- Editor's Rating
- Fun game mechanics
- Solid story and cinematics
- Solid customization and upgrade system
- Painfully bereft of past Metal Gear characters
- Too short
- Stealth segments feel tacked on
- Occasional performance blips, including camera trouble
Quick TakeAt face value, Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance is an entertaining hack-and-slash game with fun mechanics. However, it's a Metal Gear game in name only.
Context plays an important role when determining whether or not Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance, out now for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3, is a good game. It’s a spin-off, but it’s still canon and takes place in the Metal Gear universe, so one could – and in this reviewer’s opinion, probably should – judge it as a Metal Gear game, at least in some respects. In this sense, it fails.
But on the same token, it’s a spin-off and players can look at this as an excuse for the game to stray a bit from the series’ roots. When judged in this sense, on its own merits, it’s a good game, even if there are still some aspects that are inexcusable.
Taking place four years after the events of Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots, Revengeance follows the story of Raiden, much like the better part of Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty, the game in which he’s first introduced. In one of the few ways that Revengeance resembles a Metal Gear game, the plot is somewhat convoluted and turns into a bit of an after school special on killing and morality by the end, but it’s still creative and enjoyable.
Long story short, Raiden is working for a private military company (PMC) and attempting to stop a terrorist attack by a self-proclaimed PMC called Desperado Enterprises. The attack is intended to kill the president of the United States and start another War on Terror. The twist that makes the story more interesting than just a bunch of lunatics performing an act of wanton violence is that Desperado’s intention is to return the world to state that it was in during MGS 4, where war was an economy. With the underlying motivation of trying to pull the country out of a recession and create jobs and a stable economy, the members of Desperado make for more intriguing villains than stock characters who simply revel in chaos.
Distinct Hack-and-Slash Stylings
Unfortunately Platinum Games, the developer that took over Revengeance in 2011 after it was initially canceled, has a rather distinct style to its games, and it’s one that doesn’t mesh well with the world of Metal Gear. That’s not to say that Platinum makes bad games. In fact, they make some pretty darn good ones, but their style is usually quite cheesy and action movie-like, and it doesn’t work here. To be sure, previous Metal Gear games have had their fair share of cheesiness, but Revengeance is just too over the top and has Platinum written all over it; it might as well be called Metal Gear: Bayonetta.
While previous Metal Gear titles were of the third-person stealth genre with an optional first-person view, Revengeance is a third-person hack and slash. For the most part, the game operates like any other hack and slash (think Devil May Cry or the aforementioned Bayonetta), with Raiden moving from one cordoned-off zone to the next, hacking up bad guys with his sword and totally rad combos.
The twist is that Revengeance has a feature called Blade Mode that users can trigger once they’ve filled their energy meter to a certain point. Once in Blade Mode, Raiden can perform more precise slashes with vertical and horizontal strikes, or from custom angles using the right thumbstick. The importance of Blade Mode ranges from finishing moves to performing Zandatsu, a slash in which Raiden exposes the enemy’s spine, rips it out, and consumes it to replenish his health and energy. It also offers the opportunity to perform other actions like cutting off the left hands of certain enemies, which contain data and unlock concept art.
Raiden has another ability called Ninja Run that can be a blast to use and is responsible for some of the heart-pounding, semi-platforming sections. When using Ninja Run, Raiden sprints and automatically jumps over or slides under objects in a parkour-like style, while also automatically deflecting gunfire with his sword. The sections of the game that have the player use Ninja Run – like one part where you sprint through a building that’s crumbling around you — are some of the most exciting, cinematic parts of the game; it’s like playing an action movie. It may not sound familiar for the series, but it’s hard to deny how cool it feels.
There are some other new aspects that work well too, including the game’s customization system. Battle points, which are earned over the course of each mission, can be spent on upgrading Raiden’s health and weapons. New combat moves and outfits can also be bought, and players can even purchase new weapons, which are made available after beating bosses, can be purchased, which helps mix up combat. There are other “secondary” weapons that can just be picked up in the field, but they really don’t come into play all that much, except for the occasional need to shoot down a chopper with a rocket.