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Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance Review

Metal Gear Rising Revengeance (1)Literary critic Samuel Taylor Coleridge once proposed that if authors impart “human interest and a semblance of truth” into an otherwise far-fetched story, readers could temporarily suspend disbelief.  Over the years, this theory has been rigorously tested by Hollywood’s summer blockbusters, which have persistently attempt to outshine their seasonal completion. Occasionally, the aspiration to amaze with CGI-fueled spectacle gets out of hand, resulting in a third act that comes undone by widespread implausibility.

Likewise, recent Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 release, Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance probably should unravel under the strain of its own outlandishness. Both Platinum Games and Kojima Productions are indebted to incredibility; the former best exemplified by Bayonetta’s assaults with shape-shifting hair and feet-mounted firearms, the later with Solid Snake’s renowned ability to hide under a cardboard box. With both studios in concise collaboration, the world of Revengeance is teeming with madcap moments. From using katanas to chisel away at incoming streams of machine gun fire, slicing through stout military hardware like it was sponge cake, and even scampering across missile salvos, the title is saturated with lunatic absurdity. Yet, instead of prohibiting players from becoming engaged, the ridiculousness is counterbalanced with a nearly non-stop mixture of engaging mechanics and a profundity of programming polish. Likely, gamers will be too high off the fumes emitted by the title’s high-octane rush to ponder just how far-fetched the damn thing is.

Metal Gear Rising Revengeance (5)Smartly, Revengeance doesn’t commence with its armadas of animalistic mechs or vertical sprints down the sides of high rises (those will come soon enough) Rather, the game’s introduction is grounded in geopolitical tension  as the game’s protagonist, Raiden, guards an African dignitary lauded for facilitating peace throughout the once-unstable region. As the game’s portmanteau suggests, the motorcade is ambushed by a private military company concerned with a potential loss of incentive, pushing Raiden into merciless action. Less convoluted that the rest of the Metal Gear series, Revengeance quickly launches into near-farcicality, flinging caricatured bosses, a liberal amount of satire, and dialog drenched in military lingo at players. That said, protracted codec conversations have been largely abbreviated, replaced with banter as Raiden takes a brief stroll through an adversary-free environment.

In execution, condensing conversations proves to be a deft decision. Pontification about the nature of war would have been largely incongruent with Metal Gear Rising’s emphasis on mellifluous, adrenaline-fueled action. Wisely, the title tweaks hack-and slash convention by omitting a block button, encouraging players to parry strikes with a combination of the light attack button and a push on the left stick which matches to the direction of the imminent blow. With the flurry of activity across the title’s fisticuffs, Revengeance wisely foreshadows enemy strikes with ribbons of vibrant color. Yet, even with this tell-tale indicator, players may feel a bit ill prepared to tackle the game’s grunts and Gears. A short VR training session divulges the rudiments of combat, but tutelage proves to be no match for experience.

Metal Gear Rising Revengeance (6)At first, ill-timed parries result in a quick deflection, merely pushing Raiden out of peril. However, stick with Revengeance’s combat system and possibilities swell. Nailing the beat of a parry creates an opening ideal for a punishing counterattack. From there, Raiden has access to a pleasing selection of combos, using light and heavy attacks to juggle, lift, and pummel opponents in submission.

Gratifyingly, foes don’t wait around to be dispatched, displaying a survivalist mindset as they flank, doggedly pursue, and simultaneously wallop on players. As such, Revengeance’s combat has an undeniable cadence, where players will deliver unrelenting offensive furies, each maneuver seamlessly blending into the next, resulting in a Zen-like brawling experience. Of course, a single kick or rocket shell can quickly stymie Raiden’s momentum, forcing player’s to relocate their groove. The sole blemish on the fluidity of combat occurs when changing weapons; switching to procured swords, sai, and staffs and well as secondaries such as grenades and rocket launchers upset Revengeance’s rhythms.

Metal Gear Rising Revengeance (2)During encounters, a press of the left bumper thrusts Raiden into Blade Mode, which allows for even greater devastation, as time is slowed to a crawl. Once activated, players can use a combination of buttons and the right thumbstick to carve opponents into tiny splinters- as the game gives a real-time, on-screen tally of the number of fragments created. To prohibit players from relying on the technique too much, Blade Mode is tied to a gauge, which gradually refills over time, or is quickly replenished by slaying foes.

Engaging Blade Mode with a full meter activates Revengeance’s Zandatsu, which highlights the inherent weaknesses in foes. With this mode activated, a prompt encourages Raiden to hack toward a specific part of the body, and a subsequent button press allows the cybernetic ninja to tear and crush an opponent’s spinal repair unit. While it might sound like a cheesy animation culled from Mortal Kombat’s playbook, in execution the maneuver remains satisfying through the game’s nine hour duration.

