From moment one, Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance focuses on making one thing clear: this is not a game about being quiet. Silence can be found, though only through the means of a swift blade. The title is unabashed in trying to deliver an over the top, fast paced, slick looking action title. While the game doesn’t service the same formula Metal Gear is famously known for, Revengeance makes short work, in carving out an entertaining formula with a lethal sense of personality.
Taking place four years after MGS4, and the fall of the Patriots, Metal Gear Rising represents a side story of the MG universe, but not without acknowledgement. Raiden has developed his own sense of place since the end of 4, and the dramatic fallout involving the previous game’s climax is apparent through out. Working as a sword for hire, Raiden takes a job as a well meaning body guard for a high ranking political dignitary.
Needless to say, things take a turn, and Raiden is forced into a chaos he knows all too well.
The bulk of the game will have you fighting your way through wave after wave of baddies, mercenaries and cyborg ninja’s of some variety. The endless supply of grunts will keep your blade busy and your slice happy tendencies satiated. While the battles stay engaging through out the title, and mix up how the enemies are thrown at you, I will say the baddie variety is slightly lacking. I suppose the number of ways you can cut, distracts from the few types of enemies you will cut. The combat itself is highly customizable, from a blow by blow basis. Between a variety of sub-weapons, quick combos, aerial juggling, and Raiden’s High Frequency Blade, you’ll have plenty of ways to trim your way to a successful outcome.
The title’s pride and joy, Blade Mode, really steals the show, and represents the claim to fame Revengeance has as a distinguished action experience. Acting as kind of a gateway drug to carnage, Blade Mode will be your mainstay in any encounter. Unlike other action games, where the “Super Bad Ass” mode is a slow to build quick to use turn around, Blade Mode mimics the game’s overall feeling of speed. You don’t need much energy to attain it, and the mode can be quickly recharged by dispatching a foe in a stylish manner.
Considering how dramatically Blade Mode effects the pace of the battles, in providing a sense of clarity and versatility, you won’t ever feel the need to distance yourself from Blade Mode’s proximity. This de facto in Revegeances game design may represent repetition, but lacks the feeling of redundancy. You’ll find yourself reveling, psychotically so, in just how many little pieces you may cut up the inanimate and organic alike, and always look forward to your next opportunity to feed the blade.
The action genre gives way to ridiculous stories and exaggerated plot devices on a regular basis. MGR services a great deal of the same ridiculous, Cyborg Ninjas, Super Villains etc, and does so unapologetically. One place it takes a step back and observes a greater sense of individuality is how sincerely abysmal war economy is. MGR does this through a number of ways, from taking inspiration from modern day events, to dealing with Raiden’s dark past as a child soldier. The game is over the top, surely, but it doesn’t abandon the over bearing tone from the reality it looks to warn against.
While the story arc here is minimalistic, extremely so in compared to regular Metal Gear outings, Revengance makes up for it with characters and charisma. The personalities you’ll meet and greet with, on and off the battle field, all have that classic Kojima polish that makes the dialogue entertaining, if not just a little long winded at times. I feel as if Revengeance is a little more guilty of shallow exchanges than other Metal Gears, but there are plenty of moments of divided philosophy and dark humor that keep the cinematics fresh throughout.
Revengeance performs admirably in the graphics department, showcasing a courage in having explicit visuals, and the ability to slow down time to see them. While the soldiers of MGR will look dime a dozen (much like their Genome Brothers of past titles), the bigger personas and behemoth bosses you’ll encounter, will do an easy job of wowing you on detailed aesthetic.
The environments themselves look a little drab, and feel a little boxy as well. The game fails in doing a better job of masking it’s geographic linearity, and makes a habit of keeping Raiden surprisingly grounded. I thought for sure the game was going to give a ninja brother every chance to jump and run free and far, but the majority of the arena’s are narrow hallways or empty fighting rings, with little to no deviation, and lacking in multiple points of ingress.
I was faced with several moments of implied stealth, though the path and manner seemed awkward or non-existent. I am thankful there are specific areas where stealth is encouraged, the discovery of the cardboard box in game felt as if finding a loved one lost. Other times, the characters would speak of Raiden’s stealth specialties, but in many instances, I was unable to discover if these reminders were rhetorical or not. Often times confused of where the stealth opportunities began, and when they ended.
