Review: Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance
Revengence struggles with teaching you how to play, but once you get going, the game is a fun frenzy that doesn't let go until the very last second.
I really hope you’re good at video games. I found out I wasn’t thanks to Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance, and there were times I was playing and I wanted to dropkick my Xbox. However, if you’re a fan of hard-as-balls breakneck action a-la classic Devil May Cry or Bayonetta, do yourself a favor and pick up Revengeance. Just don’t be upset if you are ran through the wringer like I was. I’m warning you now. Let my struggle be a lesson for all those who step up to this game without quick reflexes.
MGR:R stars Raiden. You may remember him as “the guy I hated” from MGS2 or “holy shit that guy I hated from MGS2 is a BEAST NOW” from MGS4. Raiden picks up new adventures after the African nation he gave comfort to through private militarization and government wheeling and dealing is toppled by two cyborg dudes who make hilarious faces. It turns out they’re in their own PMC called Desperado, and they think war (HUH) isn’t good for absolutely nothing.
Raiden fights back by doing what he does best: cutting everything in his path. You swing your sword with light and heavy strikes, and block by pressing the light attack button and pushing the control stick toward your foe at the same time. You must reset the stick and press light for each consecutive hit. I say this here so you learn this, because the game isn’t perfect at teaching you its methods. Sure, you can run through training a couple of times, but if you don’t pay PERFECT attention, the game will become much more difficult than it needs to be.
The game boasts that you can “cut what you will”, and that’s absolutely true. I personally couldn’t cut something I wanted to twice the entire game, environments are destructable to an understandable extent, and just the act of cutting feels fantastic in this game. In combat, normal attacks rack up sweet combos, then the game’s heavily publicized “blade mode” adds delicious frosting to Raiden’s battle cake. After dealing enough damage Raiden can go into slo-mo and do precise cuts to his enemies, chopping them into as many pieces as you like. If you cut them properly, you can rip out electrolyte paks that refill your health and energy bar (which limits your time in blade mode). It adds a unique spin on the standard “HIT BUTTONS QUICK” motif most fast action games share and allows the player time to breathe during heated battles.
Battles can become varied by upgrading yourself. You get points based on battle performance, which can be used to buy health, energy, or weapon upgrades. You can also buy dumb costumes for Raiden, which is mandatory if you enjoy fun. Raiden also picks up bosses’ weapons after beating them, which can be upgraded and unlocks new moves which can also be purchased. Revengeance implores you to replay levels to get better scores and make more moolah so you can buy better gear.
MGR:R has something else hidden up its sleeve: its writing. I’m a Metal Gear fan, so I’m used to convoluted speeches and misplaced preaching. But this game is different. Revengeance has a silly plot, I’ll be the first to admit, but I implore you to use your CODEC frequently. There’s intriguing dialogue between Raiden and his team about very current politics cast over the fantasy of the Metal Gear universe, and there’s very legitimate social commentary within this game, you might just have to dig a little to get to it. There are also some good chuckles to be had here and there, so even though the game takes itself seriously (for good measure, as the game touches upon the very real problems of war as an economy and child soldiers) there’s still time for laughs in non-awkward places. Voice acting is, as always, top notch, and the music fits the intensity of Raiden’s character in a believable way. This is one of those “I’m gonna look up clips on Youtube of CODEC calls and download the soundtrack after this” games.
A problem I had with MGR:R was its pacing. Some levels felt like complete experiences, while two of the eight were extremely short, where even combined they wouldn’t have been as long as the others. The game is short, but not painfully so. Those two levels (5 and 6 if you’re playing at home) just felt off keter and unsatisfying. They could’ve been one level, easily.
But that’s a small complaint. A length problem and difficult to master controls are slight detriments, but Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance is a solid package. With plenty of replay value, VR missions, and hopefully some DLC in the future, I recommend this game wholeheartedly, to Metal Gear fans and hardcore adrenaline junkies alike. Don’t come knockin’ on Raiden’s door if you’re looking for a walk in the park, but if you’re ready for real Lightning Bolt Action, then you’re in for a helluva ride.
(360 version was reviewed. I’m hearing the PS3 version has better frame rates and cutscene quality but the 360 version has no bugs or big visual issues.)