One of the more under appreciated genres lately is the insanely over-the-top action game. Titles such as Bayonetta, Asura’s Wrath and, now, Metal Gear Rising Revengeance offer incredibly unique experiences that make very little attempt to take themselves seriously. While the mechanics are fun, these games will be remembered much more for the experience of sheer ridiculousness.
Coming from a series that takes itself very seriously, Metal Gear Rising instead sits as a wacky side-story featuring familiar face Raiden. For a Metal Gear game, the story is surprisingly straightforward. Some bad guys do some bad things and Raiden sets off to take revenge. Along the way he finds greater and greater dastardly deeds that he tasks himself with stopping. He runs into various cackling villains and face off against odds that would normally be insurmountable…unless you have a sword that can cut through almost anything.
If you’ve seen any video for Revengeance then you know that the sword is the chief focus of the game. Normal combat is pretty standard but with one fun twist: at any time you can hold down the left trigger to activate Blade Mode. This mode allows you to plant your feet and carefully aim slices with the right stick. While there are definitely moments where the game demands you to attack in precise strokes, more often than not you will simply flail away, purée-ing your enemies into little bits.
It’s a simple mechanic but one that remains joyful to use throughout the game. Blade Mode also leads to another cool part of the game. Zandatsu, which translates literally as “cut and take,” directs you to slice through the center of an enemy while in Blade Mode. By doing this you can grab the enemy’s energy core, which allows you to fully replenish your own health and energy.
Being the supreme ninja that he is, Raiden also brings one last trick that greatly separates Revengeance from other action games. Raiden is apparently a fan of “the best defense is a good offense” as he completely lacks the ability to block and dodge in combat. Instead the game revolves entirely on parrying. This is accomplished by pressing the left stick towards your attacker along with a properly timed button press. At first it’s a bit of a shock as the only means of defense but in practice it just feels right.
As you can tell, the combat in Revengeance is quite fun and the combat is easily the focus of the game. This isn’t your slightly old brother’s Metal Gear; you’re not going to be spending time sneaking around. The game does give you the option to be sneaky – even including a tongue-in-cheek cardboard box item – but with combat this fun you’ll likely never want to go for stealth.
While confrontations with regular old cyborgs and giant robots is fun, the true highlight of Revengeance is the game’s many boss fights. Each of the main bosses is distinct and memorable, both for the characterization of the villain and the fight itself. These battles also prove to be pretty brutal, forcing you to learn patterns, master parrying and strike when most advantageous. While hard, they rarely cross the line into feeling unfair or frustrating, a true sign of a well designed fight. Also most of them grant you with the nice reward of a new secondary weapon for use in conjunction with your sword.
Even with all of this great stuff, the true beauty of this game is the sheer lunacy it presents. It’s filled with hammy dialogue, the villains are are wonderfully over-the-top and the situations Raiden finds himself in get more and more ridiculous as the game goes on. The only downside is that there are a couple times where the game stumbles and actually attempts to take itself seriously. This is especially prevalent towards the end of the game. A sincere moment that is framed by a bizarre situation simply has no room for success. Revengeance would have been much better suited if it would just stick to its guns instead of trying, and failing, to be something more meaningful at the end.
Many people out there have been reprimanding Revengeance for its brevity. My playthrough clocked in right around 8 hours on normal and at this point there is still plenty to do in the game. Harder difficulties awaits as well as the challenge of getting S ranks on each level. You can also replay the game with your current abilities and weapons to keep ranking up or you can take a trip through the game’s twenty VR missions, although oddly enough they have to be found in the campaign before they are unlocked.
Metal Gear Rising Revengeance is quite the surprising title. It had a bumpy development, it almost entirely eschews the gameplay of past Metal Gear titles and it was made by a new studio. Luckily Platinum Games proved to be a great choice to craft this side-story that could easily transition into its own franchise within a franchise. It may not be what your average Metal Gear fan is looking for but fans of action games will find plenty to enjoy.
SCORE: 8.0 out of 10
A review copy of Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance was provided to Pixel Related for review