I’ve spent a couple extra days mulling over my prejudice and bias positions with Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance to make sure that you actually get a real review. For this opine, I’m going to give you the ugly first, the cool second, and a summary with tips. And I’m going to keep this short, because every minute you spend reading this is a minute you should be playing a game!
The Suck Factor
From the beginning, I was disoriented. Even after working the optional tutorial I wasn’t comfortable with the feel of the controls or the world I was dropped into. It felt like I was playing a highly detailed version of Tekken Force with some Soul Caliber thrown in. The problem? Even though Platinum Games warned us that Revengeance is an action game, I was still counting on key aspects of every Metal Gear game since Solid was introduced. That presumption was highly erroneous.
Too much changed while giving a weak homage to the staples that made the name Metal Gear a legend. For example, all cyborg “blood” is now red instead of white. The first grouping of Gekko I ran into wriggled their “hips” without releasing the lactic acid-like fluid, which actually had me staring in wonder and almost got Raiden killed outright. The camera is your enemy throughout the entire game, jumping around in tight areas and refusing to stay still when you’re tracking someone and hiding. The Codec conversations about technology, world travel, different continents’ food, and posters of hot female Japanese models are all there…but it doesn’t feel right. It sounds like Raiden is recounting previous conversations he’s overhead from Snake, but he still doesn’t seem to have any real battlefield experience.
He’s a great protagonist later in the game, he really is. About halfway through he stops whining about justice and freedom and comes to terms with the world he’s living in. But when you first start out playing you’re going to wonder just what in hell happened to the Raiden from Guns of the Patriots. Sadly, by the end of the game, he never lives up to the Metal Gear “hero” status, something he himself admits.
It’s one lazily written conversation after another with awkward moments that were supposed to be humorous, and includes pointless shout-outs to past games and movies that will rip you right out of the adrenaline-filled ride you were just on. Revengeance has all the Metal Gear oddity that we’re used to, but without any explanation as to why. Want an in-depth look at the Metal Gear world after Snake’s story ended? Don’t expect to find it with Raiden’s journey. Hell, his wife and son are only briefly mentioned towards the end of the game. Wolf was actually the only character that made me feel like I could possibly be in the Gear world.
This isn’t a spoiler, it’s a warning. Monsoon comes from out of nowhere, and when he does…well, God help your controller and your wall. And your coffee table. And your ankle. And your fist. And your neighbors. You have thusly been warned.
And the last of my personal issues with MGR: Revengeance is the bosses and fights! There’s no side roll option or “evade” move, the closest move I decided on to avoid getting my skin handed to me was the slide and that became less fool-proof as the game went. And who has ever heard of a ninja that couldn’t double-jump? I can’t tell you how many times during a fight I tried to disappear over an enemy’s head only to be unceremoniously knocked on my ass. I love this game because of its old school difficulty, but a few of the situations and bosses are outrageous with absolutely no warning based on the areas you just cleared. And the worst part is that there’s no reason to hate or care about the bosses. You see them from afar, you meet them, you kill them. That’s it. And the final battle changes every single rule they forced upon you since the beginning, throwing in random and dangerous QTE sequences. After all my upgrades and training, I felt like an incompetent Rikimaru from Tenchu facing Bison from Street Fighter Alpha. It was even worse than the fight with Monsoon!
The Cool Factor
“Dismemberd-cyborg-says-what? Oh, right…you’re in pieces.”
Visceral. That’s what Raiden’s combat is all about. And you don’t have to feel bad about it—after the first couple hours you become desensitized—because the limbs you’re hacking are cyborg. My fiancé walked in tonight while I was turning a well-armored PMC into gory confetti and her mouth dropped, “Oh my God, Will! Was that really necessary?”. I laughed maniacally and informed her that while it might be extremely disturbing to watch a humanoid crawl after me with only one arm and leg, they had it comin’. And if you’ve ever wanted to be like Wolverine and shred a helicopter to pieces from above, Revengeance is bringing it to you! And be warned—or encouraged—that this game does not shy away from extremely graphic language. I think Revengeance had more expletives than The Boondock Saints and The Departed combined.
There aren’t many chances to stealth kill, but when you get them you feel like the futuristic, ass-kicking ninja you are. You can even stealth kill a Gekko! At first the QTE segments of real-time battle were frustrating for me, but once I got the rhythm and learned when not to attempt one, I mashed the correct sequence and was greeted over and over again with the highly rewarding, “Bullseye!” as Raiden yanked the cybernetic power source—shaped somewhat like a glowing spinal cord—and crushed it in his fist to replenish power.
Even though the weak rock music—inserted at weird moments—distracted me, each and every fight was exhilarating. And the VR Missions will keep you busy for a long time! Revengeance wasn’t the transition into a new era of Metal Gear for me, but it was extremely rewarding once I got the beat. When you kill a boss, you get their weapon. And let me tell you…each and every one is freaking fun. And once you learn what kind of enemies to use each one for, your Zan-Datsu count is going to break through the roof.
While Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance failed on an epic level to live up to the Metal Gear title, it was one hell of a good time. And I do see some replay in my future, even if there isn’t any incentive to after the credits roll. The voice acting was atrocious and inconsistent and the plot was almost nonexistent, but I would not ask for my $65 back if given the chance. If you can put the past behind you and accept that this is precisely the kind of gameplay that Platinum Games said it would be, you’re going to have a blast. Remember, this game feels nothing like what you may be used to. None of the characters you’re used to are there so you’re all alone in this sans-SOP world (though there is one huge character surprise towards the end!).
This game won’t fill the void until The Last of Us comes out this summer, but with Revengeance’s beautifully crisp world and extremely rewarding combat system , you will enjoy the journey. Unfortunately, I have now officially given up on Raiden as a potential hero. During Guns of the Patriots I began to think he could possibly be a heavy-hitter for the new installments. Now…well now I’m starting to consider him the violent and psychotic Jar Jar Binks of the Metal Gear world.
Let me know if you had a different experience! I would love to hear another side to this stimulating game. And remember, tips—with minor potential spoilers—are directly below this classic meme!
—Always, and I mean always, “Ninja Dash”.
—“Parry” is your best friend. Learn it early on or hate your life later.
—Almost every single thing you see can be slashed into hundreds of pieces (including fences and trees), and all of it turns into points you can use to upgrade. See how many different things you can turn into ribbons!
—The third VR Mission “Arrive at the specified waypoint” nets 500 BPs in less than thirteen seconds…if you’re having no fun with the other missions.
—Even though it’s cool to use the Right Stick to slice in “Blade Mode”, just use the Weak Attack and Strong Attack buttons. Using the Left Stick and the Right Stick will not give most people the precision you need to get the body parts Doktor wants.
—Never before has “slash-and-dash” applied to a game more so than this one. Don’t get surrounded, ever!
—Don’t dodge the tanks and trucks that Monsoon throws at you, they’re full of EMP Grenades and Nanopaste.
—Also, stay as far away from Monsoon as possible. I had great success in baiting him while he’s bathed in purple aura and running away while he attacks. Stay out of his smoke bombs! And don’t bother with defending yourself with the left stick option too often…hardly works.
—Focus on upgrading your HF Blade, Health and Energy, and the “L’Etranger”…all the rest is fluff.
William H. Hylton is a full-time geek and lives in Raleigh, North Carolina where he’s surrounded by cats, movies, books, and (of course) games. From the first time he threw a fireball as Mario and...