Metal Gear Rising Revengeance: review

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  • Format: PS3 (version reviewed), 360
  • Unleashed: Out Now (NA), February 22nd (EU)
  • Publisher: Konami
  • Developer: Platinum Games
  • Players: 1
  • Site:

When is a Metal Gear game not a Metal Gear Game? When it’s Revengeance. While on the surface no more than an astonishingly hilarious joke, the ring of truth can be heard in that statement. Four years and two development teams after the initial announcement, we have what is essentially a hack and slasher where nods to its Solid heritage almost exclusively lie in the story (which is where Kojima Productions kept heavy involvement) and the HUD. Platinum have been made to dance along a fine line here. Can they please all of the people all of the time?

Those who have followed Solid Snake’s escapades throughout the years will get the most out of this storywise – but no, he doesn’t make an appearance here. That said, such is the nature of storytelling in the Metal Gear series, only the most fervent of Kojima fans will have complete understanding of what’s going on. Even if you’ve never played a Metal Gear game in your life, you can easily understand that (a) cyborg terrorists and giant robots are being naughty and you need to hack them all to pieces, and (b) Raiden looks exactly like David Bowie in the prologue.

It’s slightly unfair to dismiss the plot in such a way, though. Some of the dialogue in the cutscenes (none overlong, all skippable) actually provides a little food for thought. Nonetheless, none of your enemies get a chance to develop as characters because generally speaking, as soon as a boss has finished discussing the philosophy of war with you you’re tasked with turning them into Tesco burgers before they kick your face off.

In terms of gameplay, this is very much Platinum’s baby. Don’t expect a copy of Bayonetta with the magic swapped for pseudo-science though. For one thing there’s a huge emphasis on, simply put, looking cool. Back in the late eighties, a game called Strider with a sword-wielding protagonist was released, and very little effort was required to make your avatar look like the pinnacle of athletic perfection. So it is here with Raiden. You have a ‘Ninja Run’ button which, when held in conjunction with any direction on the left stick, allows you to leap over, slide under, and jump through the middle of any obstacles – while automatically deflecting any bullets being fired in your direction.

Similarly, you can look like an expert in combat regardless of how well you’re actually doing. There are only two attack buttons – light and heavy – but plenty of flashy moves and combos to unlock, which can of course be easily performed by accident by those hammering at the pad like an enraged chimpanzee. Then there’s Blade Mode, entered by holding the relevant button when your energy gauge is sufficiently full. Time slows to a crawl while active, allowing you to carefully line up swipes of your blade at any point on the enemy’s body on the horizontal, vertical, or either of the diagonal planes. It’s not total control of your blade, but far more than standard play allows.

That’s not to say that this is an easy game by any means (this is Platinum Games, remember?). The difficulty curve, however, is a bumpy road. Revengeance is generally at its hardest at the beginning, before you spend the BP you earn from battles on upgrades such as increasing your health and attack power. Combined with Ripper Mode (which can be activated when your energy gauge is at maximum capacity) which is unlocked after a few hours play, you’ll soon find yourself easily tearing your way through enemies which kept knocking you back earlier. The difficulty tends to take a huge leap upwards at boss fights – on your first playthrough, at least.

Lovely sky, a ferris wheel, a robot gorilla… this picture has everything.

One of the first things Revengeance teaches you is that you can, and should, parry by swinging your sword in the direction of the incoming attack. This usually works very well during missions, even though some attacks can’t be parried and it’s not immediately obvious which attacks those are. Parrying becomes much more important when fighting bosses but unfortunately, the camera – which usually behaves itself beforehand – struggles to keep up with your opponent as they whizz from one end of the arena to the other, at great speed, repeatedly. There is a lock-on button, but its effectiveness when you lose track of the boss is something of a lottery.

One chapter is made up solely of such a boss fight, which is the most awkward encounter in the game. Camera tracking problems aside, it’s clear that Platinum wish you to rapidly parry multiple blows like a master, before unleashing devastating counterattacks. Lightning-fast strikes from multiple directions, combined with a camera that sits so close behind Raiden said strikes are often obscured, is not the ideal situation.

It’s important to stress however that generally, skill is rewarded. There are rare opportunities for Snake-style sneaking, rewarded with silent stealth kills or avoiding encounters entirely. Use of Blade Mode on a dead or dying enemy can locate and retrieve their tasty innards, instantly replenishing your health and energy – or cut off collectable hands (really). Our Normal playthrough took less than eight hours (not including cutscenes), but this is a game meant to be played and replayed. You’re encouraged to go back for the best scores, the missing collectibles and all the unlocks, and you will – thanks to the ability to return with your upgrades intact (after the prologue).

If more clever uses of Blade Mode had been included, such as breaking down one boss’s defence; if the camera had been refined; if there were more incentive to make use of sub-weapons; if the game were a little longer… but ultimately that’s not important. This is a flawed, but hugely enjoyable, game that never gets stale thanks to a few interesting ideas here and there. Metal Gear fan or not, here you’ll find a slasher with an emphasis on spectacle that still remembers to be fun.

critical score 8

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Written by Luke K

Luke plays lots of videogames, now and again stopping to write about them. He's the editor in chief at Critical Gamer, which fools him into thinking his life has some kind of value. Chances are, if you pick up a copy of the latest Official PlayStation Magazine or GamesMaster, you'll find something he's written in there. Luke doesn't have a short temper. If you suggest otherwise, he will punch you in the face.

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