I won’t take marks off of the game for lacking a more dedicated focus in the art of sneaking; as much as I would never be critical of a snail in his time trial capabilities The game never promised to be one of a passive nature, quite the contrary, the game is thankfully forward about it’s brutality. The repeated use of possible stealth scenarios were some of the only real level design deviations, and one’s I was highly thankful for.
These slight nods, however short and to the point, exists in complimentary nature to Raiden’s quieter past, and in acknowledging Metal Gear’s rich histories.
The camera system is one of the most problematic I’ve dealt with in an action game in sometime. The camera seems to have trouble focusing on the right moments at the right time, and will jitter too and fro with aimless energy. This isn’t a deal breaker, but it can be a fight stopper, and certainly was for me on a few occasions. Similarly, Raiden’s ninja run mode (holding R2), allows you to swiftly traverse, but at a cost. Not only are the context sensitive moments with obstacle interaction awkward, but I’ve lept effortlessly (and unintentionally) to my death several times based on the over responsive nature of the ninja run.
Individually, it would be easy to overlook one or the other. In conjunction, the erroneous ways of either system combines to create some frustrating moments in both sight and movement; something you would never associate with a ninja, let alone a cybernetically enhanced one.
The game has an odd streak of feeling restrained. From lengthier conversations of questionable rhetoric, to the game’s self imposed barriers preventing you from moving forward, the drawn out linearity feels inappropriately slow for such a fast paced game. You can skip codecs calls, and the area restrictions are removed in due time, but for a title that prides itself on being lightning fast, MGR feels like a light rain as opposed to a full on thunder storm on more than one occasion.
Despite some feelings of restraint, the bosses of MGR go all out in creating complete chaos. They represent both Metal Gear’s past of intense personalities, and an action game’s need to make the biggest of baddies stand out as examples of action craftsmanship. Expect some of the most trying battles in these encounters, complete with ridiculous pre-fight banter and cheesy one liner endings. The range of personalities that back these mammoth undertaking, are as engaging in the arena, as they are outside of it, making for some of the most intense fights Revengeance has to offer.
The last boss represents a costly mis-step, not only in maintaining the higher mark of boss standards MGR pulls off, but in creating a satisfying game ending. From top to bottom, the fight is a mess. Not only does the encounter confuse on a conceptual level, but the entire fight itself breaks the mold of interesting boss design of the previously fought foes. Both the creative individuality of the other bosses are left behind for a contrived caricature, and the fight also betrays a coherent sense of difficulty.
A shame too, as the momentum following up to the ending is very exciting, with the second to the last boss providing an appropriate reminder of Metal Gear’s core roots in the awesome. The ending after the fact feels equally anti-climactic, and doesn’t match at all the grand urgency the game successfully creates earlier on.
Revengeance, even by action game standards, feels lacking in length, and more than too short. Had I not been clued into my own progress towards the games final wrap up, I would have thought for sure the bulk of the main story, represented but one of several other missions. Despite blowing through the title quickly, I was very happy to find myself going through on a higher difficulty with rapid abandon, to try out all my cool new moves and weapons I had acquired, quickly rediscovering my love of the blade.
I believe most action games make their ends meat by offering a confident fighting system you’re more than happy to explore through replayability, a quality Revengeance thankfully does not lack. On top of this, the amount of subtle in-jokes and easter eggs I found through my second go around was pleasing, as well as my stints in the extra mode of VR missions. While I do believe most of the extras will likely only service action vets and high score addicts, Revegeance is as much fun to play the second time as it was the first: a true action game staple.
The visuals, vivid. The action, absolute. The enemies, engrossing and a blast to destroy, Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance nails all of the basic tenants of what makes an adequate action game, with only noticeable failings in area’s where many in the genre put forth no effort whatsoever. While occasionally uninspired in design, and held back by feelings of repetition, the games sense of sword play is some of the best out there. While action genre buffs won’t be blown away by innovation, casuals and core players will find plenty of reason to keep on cutting their way through the frenetic fast paced entertainment on offer.
Meat Gear Rising: Revegeance takes a stab at creating something different, and does so with a sharp edge.
A 4 out of 5