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Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance (Xbox 360) artwork

Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance (Xbox 360) review

"For all the silly things that occurred in Metal Gear Solid 2, all the absurd situations Raiden was placed in, and for all the asinine codec conversations I had with Rose (single-handedly trying to stop super-powered terrorists, damn it!), there's one aspect I really enjoyed: using that sword."

For all the silly things that occurred in Metal Gear Solid 2, all the absurd situations Raiden was placed in, and for all the asinine codec conversations I had with Rose (single-handedly trying to stop super-powered terrorists, damn it!), there's one aspect I really enjoyed: using that sword. Sadly, it's a short-lived moment within the story, and the most mileage I ever got from the weapon was playing the VR missions in the Substance expansion. I thought this could've been used as the basis for a full Metal Gear release, so it is somewhat surprising Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance took nearly 12 years to become a reality. Even then, the project was almost canceled due to Kojima Productions' inability to create a proper sword game, hence the "somewhat". Thankfully, PlatinumGames, champions of fast-paced, hi-octane slaughterfests with interesting gimmicks, happened to be the right studio at the right time, salvaging the project and making it their own.

Originally intended as an interval between MGS2 and 4, following Raiden's journey into his eventual cybernetic form, this final version takes place four years after MGS4 and the Patriots' fall. The world is more or less the same, with war still pushed as a huge, money-making business, and the game starts with Raiden doing what he does best: being in the middle of a disaster. His motorcade is ambushed, the leader he's protecting is kidnapped and killed, and by the end of the debacle, he's missing body parts... again. But hey, at least you get to learn the basics of combat along the way, slaying cyborgs and mechs through crumbling city blocks, eh? Though, if you've played a third-person slasher game in the last ten years, preferably Japanese ones like Devil May Cry, Ninja Gaiden, or Bayonetta, you'll have no problem getting the hang of Revengeance in seconds, stringing together combos like they're nothing.

I mean, it's cool finally having a full Metal Gear title where you can cut through countless enemies, but with similar games having long come and gone, is this a case of being too late to offer anything fresh or exciting?

Well, PlatinumGames have ensured the battle system never gets dull by inserting very important mechanics, with the most gleeful-inducing of the two being Blade Mode. Just by holding the left trigger, the camera focuses on Raiden and his immediate surroundings, and you gain the ability to either wildly slash a person or object with the action buttons, or make precise cuts using the analog sticks. More so, through constant attacks, you can build up your power bar to the point of slowing time in Blade Mode, where you can watch in awe as dozens of body parts gravitate away as if in space. Occasionally, a red target box appears on a foe's body in this state, and if you hit this section, then successfully perform the flashy QTE afterwards, your reward is replenishment of your health and power bars. That sounds cheap, but your opponents, from sword-wielders and goons with mechanical wings, to rocket launching bastards and Gekkos (those weird ostrich mechs from MGS4), relentlessly pounce your protagonist in groups, so you're going to need the aide.

Gutting most enemies isn't as easy as entering Blade Mode, however, as heavy-duty cyborgs and beefy mechs require a solid beat down before that's possible. One option is to string together a flurry of combos to thin their defense, but another is to use that other vital mechanic: parrying. Basically just press in the direction an opponent is attacking while hitting the light action button to launch a parry. It's that simple. What's not simple is the timing, as anyone can do a parry to repel nearly any attack. If done at the exact instant an enemy is about to make contact, you can place them in a daze, which is usually followed by a potential one-hit kill maneuver. Considering you're normally surrounded by a gang of two or more, this requires tremendous concentration on your behalf. It's worth the practice, since using Blade Mode and parrying in harmony turns Raiden into an unstoppable monster, giving you a genuinely satisfying feeling as you tear through waves of resistance with lightning speed (impressively, the game NEVER chugs), all while trees, bridges, pillars, and vehicles crumble into oblivion thanks to your blade of destruction.

