Platform(s): Xbox 360, Playstation 3
Developer: Platinum Games
Platform Played On: Playstation 3
When there is a video game franchise as big as Metal Gear, it is understandable for die-hard fans to worry when the franchises’ core gameplay pulls a 180.
While my feelings did not escalate to a hell-fire-and-brimstone rage, I certainly worried when I first saw Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance (back when it was known as Metal Gear Solid: Rising). I loved series veteran Raiden by the time Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots’ (MGS4) story concluded, but when I saw this spin-off title transformed into a hack-and-slash rather than stealth, it left a sour taste in my hopes for the game.
After waiting roughly four years for the game’s release, I can eagerly say Revengeance is quite entertaining.
Picking up four years after the events of MGS4, we begin Revengeance with the cybernetic badass Raiden protecting a political figure when they are suddenly attacked by a military group known as Desperado Enforcement LLC, a group of mercenaries trying to spawn wars during a peaceful time. After he is mortally wounded by one of the stronger soldiers of Desperado and the prime minister is killed, Raiden makes a full recovery and upgrades, transforming into a more advance cyborg. Using his newfound cyborg abilities, Raiden travels to various locations around the world to fight the tyranny of Desperado.
One of the upgrades Raiden receives with his shiny new body is the ability to cut virtually every object into any amount of pieces, or Zandatsu. Nearly everything (including cyborgs) can be cut in any way, shape or form. This form of physics seen in a video game is an absolute marvel, as it has never been seen before to this caliber. The game even has a number displayed to show how many pieces you have sliced an object into.
Zandatsu is best displayed while in Blade Mode, which slows down time and lets the player slice objects in any direction using the right stick. This is primarily used to get health from enemies where you must cut their bodies in a specific section in order to gain their energy. I got this strangely satisfying feeling when Raiden grabbed the energy from an enemy’s innards and crushed it in his bare hands.
Raiden has two main attacks: light and strong. As the names imply, light attacks let you swipe faster while strong attacks are not as fast in exchange for more damage. In order to deal major harm to your cybernetic foes, it is imperative to alternate your light and strong attacks. Consistently performing strong or light attacks will simply not cut it (see what I did there?).
The game does not have complicated Street-Fighter-like combos though. If you push the light or heavy attack buttons while pushing the left stick in a random direction, you will likely pull off an awesome move, but do not think you can get through the game this way. Learning the combos is still vital when it comes to challenging portions, and trust me, there are a lot of those.
In order to parry attacks, you have to press the light attack button and the left stick in the same direction an enemy is attacking from. While it is a bit difficult to grasp at first, the parry system easily becomes one of the most satisfying aspects of the game once you master it. I felt empowered each time I thwarted a cyborg’s attempts to harm me by parrying.
However, parrying does not work on certain moves from enemies where the only option turns into a brief retreat. With no sort of dodging mechanic, it became a nuisance at times, especially when one of the tougher cybernetic enemies has an un-blockable grabbing move.
If you find yourself sucking at the game like I did at first, you are granted access to VR Missions, which are essentially extra challenges where you must complete the specified conditions. VR Missions are gathered via laptops (or enemy intel) scattered throughout the campaign.
These challenges range from eliminating enemies to reaching a certain point with haste or honing your stealth skills. Each challenge has a first, second and third ranking. Earning first place on all of the missions will certainly whet the appetite for completionists, as the upper half of the challenges will push player’s skills to their limits and patience.
Upon the completion of various fights in the story, you earn a ranking based on how long it took you to eradicate your foes, how many times you activated Zandatsu, the length of combos, how much damage you took and the number of enemies you killed. With VR Missions, the ranks focus on how fast you complete the challenges.
After fights and VR missions, players earn BP to purchase upgrades for weapons, health, new moves and more. To earn more BP, it is relevant to earn higher ranks in battles and climbing the local leaderboards ladder on the VR Missions.
There are stealth segments sprinkled throughout the game in Metal Gear fashion where you can choose to quietly take out enemies or simply fight through them. Given the fast-paced nature of the game, I could not for the life of me get through a section without being detected. While I did become a bit frustrated because getting caught means forfeiting a BP bonus, it was never a complete burden since the combat is extremely entertaining.
Alongside your primary blade, you have optional unique weapons – which are acquired after boss fights – and a variety of subweapons useful for taking down different types of enemies. Using unique weapons alters the gameplay quite a bit, as Raiden’s strong blade attack is replaced with the preferred unique weapon.
The auto lock is a mixture of useful and aggravating. While I certainly liked it when it worked, it decides to switch to different enemies if I momentarily attack one the auto lock was not eying, which happened more often than not.
