Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance
Metal Gear – cited by many as one of the most important franchises in video game history. But the majority of games falling under this banner have primarily been stealth-focused, the series being one of the first – and definitely the most prominent – to pioneer the very genre. So with Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance, a fast paced hack’n’slash title, fans were right to be on edge. But Platinum Games’ solid track record of some the most fluent combat design in recent years is evident here, delivering a game not only worthy of the name, but worthy of standing on its own two feet.
Appearing, to varying extents, in a couple of other Metal Gear Solid titles, our cyborg friend Raiden is back and taking center stage in Revengeance. Growing up as a ruthless child soldier, Raiden is damaged goods, and through the franchises trademark storytelling prowess we’re given a highly likeable and memorable character. While the overarching storyline is one of political and military struggles and intrigue, very suitable in tone and scale to what you’d expect from a Metal Gear game, the real quality comes in form of Raiden’s personal demons and involvement. Through a gripping narrative, Revengeance delivers one of the best stories in the series, and certainly more than you can expect from most hack’n’slash games which generally throw this aspect to the side in favour of action.
Thankfully, Metal Gear Rising doesn’t skip on either! While it’s a fairly standardised affair, with two attack buttons and a ‘sub-weapon’ making up your whole arsenal, the pure enjoyment of the gameplay will keep you glued to the screen. You can unlock and upgrade various new weapons as the campaign progresses, but these are just personal taste for what you prefer to crack skulls with.
A big feature however, is the much publicised ‘Blade Mode,’ which is a free-cutting ability to allow the player to, quite positively, cut any number of enemies and inanimate objects however they well please! This works a real treat, and is far from a silly gimmick thrown in to stand out. Apart from the good fun it allows out of battle when you want to take a break from the hectic waves of enemies and cut up some furniture, it’s actually a necessary part of the core game experience. Using Blade Mode, Raiden can cut out enemies’ spines and feverishly eat them for health, or surgically remove limbs for damage bonuses and certain unlockables… or just to watch your foes squirm around the floor with no legs.
I was actually quite shocked to see this feature worked into the game so flawlessly, and without feeling forced. The mixture of both the regular combat mechanics and the Blade Mode integration works well for both normal fighting and more cinematic experiences like the boss fights. It’s a refreshing attempt at keeping things unique – and a successful one at that.
Revengeance isn’t all about the copious action though; it does try to feed in some stealth. You can sneak up on enemies and kill them stealthily (although still incredibly violently), and you could even sneak through whole sections of some levels, avoiding all combat. But this was very undeveloped, seemingly thrown in just for good measure and to lay claim to keeping its roots. When short, unbelievable line of sight is the only deciding factor on stealth (no noise, even from viciously murdering someones buddy only meters away and chopping him into pieces,) and there are no subtle or simple movements or options it simply doesn’t feel right. Enemies don’t adapt to you, never straying from predetermined paths or showing any signs of actual AI. And no matter how much you try to get me to use the cardboard box to hide in, that won’t change.
I was disappointed to see a lack of Leaderboards too, as Revengeance is the kind of game that dares you to replay the levels and the effect is lessened when you can’t compare and compete with your friends scores. I was pretty proud of my Hard playthrough, and would have loved to have a reason to head back into it when my mates beat the times and scores. A simple feature, that could have made a big difference.
There’s an abundance of sci-fi in Revengeance, everyone and everything is a cyborg and the environment features a plethora of technology and futuristic design. It’s unoriginal, but a good look for the game, and works hand-in-hand with the major plot elements and characters.
Textures and models – both character and environmental – could have used a bit of polish, but despite some dated qualities they’re all fairly adequate. Especially when the delivery is so good that you won’t much notice.
From a design standpoint, Revengeance is superb. Cinematic and art direction are through the roof, delivered in gorgeous cutscenes and scripted in-engine moments that make the story very engaging, not to mention feel great to play.
Playing in tone with the visual direction, both the musical score and original vocal tracks here are something to behold. The vocal tracks were made to match the intensity of the action, and play out on different levels very well as some of the bigger fights progress, finally morphing into the full blown original music during the final moments. This is a perfect example of sound being used in a way that actually complements the gameplay, and in this case really gives an extra jolt to the feeling of superiority you get when giving some of the hulking opposition a thrashing.
Collaborating with notable heavy metal producer Logan Mader, along with the likes of John Bush on vocals, Jamie Christopherson successfully, as he himself so perfectly said, put the ‘metal’ in Metal Gear Rising.
The voice work and a lot of the scripting doesn’t always come across as completely serious, and I guess that’s fitting given the franchise in question. Revengeance has a quirky sense of humour and sometimes exaggerated acting, and it’s great! Not overdone, and still very good when it needs to be. It’s an odd balance really, but as always, in Metal Gear it works.
- Great visual and audio direction
- Good storyline, characters and tone
- Fluent and engaging combat
- Blade Mode works a treat
- Poor and unnecessary stealth elements
- No leaderboards
Stylish design, flawless visual and audio direction and tons of high-octane action; that’s Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance in a nutshell. Some great concepts that are nicely executed keep this game fun and interesting, and with the good story to complement the gameplay, Revengeance is a solid package that’s hard to fault.
Written by Lax