Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance
Anyway you look at it, Revengeance is an undeniably silly, somewhat stupid subtitle for the latest chapter in the Metal Gear saga. But Rising doesn’t want to be the new Solid. It wants to put you in firm control of the absurd, to feel the adrenaline you felt watching Gray Fox in action in The Twin Snakes, or even Raiden in Guns of the Patriots. It wants to be the wild antithesis of Solid Snake, the chaos to Metal Gear Solid‘s order, and that is exactly what Platinum Games have created.
Veterans of the third-person action genre will have no trouble stepping into Raiden’s cybernetic pumps. The action is fast and fluid as light attacks and heavy attacks are seamlessly strung together, creating a kaleidoscope of sword slashes and blood spatter. Separating Revengeance from of its genre peers are the omissions of both a traditional block and any sort of useful evasive maneuver. In its place, the game employs a unique parry system that is the very foundation on which the game is built.
Most enemy attacks have tells, some including wind-up animations or a glowing appendage, and a quick flick of the analog stick accompanied with the light attack button will deflect almost any strike. What makes Revengeance‘s system different is the two tiers of the parry. Should you miss the timing slightly you’ll merely deflect the enemy’s attack, but still negate all damage. However, with a perfectly timed parry, the enemy will be pushed back and momentarily stunned, leading to easy damage or Zandatsu opportunities. Having a two-tiered parry mechanic is a clever way to teach novice players how to protect themselves. In other games a missed parry or counter-attack will generally lead to heavy damage, and while that can still happen, the larger windows provide encouragement rather than frustration. On its normal difficulty level, Revengeance will likely prove little-to-no challenge to seasoned players.
In addition to Raiden’s health, and plentiful drops of Nanopaste (health kits), players have to manage electrolytes, which allow for the game’s signature Blade Mode – you all remember the infamous watermelon slicing demo, surely. In practice, Blade Mode is generally reserved as an exclamation point in combat, either after a successful parry or after one of the enemy’s limbs has become sufficiently weakened enough to be severed. The results are always over-the-top, but landing a single precise slice allows for a Zandatsu, which triggers a quick scene where Raiden wrenches the cybernetic spines from his prey, simultaneously replenishing his own health and electrolytes – thus allowing for continued precision cuts and Zandatsus.
Executing a Zandatsu in the middle of combat is a badass moment. It gives you a minor breather and it recovers your vitals, empowering you to dive headfirst back into Revengeance‘s offensive loop. Without a block or dodge you’re constantly pressed forward, Ninja Running between enemies, deflecting projectiles like you’re a Jedi, because you’re frankly most vulnerable at a standstill. But this plays to Platinum’s strengths, much like their work on the high-adrenaline third-person shooter Vanquish. Revengeance is most easily enjoyed when you’re left to quickly survey your opposition and surroundings and make split-second decisions on the fly.
As a Metal Gear game, Revengeance successfully blends the stealth and surreal humor of Kojima’s work, crafting a refreshingly varied action game. Stealth plays a legitimate role, allowing cautious players to avoid combat in some places altogether, or thin enemy ranks before waltzing into open combat. Neither Raiden’s or Platinum’s forte is stealth but with the right amount of patience it’s a wholly viable and rewarding alternative. It also adds an extra layer of game that breaks up the action, allowing for Revengeance to be more than the interconnected series of arena fights that plague the genre. And, on the bright side, unlike many stealth games, the only penalty for being caught is more great combat.
When Revengeance stumbles, which is a rare occasion, it succumbs to the same pitfalls as other Metal Gears have. While cut-scenes aren’t nearly as frequent or legendary as Metal Gear Solid 4‘s, several last longer than the hokey story should rightly warrant. Between them and forced Codec sequences, Revengeance occasionally slows to a crawl. Some of the new villains hold their own, providing worthwhile adversaries in terms of gameplay and character, but when Metal Gear continues to steer further and further into the abstract it becomes increasingly difficult to stomach its lectures about private military corporations and the people behind them.
Fans of the series should be happy with the impressive glut of Easter eggs, VR missions and other content to unlock. Among them there are some awesome secondary weapons, including the tactical sai Dystopia, which doubles as a hook for grappling enemies. Series staples like crates and drum cans return, as well as pop idols to scope out and ID tags recover, none of which makes a Metal Gear title, but it mimics the winks and nods the series is known for to satisfying results.
Hiring Platinum to resuscitate Metal Gear Rising was the smartest move Kojima Productions could have ever made. Platinum identified that a world subject to infinite player Ginsu-knifing is a world without obstruction. Revengeance revives its signature sword play as the show stopper it was always meant to be, but does it in a calculated manner. The result is an action game that never overstays its welcome. It’s quick to its point, and while I wouldn’t call it my favorite Metal Gear game, it’s likely the only one I’ll ever replay.