Action games are typically known to have wonky cameras, but it works surprisingly well most of the time in Revengeance. The only occurrences it went bonkers was when I got close corners.
There are quick-time events sprinkled throughout the campaign. They do not occur too often, but when they do, they make for some of the coolest action sequences in the game. It felt like I was watching an insanely action-packed anime.
As someone who does not normally play action or hack-and-slash games similar to Revengeance, a small part of me was not expecting a fun factor at the genesis of my review. Gameplay is and will always be the most important factor for me in any game. With that said, I usually find games under the action genre too repetitive to quench my tastes. However, Revengeance makes for a fine exception. The gameplay was thoroughly entertaining with its fast pace combat and over-the-top battles.
Although the game is a blast to play, the story was over by the time I finished blinking. According to the game’s clock (it only counts the time you actually played the game), I was shy by a few minutes of taking 4.5 hours to complete the story, which is an absolute shame for a $60 game.
There are various collectibles scattered through the levels. This includes collecting data storage chips and cutting off the left arms of specific enemies for research. Collecting each of these grant you access to purchasing new items in the customization menu, but it barely expands the replay since you will often have to roam through the same areas due to the campaign’s short length.
If you wish to play the story through a different difficulty, you will have to start from scratch. You cannot play through Normal, then replay Chapter 4 on Hard and vice versa. Rather than adding replay value to the overall package, this makes the game unnecessarily repetitive while simultaneously losing the drive of the game’s combat.
Fans who fear Revengeance does not contain the DNA of the series’ predecessors may put their worries on a permanent nap. Despite the game taking a left turn down action avenue, it gives off a Metal Gear vibe using sounds from previous games, familiar enemies, classic Kojima humor involving sexy Japanese ladies and using cardboard boxes to hide from enemies. There is even an achievement/trophy in the game where you have to find all of the cybernetic soldiers hidden in cardboard boxes throughout the levels.
Even though it feels like a Metal Gear game, the story is by far the dullest in the Metal Gear series, it is engaging compared to the average action game. The strongest points of the narrative often question if Raiden’s ideals and methods of conducting justice are going down the right path, which makes for one particularly emotional sequence during the story.
For those just looking for a hack-and-slash game, the story does not “require” you to play past entries in the series, but it is certainly beneficial to do so, especially MGS4 and Metal Gear Solid 2: Songs of Liberty if you have some spare time.
For a game using one of the best physics engines I have ever seen while running at 60 frames with a lot of action occurring on the screen often, the game looks great. Oddly enough though, the cutscenes do not retain the same level of visual quality. Something about them seemed watered down compared to the gameplay’s visuals.
The soundtrack accommodates the game well, especially with boss fights. As you progress through boss fights, the music goes along with what is happening at the scene. For example, the instrumental version of the song plays until I cut a boss’ health down to 40 percent. From there, the lyrics of the song kick in to make the fights more compelling, adding a nice touch to the game.
As expected of a Metal Gear game, the voice acting was top drawer exempting Raiden. It was fine for the most part, but from time to time, I think Raiden became a fanboy of The Dark Knight and tried to imitate Christian Bale’s gritty voice to sound more intimidating, but it comes off as silly instead.
I have played many, many games over the years ranging from user friendly to voraciously violent. Revengeance is by far one of the most violent games I have played in recent memory, especially because of Zandatsu. If you have a child with their innocence still intact, do not, I repeat, do not let them play this game. Seriously, I cannot stress this enough.
I feel ecstatic in saying Revengeance is enthralling even though action games are typically not my cup of tea. The level of physics used when Zandatsu activates is unmatched by other games in the industry and it is something other developers should use to its fullest. Although the parry system was difficult to grasp at first, it never once felt like it was dragged on despite all of the times you have to use it.
It is unfortunate the journey is so short though, especially for a full retail game. The length has a weakness within itself in how the game forces you to replay through the story if you wish to play a different difficulty, as it only takes away from the thrills by forcing you to play through the same sections over and over again.
Still, Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance is certainly a fun game hack-and-slash fans and Metal Gear junkies should check out, but not at $60.
+ Combat is a lot of fun
+ The physics engine that lets you cut through anything is unmatched
+ Looks surprisingly great with everything going on in the game
+ Parrying system is amazing once it’s mastered
+ Retains the vibe of a “Metal Gear” game
– Campaign is only 4.5 hours
– Can’t play already completed levels on different difficulty
– Camera loves corners
– Auto lock isn’t consistent
– Cutscenes are oddly watered down compared to gameplay visuals
Robbie Key is a “Reviews and News Editor” for Analog Addiction, Entertainment Editor for the Pine Log newspaper at Stephen F. Austin State University, and blogger for IGN. Follow his completely relevant Twitter updates and watch his awesomtacular YouTube videos.