Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance Review

Back in 2009, when it went by the name of Metal Gear Solid: Rising, it was seen more as a break for the series mastermind Hideo Kojima from the politically-heavy and emotional roller-coaster that had culminated with Metal Gear Solid 4. Something that Kojima wanted as a relief to break free from the shackles of stealth and clever boss fights the series had become renowned for by dabbling with crazy fast-paced action. Not very confident that his team could carry out such a vision, he looked elsewhere. Around that time, a bunch of insane people from his own country had created a game that had quite simply equated action games with orgasms. Few meetings later, a new partnership was forged between Kojima and PlatinumGames.

Revengeance was born.

Revengeance

Platforms: PlayStation 3, Xbox 360
Release Date:
 February 22, 2013
Genre(s): 
Action, Hack-n-Slasher
Publisher(s): 
Konami
Developer: 
Platinum Games (under supervision of Kojima Productions)

At once a glorious showcase of the wonders of collaboration wherein either team respects the other’s abilities and understands their importance in fulfilling their common vision for the game; Revengeance is also the sign of a developer at the height of their powers. Platinum respects Kojima and the Metal Gear lore and doesn’t question his direction when it comes to story, the cutscenes or their treatment. Likewise, Kojima understands he needs Platinum to make the intense and fast-paced action game he always envisioned Revengeance to be. Together, both Platinum and Kojima make an excellent argument for symbiotic team-work giving rise to something far greater than anything they could have achieved individually on this game.

The chief selling point around which Revengeance was built was its “cut through anything” tagline. This mechanic was marketed to the point that it essentially became a make-or-break element. Thankfully, it works and gloriously so. Resulting in some of the most magnificent slow-motion finishing moves and damage physics you’ll see, the “Blade Mode” is rightfully the central mechanic around which the entire action of Revengeance pivots around . Using both the analog sticks as its adjustment and slashers, it can be freely entered anytime, inside or outside combat only using up Raiden’s fuel cells.

It also leads into another important mechanic of the game called “Zandatsu” that sees Raiden grab the nanopaste from the sliced abdomen of the enemy and use it to heal himself. What Zandatsu does besides acting as a satisfying finishing move is it removes the concept of scouring and backtracking in search of health. Instead, majority of healing happens  via Zandatsu which demands skill and precision to excel, not just plain exploration. This gives Revengeance a much needed focus as players can continue from one battle to another without much distraction.

Slice-n-dice: Raiden's day-time job as a cyborg butcher

Slice-n-dice: Raiden’s day-time job as a cyborg butcher

Revengeance has all the trademark signs of both of its creators in every department. In combat, the action is highly reminiscent of Platinum’s past games with a light and heavy attack variant. What’s different is unlike most action games like Bayonetta and Devil May Cry, there is no dodging mechanic. Instead, Revengeance stays true to its “ninja” swordplay combat by making parrying the prime defensive mechanic which requires precision timing and reflexes. So instead of constantly dodging and rolling away from your attacks, parrying has you staying at one spot anticipating enemy attacks and finding an opening for your attack. This is a key mechanic central to prospering in the game’s numerous challenging fights and while the initial learning curve might seem steep to some, once you grasp the basic idea behind parrying, you learn to appreciate this satisfying albeit slightly unconventional element and the combat grows on you.

Kojima’s contribution to gameplay comes in the form of a secondary stealth elements where you can perform “silent kills” by approaching behind an enemy’s back and plan your movement by viewing the area in the Batman-esque “Augmented Mode”. These are mostly gimmicks offering some brief respite from the frentic action and to attach some semblance of Revengeance’s roots to its mother series. But make no mistake about it because at the end of the day, this is an action game and Revengeance isn’t ashamed to show that.

It gets a little spottier though when it comes to story. The axis of responsibility shifts towards Kojima, who clearly didn’t want to alienate fans of the series by deviating too much from the source material. Storytelling for action games is a reversal of Metal Gear Solid. The game is no longer driven by its story and instead Revengeance merely needs it to give a basic background to ascertain the globe-trotting motives of its characters.

 

The story is wafer-thin and surprisingly underwhelming by series standards

The story is wafer-thin and surprisingly underwhelming by series standards

Taking place four years after the downfall of the Patriots in Metal Gear Solid 4, cyborg ninja extraordinaire Raiden is called to action once again when a group of warmongers by the name of Desperado LLC threaten the peace of the world. For the series reputation and Kojima’s ability, the story is fairly run-of-the-mill with twists that you see coming a mile off. It would be easy to mistake Revengeance’s story for any other Platinum game, if it weren’t for the political and philosophical propaganda in the form of long-speeches that characters often break into. They are constant reminders that this is still a Hideo Kojima game, fortunately or not. Whether it adds much to the overall experience is questionable, as the wafer-thin plot doesn’t do much even if it has the series’ philosophy ingrained in its DNA.