Probably the biggest kick I get out of Revengeance is that, even though it's from a different team and is mainly centered on action, the game doesn't stray far from its Metal Gear roots; soldiers will go into caution and alert phases when something odd occurs, there's a radar at your disposal, you can still have countless codec conversations about stuff you forget seconds later, and the classic cardboard box makes an appearance. You can even choose to approach Revengeance with a stealth mentality, as there's plenty of opportunities to sneak behind characters for one-hit back stabs. I was kinda meh about this at first, since I could play any typical Metal Gear for the same experience. But it became fun over time, especially for enemies that were more vicious and took forever to destroy. It's such a gratifying feeling taking out three Gekkos in a row without a hint of suspicion from any. That, and I never get tired of doing the sneak attack from a higher platform, where Raiden stylishly drops and shoves his sword through some poor guy.

So it really pains me to say that Revengeance never truly reaches its full potential. I love the play mechanics, but they're bogged down by such a very basic design which restrains their creativity to an extent. After an explosive opening that teases with what's to come, featuring the likes of a one-on-one fight with a stubborn Metal Gear Ray, Revengeance goes through the motions of your normal linear action title; you'll go from one closed area to the next, only being allowed to advance when all threats are dealt with, and usually being introduced to one new enemy per level. Yeah, 90% of games are like this, but Revengeance does it with blatant simplicity. This is where the mechanics deserve major props, as if it weren't for the pleasure of slicing people into pieces, the challenge of parrying, and the added value of stealth, I would have zoned out early on. The boss fights too, while a bit inconsistent with difficulty (you think they'd get harder as you dive further in the game, right?) are intensely fun, featuring super freaks that stay in tradition with one of Metal Gear's better qualities. Like, there's one boss who slides around while holding explosive shields, forcing you to make super precise slices. Fat Man would be proud.

You do get some sort of variation every now and then, but I don't put much stock in them, as they're half-assed, never reused or expanded upon ever again. You have a chase sequence in the first stage... but it lasts 15 seconds at best with no threats. There's also a moment where you need an arm to open a gate... but if you fail to attain one, you just slice open the gate anyway. Revengeance is even home to the shortest boss gauntlet I've been pulled through, with a stunning opposition of... two bosses. Then, there's a segment where you hack into a Dwarf Gekko, a small, orby robot... which is used for ONE room. That last one in particular was a dreadfully wasted idea to hack into various other machines throughout the game. Gah!

Now, it wasn't till I neared the climax of my first playthrough that I noticed parallels to one of PlatinumGames previous efforts: Vanquish. It's eerie how the two share a bond in terms of flow, to the point where I question if Vanquish was intentionally used as Revengeance's influence with pacing. Both have engrossing starters that introduce you to their respective worlds, there's a ton of hectic, actiony cutscenes you wish were actual gameplay sections, and each have very weak, mid-to-late levels that are obviously intended as padding, only to be saved by an epic final boss. In Revengeance's case, I was baffled how the game kinda fizzled before the end, where one stage forced you to endure yet another trot through Denver streets after watching an absurdly lengthy helicopter fight cutscene. Worse, the level closes with no real conclusion or boss fight. Well, Raiden acquires a motorcycle, which I figured would lead to a neat escape sequence, but instead it's a cutscene of him riding to a boss fight, which is oddly a separate stage itself.

That being said, Revengeance places me in an awkward situation; it has one of the most entertaining battle systems I've experienced in a third-person action title for quite some time, however, a series of odd flaws prevent the game from achieving greatness. I say odd, because this was created by PlatinumGames, housed by a group of talented developers that have a laundry list of well-known titles under their belt. There just shouldn't have been as many issues as there are, and if you take away the fun combat, crazy boss fights, and brand name, this easily would have been a severely disappointing product. I'd also mention in depth how bizarre the "character development" is in Revengeance, especially Raiden's sudden dilemma in killing (???), but I'm willing to forgive it... to a degree. I guess since it's definitely not as bewildering as MGS2's plot and twists. I just hope the game sells well enough to warrant a sequel, because I'd be elated to see what an improved version of this would be like.


pickhut's avatar
Community review by pickhut (March 26, 2013)

Do I wish there was a sequel to Super Puzzle Platformer Deluxe? Sure. But not if nothing new or drastic was added. We don't need another Puzzle Bobble/Bust-A-Move mess on our hands.

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