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Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance (PlayStation 3) artwork

Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance (PlayStation 3) review


"It always seemed like a matter of time before we got a game like Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance. I just figured that I would be playing it on the Wii. Instead, 1:1 swordplay has managed to find full expression with the tried and true analog control sticks of the Xbox 360 and PS3."



It always seemed like a matter of time before we got a game like Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance. I just figured that I would be playing it on the Wii. Instead, 1:1 swordplay has managed to find full expression with the tried and true analog control sticks of the Xbox 360 and PS3. Not only that, but the analog-driven swordplay is easily the most creative and entertaining part of Revengeance. Sadly, the rest of the game suffers a little bit by comparison; but still, Revengeance is enjoyable for the four or so hours that it lasts.

Revengeance's genesis can be found in Metal Gear Solid 4, when Raiden fends off a dozen or more ten-foot tall automated mechs by himself. Revengeance expands on that singular moment, only a cutscene in MGS4, with a wide variety of moves and weapons, all punctuated by the analog-driven sword mode. It's possible to take out dozens of foes with regular attacks, all of which look great, but it's more fun to simply chop them up. At times, I ended up being positively sadistic, removing arms, legs, and hands, then standing back and admiring my handy work. Yes, I think I have a problem.

Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance asset


Raiden's sword mode can be thought of as a sort of interactive quicktime event, which at times can be a good thing and a bad thing. It's a great way to add some punch to defeating an enemy; and against certain bosses, it's very handy for disabling special abilities like explosive shields and multiple limbs. At its worst, it's an awkward timing-based attack mode in which failure means instant death. This is the case in a battle against one particular boss who tosses three massive pieces of debris, all of which must be sliced in a particular way within a very brief time limit. Those were the moments that made me want to toss my controller through the television.

Thankfully, such moments are rare, and the majority of Revengeance's combat is fast, well-balanced, and immensely satisfying. There's nuance to the way that enemies can be thrown back or into the wall, and the defensive parries are both useful and relatively easy to pull off. Even an occasionally janky camera doesn't dampen the action too much; I struggled a little early, but after a chapter or so, I had adjusted pretty nicely.

Revengeance's combat is arguably at its best during the aforementioned boss fights, which frequently require the full range of Raiden's abilities to successfully complete. It's in such encounters that Platinum's design chops really become evident; each one manages to demand some unique use of Raiden's sword mode ability, and criteria shift frequently enough that they never become repetitive. Most of the encounters feel like straight-up sword duels, which is an immensely satisfying way to approach an action game boss battle. It's always fun to feel like you're going head-to-head with boss, rather than having to figure them out like they're a puzzle, or having to fight minions along the way. The fact that Revengeance loses none of the nuance or creativity that defines its combat during such battles is particularly impressive.

Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance asset


In all, Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance is half of a very nice action game, which will undoubtedly be the rub for some people. It's well-known that Platinum had only a very short time to rescue Revengeance from the scrap heap -- it's a miracle that it was released at all -- and that constraint shows in how quickly the story moves after the midpoint. The latter three chapters are terse and under-developed, with one of them consisting solely of a boss battle. The enemy variety starts to fall off around that time as well, and at one point Revengeance even stoops to a mini-boss rush that feels like pure filler. It's not precisely "bad," but it does feel rushed.

To its credit, Revengeance does toss in a fair number of additional challenges that encourage a few replays. Every enemy encounter is graded, which should be like catnip for perfectionists who can't resist going for an S-rated run. In the tradition of previous Metal Gear Solid games, there are also VR challenges that can be discovered and unlocked throughout the story mode, some of which are quite challenging. There are stats aplenty -- Revengeance even keeps tracks of things like beheadings -- and weapons carry over from playthrough to playthrough. There's enough that it's tough to resist a second run, especially given how fast the game actually goes, which ultimately pushes Revengeance's value up a bit. With all of that said, though, Revengeance is the kind of game that can be wrapped up in an afternoon, maybe less.

Probably the nicest argument for Revengeance is that it feels like a Metal Gear game. Don't laugh; that's not the easiest thing for a pure action game to pull off. The weird sense of humor is there, as is the slightly insane mix of high-technology, conspiracy theories, and high-minded philosophy. And yes, there are multiple Metal Gears to fight, including a Ray from Metal Gear Solid 2, which was the game that marked Raiden's debut.

Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance asset


Of course, your mileage will vary on this front. I know many people were officially out on the series after Metal Gear Solid 4. I personally prefer the Cold War-era games starring Big Boss, since they aren't quite as far off the rails as the latter day entries. If you're wondering, Revengeance has more in common with MGS4 than the Big Boss games, culminating in a slightly silly final battle that I won't spoil here. What can I say? It's a Metal Gear Solid game. Some fan is already prepping an 11,000-word internet dissertation on the broader themes of a game where a cyborg slices people up with a high-frequency katana. More power to them.

No matter your feelings on the franchise as a whole, Revengeance fulfills its primary objectives of being an interesting Metal Gear action game. It's on the short side, and it will occasionally default to hoary action game tropes like quick-time events and boss rushes, but I liked it. It's the kind of game that I would get from a service like Gamefly (either for PS3 or Xbox 360, since there's little difference between the two) and enjoy over the course of a weekend. I may even take another run at the story mode and see if I can get a higher rating with my unlocked weapons.

Apart from being a relatively brief MGS spinoff, Revengeance's last legacy is apt to be its sword mode, which offers a degree of control that will hopefully be borrowed by future action games (I could certainly see God of War having a use for it, what with its preoccupation with beheadings and the like). If that's the case, then that's not a bad way to be remembered for something that ultimately turned out to be half a game, but which so nearly never existed at all.

Rating: 7/10

Katbot's avatar
Freelance review by Kathryn Bailey (February 19, 2013)

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