Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance (PS3) review

Metal Rising Rising: Revengeance may be a hack and slack action title, but it's a Metal Gear game through and through.
Photo of Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance (PS3)

Famed video game designer Hideo Kojima first revealed what would become Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance at a Microsoft E3 press conference in 2009—roughly the halfway point in this console generation’s life cycle—when it was billed as Metal Gear Solid: Rising. Four years later—an eternity for Metal Gear fans—the game’s finally here, but with many changes: There’s a new title, Platinum Games took over the development duties from Kojima Productions, and the gameplay lost many of its stealth elements in favor of high-octane, sword-based action. Some rough camera angles mar the Revengeance experience, but it’s amazing that the game exists—and is quite good!—considering how long it languished in development hell.

Revengeance’s development shift from Kojima Productions to Platinum Games allowed the Anarchy Reigns , Bayonetta, and Vanquish creators to run wild with their own special brand of action within the confines of Kojima’s universe. Despite the changes, Revengeance is, unquestionably, a Metal Gear game.

Metal Gear Without The Solid
It’s the melodramatic characters, G.I. Joe-like sci-fi tech, codec calls, cardboard boxes, unnecessary cleavage, and military themes that give Revengeance the Metal Gear touch. Raiden—the long-hated, whiney protagonist who replaced series mainstay Solid Snake in the controversial Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty—fronts Revengeance, and he’s essentially a different character. Sporting a high-frequency energy, cybernetics, and a darker demeanor, the new Raiden is a futuristic samurai-like warrior who works for Maverick, a private military company.

He’s tasked with protecting an African dignitary travelling in a motorcade, but all hell breaks loose when a rival private military company kidnaps the V.I.P. Story-wise, that’s all you’ll need to know within for this review; don’t worry about spoilers. That said, Revengeance’s storyline, like previous Metal Gear Solid games, has its surprises. Revengeance is, however, more streamlined than the titles in the convoluted main series—to its benefit.

Jack the Ripper
Revengeance’s sword-based, two-button combat is powered by Platinum Games’ trademark stylish action. Basic light and heavy slashing blade attacks slice enemies when you tap the respective buttons, but truly amazing combos emerge when you vary the inputs. Three light attacks in a row, for example, produce very different results than three heavy attacks. Mixing the attack strengths together, and even pausing between button inputs, produce additional moves that transform Raiden into a cybernetic Ginsu knife. Raiden not only does slashing damage, he does hacking damage, too, which is heart of the game.

“Blade Mode,” Revengeance’s defining combat trait, is basically Bullet time with a blade (you activate Blade Mode by holding the L2 button). Blade Mode moves the camera close to the target and lets you lets you make hyper-precise cuts that lop off entire limbs. According to Platinum Games the physics were a challenge to program, but the results are impressive. For example, a diagonal Blade Mode slice through and enemy’s torso causes the upper section to “slide” off in the appropriate direction. In fact, the computer A.I. is programmed to “realistically” react to damage. Remove a foe’s legs and he may crawl after you or, if he still packs a firearm, shoot. It’s incredibly fun to dissect the game’s many technology-enhanced mooks, but shredding a Metal Gear’s outer armor while hundreds of feet in the air is one of the most thrilling and satisfying moments in action gaming. The carnage left in your wake is both impressive and hilarious.

Blade Mode has its own fuel-cell meter which diminishes as you use it, but you can slowly recharge it by performing combos and zendatsu. The latter technique can be performed in Blade Mode if you defeat an enemy and expose its core. You can then rip out the foe’s fuel-cell to replenish your health and Blade Meter and continue the high-powered fighting. Even though you’re constantly refilling your Blade Mode meter, it never feels broken. As a cyber-ninja badass you should run through the blade fodder with relative ease.

That said, I would’ve liked more significant items to cut. Though you can slice many incidental environmental elements, major items—like walls—can only be sliced when the game allows it.

Killer Kuts
Revengeance, fortunately, tosses big bads at regular intervals, and the fights are awesome. The Metal Gear franchise is known for its outrageous villains, and Platinum is known for its outrageous character designs, so pairing the two results in some truly unique action moments. The boss characters have unique powers and attack patterns that make up the best rogue’s gallery since Ninja Scroll. Ponder this: The most normal boss-like enemy is Metal Gear that you’ll fight within the first few minutes of playing. Acquired boss weapons, grenades, rocket launchers, and other instruments of destruction makeup your secondary and sub-weapons.

The action direction is superb. Raiden fights on top of building, trains, and in other interesting settings, but the camera placement and incredulous moments elevates Revengeance from a very good action game to an excellent action game. I’m not the biggest Quick Time Event supporter, but when you parry a Metal Gear’s attack with your sword, toss it into the air, and then hack it to pieces (all to the sounds of rising guitars), you can’t help but to smile. It’s unfortunate that some of these sequences reduce player control, such as a magnificent missile hopping sequence that demands you simply hold down the Ninja Run button. I would’ve much preferred to execute the missile-leaping myself.

Master of Your Domain
Ninja Run is a technique that causes Raiden to sprint. It has no meter—you can Ninja Run as long as you’d like—which nets many advantages. Raiden, while in motion, automatically deflects enemy gunfire, can execute a dashing slash, and performs a slick evasive slide move. The Ninja Run also lets the player automatically perform parkour-like moves to overcome obstacles. Removing player interaction in this circumstance is actually a good thing as it removes some of the goofy platforming elements that plague action titles.

A more essential technique to master is the parry. Executed by pushing toward an enemy and tapping the light attack button, parrying is key for setting up life-bar draining attacks. You can even parry attacks coming from behind. It’s immensely satisfying. And it keeps getting better. Effective fighting nets BP, Revengeance’s in-game currency, which lets you upgrade Raiden. With it, you can purchase many improvements including lengthening your lifebar, purchasing an Aerial Parry, and more.

The action gets quite furious, which ties into my one major gripe: Sometimes the camera gets unwieldy, especially if you aren’t locked onto a particular character. Getting knocked across the screen and attempting to gather your whereabouts as an enemy pummels you from off camera is highly frustrating. I actually got a bit dizzy rapidly rotating the camera during certain battles.

The Verdict
Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance was a long time coming, but unquestionably worth the wait. It’s easily Platinum’s best single-player work since Bayonetta and Konami’s best Metal Gear since the PS2′s Snake Eater. If you had any reservations about this game, slice ‘em and dice ‘em—Revengeance is the real deal.

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Specifications
Genre Action Games
Platform Xbox 360, PlayStation 3
ESRB Rating M for Mature

Verdict
Metal Rising Rising: Revengeance may be a hack and slack action title, but it's a Metal Gear game through and through.
Published under license from Ziff Davis, Inc., New York, All rights reserved.
Copyright © 2012 Ziff Davis, Inc