Raiden’s sword about thirty seconds later. Oh well.) The plot literally answers nothing about Raiden’s choices from the previous titles, or why eh is even doing all this crap again. Basically, as I mentioned earlier, at least you can scrap the crap and get on with hacking arms and legs off of people in slow motion.

This brings us to the so-called ‘Blade Mode’, which is by far the most enjoyable little gimmick that this flawed game has to offer players. It’s a basic little minigame that is easy to get the hang of, and that also only gets sweeter as the enemies get bigger and bigger. Wait until your enemies get covered in static, enter blade mode, and watch the parts fly- literally. You can hack through any materials during this mode, such as chopping cars in half, dicing soldiers, and slicing through robotic legs as well. It’s simple, repetitive, and awesome the entire time. Sure, a little depth would have been nice, but I can’t really complain about what they gave. It is especially epic to use these methods of dismantling your enemies piece by piece upon the bosses, who make you want to do it over and over just for the sheer amount of hatred you will feel towards them after their battles.

I’m not a die-hard Metal Gear fan- although I am a fan of the series, so I wasn’t exactly completely impressed with this title. Despite my misgivings however, I do realize that it is a very fun and energetic game, along the lines of Platinum’s Bayonetta, and I think the partnership between them and Konami turned out a pretty good result. If you were hoping for some closure or answers to questions in the Metal gear universe, you’ll be sorely disappointed, but if you’re looking for a good action title hack n’ slash, then you’re in for a treat. It’s great fun, but could have certainly been a lot better…

Concept: Flesh out Raiden’s story even more in an action-oriented title that is a far cry from the stealth adventure tales of previous Metal Gear games.

Graphics: The framerate virtually never changes during combat or out of it, and the graphical detail is very impressive, though the moves showcased are quite repetitive.

Sound: Raiden’s voice is bipolar, and sounds off in every scene. Everyone else seems to notice yet doesn’t care about anything other than killing him.

Playability: Attacking is easy and responsive, but dodging, blocking, and switching weapons is far from responsive at all. Easily the most annoying part of the game, other than a lack of substantive story.

Entertainment: Combat is brutal and fun, and the blade mode is a welcome facet of the game as well, and worth the extra juice.

Replay Value: Moderate

Overall Score: 8.25

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