However, when the cutscenes are seen as tools for purely entertainment purposes, Revengeance is much more fun. Platinum’s oddball sense of humor combines with Kojima’s subtly placed sexual innuendo to result in some well-deserved laughs at few places. Even the action on-screen is a delight to watch rendered beautifully in a mix of CGI and in-game graphics. Action games are led by their protagonists and Raiden is a badass character to play as. Cyborg, ninja, badass, tortured maniac with a split personality – it was almost like someone was ticking off the “Coolest Things in a Character” checklist when they envisioned Raiden as the protagonist for this game.

Runs smoothly with crisp visuals but it mainly plays with no major frame-rate issues

Runs smoothly with crisp visuals but it mainly plays with no major frame-rate issues

Running smoothly on crisp visuals, Revengeance looks fairly good even this late into the console generation but what matters is it plays almost with no major frame-rate issues. Platinum have developed a reputation of sorts of providing “smooth action” with emphasis on the word “smooth” ever since Bayonetta and Revengeance continues that tradition . The damage physics require a special mention as they accurately show up every slice you make in the “Blade Mode” helping the mechanic shine singularly.

The voice-acting is a little inconsistent and Raiden is perhaps the best example of it. He switches between hoarse gruff and young teenager’s voice almost in the same conversation. The rest of the characters voicing isn’t that remarkable either. The soundtrack is primarily infused with heavy-metal tracks which provides a solid background to all the badassery and macho action that goes during combat.

For those familiar with Bayonetta, Revengeance’s boss fights are similar in fashion, divided into brief stages of confrontation, mixing up combat and QTEs although here they are neither as epic nor as ambitious as they were back in the Wicked Witch’s tale. Instead here, they are smaller in scale and scope though they do end up serving a good dose of adrenaline to its players. Boss fights in the latter half of the game particularly up the ante with a certain battle in an arid wasteland chalking up as my personal favourite.

Boss fights are fun but are more standard and less ambitious than Platinum's other games

Some of the boss fights can be incredibly fun and challenging by demanding diverse tactics from its player

Revengeance is shorter in comparison to its contemporaries but it isn’t as short as some reviews say. The save-file shows only a recording of your best run, thus not taking into account the time you wasted in failed attempts and the time spent viewing the unsurprisingly long cutscenes. My playthrough clocked at 5 hours although I would say it was closer to 8 hours if the above elements were taken into account.

For fans of Metal Gear Solid and Hideo Kojima that are filled with a mix of prejudice and uncertainty at the sight of an action-based spin-off, Revengeance isn’t an *absolute* must-play for everyone of them. Keep those prejudices aside, come with an open-mind that this is the series and its creators doing something different, only then will they appreciate Revengeance for what it truly is – a fantastic action game in every manner of saying.

As for fans of action games and Platinum, this is the sign of a company at the peak of their confidence. Not only could they take a beloved series and mould it into an ambitious and incredibly fun action-game but they also managed to do it without stepping on any toes. The focus on parrying as the defensive mechanic makes Revengeance  feel like a much-needed refinement of the typical hack-n-slasher formula . The fact they could make “Blade Mode” and Zandatsu work so brilliantly is a credit to their own ability.

MGS fans risk missing out on a great action game if they cannot put their prejudices and uncertainties aside

MGS fans risk missing out on a great action game if they cannot put their prejudices and uncertainties aside

This may be a Metal Gear game supervised by Hideo Kojima – the cardboard boxes, trademark alert sounds and long propaganda speeches on the “-isms” of politics are a reminder of that, but make no mistake about it because in the end Revengeance belongs to Platinum. The action, the humor and their impeccable flair in design are the tell-tale signs for a developer for whom no mountain seems too small to scale at the moment.

WHAT’S ILL

  • Fast and frantic action combat
  • Great implementation of Blade Mode and Parrying
  • Smooth and crisp visuals
  • Solid collaboration — one’s strength complementing the other’s
  • Raiden is a badass protagonist to play as

 

WHAT’S NOT

  • Story is weak by the Metal Gear standards
  • Inability to change difficulty mid-campaign
  • Camera can be a bother on more than a few occasions

RATING

  • Gameplay Progression: 8/10
  • Graphics: 9/10
  • Sound: 7/10
  • Unique Selling Proposition: 9/10
  • illFactor: 8/10

SCORE:   8.2/10

*The game was reviewed on the Xbox 360 platform*

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