Metal Gear Rising Revengeance (3)Although showcasing viscera seems a long way off from Kojima Productions’ oeuvre, Revengeance does offer a few concessions to fans of “tactical espionage action”. Beyond a homage to Solid Snake’s cardboard hideaway, sections in each of the game’s levels permit skulking about- allowing players to thin out the ranks foes by remaining out of their line of sight. Impressively, the mechanic doesn’t feel shoehorned in, and is discretionary- allowing MGS’s trademark klaxon to be recast as a wild battle cry. The sole weakness in Revengeance’s cybernetic armor can be found in the game’s camera, which can track single foes, but can become disoriented when multiple opponents are on-screen.

Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance demonstrates why converting video games into Hollywood blockbusters can be so difficult. Watching the combination of realpolitik posturing, electrified-blade wielding ninjas, and a cybernetic companion wolf would likely make for a preposterous movie.  Yet by keeping the brains and hands stimulated by a relentless onslaught of enemies, the burden of believability is lessened, allowing players to enjoy an amazingly engrossing thrill ride. Coupled with a healthy number of methods to augment Raiden- as well as collectables and VR missions, Revengeance is a requisite experience for action aficionados.

Metal Gear Rising Revengeance (4)

ScoreA-

About Robert Allen

With over 35 years of gaming experience, Robert 'DesertEagle' Allen is Tech-Gaming's resident worrier/warrior who spends his days teaching at three colleges and his nights devoted to JRPGs.

27 comments

  1. Who open their Revengeance review with “Literary critic Samuel Taylor Coleridge once proposed that if authors impart “human interest and a semblance of truth”

    Deagle, you are a madmad and a scholar. YOU need to go BIG.

  2. Ok, the games bat shit crazy. I know that.

    What I don’t know is which version is better. 360 or PS3?

  3. All I’m hearing is how hard it is. And how Platinum doesn’t provide a tutorial for babies.

    Is it really that hard?

    • There’s casual which makes parries automatic, if you really need that.

      it’s about as hard as Ninja Gaiden. It demands patience, which a lot of gamers don’t seem to have these days.

  4. Great review Deagle, but maybe a teensy bit too wordy. Game reviews should probably be on a 4th grade reading level. This is senior year of college.

  5. Are there multiple difficulty levels? I’ve also heard it’s hard as hell.

  6. Half a guide/half evidence of what noobs write for Kotaku: http://kotaku.com/5985395/metal-gear-rising-does-a-terrible-job-of-telling-you-how-to-play-here-are-some-tips

    As for me, I didn’t read a FAQ, I just stuck with the game. It’s really about a sense of discovery, rather than being told what to do. I think that’s more fun, but I’m probably in the minority.

    • Typical Kotaku, blowing everything out of proportion.

      Playing normal, I’m on the 5th level and died twice. Checkpoints aren’t bad at all.

  7. Way too much to read before the PS4 reveal…

  8. On stage 6. So far, it’s my favorite game of 2013. It’s just so fun to rip guys to shreds.

  9. Great review. Totally deserves an A-.

  10. I just played the demo the other day. I didn’t have any problems learning how to play.

    • Gamers just want everything spoon fed to them. They would have never survived the 16bit days. (/rant off)

  11. Bought this today for $49.99. Loving it so far.

  12. Between you shitting on the story line and 1up saying crap like

    “It doesn’t always work, though. Revengeance has some issues with tone that I’d like to call “Devil May Cry Syndrome”; basically, it’s extremely difficult to tell what I’m expected to take seriously — a problem compounded by the fact that Revengeance attempts its own Metal Gear-style philosophizing that mostly falls flat.”

    I think the world needs newer, better reviewers.

  13. I played the demo and didn’t see anything special about combat. Felt like Ninja Gaiden to me. Actually, Team Ninja’s game might be better.

  14. Don’t really care about Raiden, I would have rather had another game with Solid Snake or Big Boss in it.

  15. One review implied a no kill play through. I want to know if this is possible.

  16. Good review, but too much of it focused on plausibility. Games are escapism. I play to forgot about the job and nagging gf.

  17. I don’t think I understood about 1/3 of it. The rest was pretty good.

    Want to play MSRR right now, but Redbox doesn’t have it.

  18. Could you be any more pretentious? Seriously, you should try.

    • If you don’t like it, why would you want him to try harder?

      Fine review. Good even. Metal Gear is totally crazy at times. Most of the time is just freaking crazy.

  19. Im all about out of this world-crazy-impossible situations. Im the guy who shushes the person saying “theres no way that could happen!” Thats why games/movies > Real Life 😀

    • I do however appreciate basing it on a potential real world scenario of geopolitical tension.

    • Yeah, I totally agree with the point about blockbusters. The end of every one is a big CGI fest that looks like a great big CGI fest.