Game: Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance
Developer: Platinum Games/Kojima Productions
Available on: PlayStation 3, Xbox 360
Reviewed on: PlayStation 3
Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance’s development history is almost as complicated a saga as Metal Gear Solid’s story. Initially announced at E3 2009 as a Kojima Productions project, it was quietly cancelled late in 2010 as developers struggled with making a game around the reveal trailer’s unique cutting mechanic. A year later, the game resurfaced as Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance, developed by cult favourite developer Platinum Games, eschewing the Tactical Espionage Action of the main Metal Gear Solid series while literally carving its own identity.
But fans of the franchise be warned: Revengeance is Metal Gear in name only, with Platinum Games delivering the type of action they’re known for, alongside a few caveats.
STORY: It is four years after Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of The Patriots, and while the Patriots have been disbanded, Private Military Companies (private contracted armies available for those willing to spend the money) are still on the rise. In addition, there is an increasing number of PMC troops undergoing operations to turn them into cyborgs, enhancing their bodies and removing their ability to feel pain.
One such cyborg is former Liberian child-soldier, Raiden. As an employee of PMC Maverick Security, the prologue level shows that he is helping to stabilise an unnamed African country by offering protection to their Prime Minister and training for their army. Things take a turn for the worse as a rival PMC, Desperado Enterprises, acts on behalf of a terrorist organisation and abduct the Prime Minister.
What follows is a tale of revenge, fighting terrorism and philosophical rambling. What also follows is an incredibly shallow narrative, which further proves that Platinum Games still have difficulty creating an enthralling story.
While it could be argued that the narrative for the Metal Gear Solid series was rarely logical and often full of plotholes, it was captivating because it was full of twists and memorable moments. Unfortunately, Revengeance is lacking both of these things. Both antagonists and protagonists alike are relatively unmemorable; a disappointment considering Metal Gear’s previous pedigree in this area.
GRAPHICS: Running at a consistent 60fps at a maximum 720p resolution, Revengeance is silky smooth without sacrificing graphical fidelity. With so much going on at times, you rarely get to stop and look at anything (except when in Blade Mode), but the art-style is simple yet clean with pin-sharp visuals.
In terms of enemy and environmental aesthetics, it is all reminiscent of Metal Gear Solid 4, despite using a different game engine for development. Much like that game, most of Revengeance takes place in external environments, and the game certainly has its own unique look. However, one aspect of the graphics can be rather annoying, and that’s the unruly camera. Quite regularly you’ll find that the camera will either zoom in too far or position itself behind the nearest large enemy/environmental object, something that will no doubt frustrate all but the most patient of players.
Revengeance is certainlygood looking, and its lightning quick framerate really enables the game to play as well as it does. As such, it’s what we have come to expect from Platinum Studios.
SOUND: Revengeance’s soundtrack is a heart-pounding blend of orchestral driven cutscenes, to full on electronic-laced metal for the majority of the game’s levels and boss fights. I absolutely loved the vocal tracks throughout the game, with these pieces appearing to change with the on-screen action. It’s completely different to what you would expect from a Metal Gear game, but in a good way.
In terms of dialogue, Revengeance doesn’t have a lot to shout about. Dialogue is particularly hammy, even for a Metal Gear title. Quinton Flynn once again reprises his role as Raiden, but like most of the vocal performances in this game, his is far from convincing. Despite Raiden now being a cyborg badass, he still sounds like the whiny rookie he was in Metal Gear Solid 2, and when Flynn tries to toughen things up when Raiden is in his “Ripper” mode, it’s just cringe-worthy.
GAMEPLAY: At its core, Revengeance is similar to the likes of Bayonetta and the Devil May Cry series, as you combo your way through foes of all shapes and sizes. How this game differs from other games of its ilk, is that there is no block or dodge ability; instead, your only defences are continued offence or a parrying ability, activated by pushing the attack button along with the direction the enemy is coming from, just as their attack is about to connect. Initially it takes a little while to get used to, but with practice it becomes second nature.
But of course, Revengeance’s raison d’etre is its Blade Mode. Filling the Blade Mode meter (by attacking enemies) allows you to slow down the action by pressing L1/RB and use the right analog stick to swing your sword in a chosen direction. When fighting enemies, certain parts (or all) of their bodies will be coloured blue – these can be sliced off in Blade Mode for extra points, and when the Blade Mode bar is completely full, it will allow you to target a particular spot on the enemy to slash which will then enable you to absorb energy by pressing Circle/B to perform a Zandatsu. This will replenish your Health and Energy in one go, which can make for an impressive sight as you cut through enemies like a hot chainsaw through hummus.
This constant visual and functional reward for skillful play makes Revengeance one of the most enjoyable action games around. Throughout most of the game you feel so powerful; possibly even too powerful.
If the mechanics aren’t enough to make you powerful, there are upgrades purchased with Battle Points. These upgrades range from new secondary weapons (received from defeated bosses), to weapon stat boosts and health/Blade Mode extensions.
LONGEVITY: Now we come to the biggest disappointment with Revengeance. I started playing the game on Normal difficulty, but by the following morning I had finished the game in a mere 4 hours and 40 minutes. Thinking that this was down to my playing ability, I ramped the difficulty up to Hard and finished the game in a single evening, my Hard playthrough clocked in at 3 hours and 11 minutes – with only four deaths (all on the same boss fight). Just to clarify, that is information from the clear game screen, which doesn’t track time spent watching cut-scenes, and only counts the best clear time for each level in a playthrough. Even with that said, this is all dependant on your skill with the game – your mileage may vary, possible clocking a playthrough of around 5-7 hours if you’re struggling.
The game’s easy difficulty is down to the fact that health refills are so readily available (most enemies in the game can refill your energy entirely if killed using the Zandatsu technique), and the game also throws tons of health replenishing items at you, which when equipped will restore your energy upon death. It’s almost ironic that the game mechanics that make the game so enjoyable to play, are the very same mechanics that make it so damn easy.
However, Very Hard and Revengeance difficulties can be unlocked as the game is completed on previous difficulties,which is always irritating as it would be best to have these modes unlocked from the beginning, as they offer a far greater challenge than the initial settings. Extended play can be garnered from Trophy/Achievement collection, replaying levels for better rankings, plus a small selection of VR Missions – and the game is entertaining enough to make you want to do these things.
However, the easier than usual difficulty also makes Revengeance one of the more accessible action games out there, which may well be appealing for those who baulk at the likes of Devil May Cry or Platinum’s own Bayonetta.
VERDICT: In terms of gameplay alone, this is so close to being one of Platinum Games’ best releases. It’s one of the most fun and exciting games I’ve played in a while, and even if it existed without the Metal Gear name, Revengeance would still have been a game I recommend people to try.
Due to Revengeance’s unmemorable narrative and shortness of length, it may not satisfy some Metal Gear fans. But like skydiving to an adrenaline junkie, this game brings a whole lot of excitement in such a small length of time.
I'm a UK-based writer with a passion for gaming that spans over 2 decades. For years I've been interested in the history of video games and as a result I have quite the collection of console hardware, not to mention a brain bursting with gaming trivia and knowledge.A member of the GodisaGeek team between 2011-2014, I am a former Senior Staff writer and Video Producer for the site. I return on occasion to pen a review every now and then. On Twitter I can be located @TheLastMetroid and I can be emailed at lee[at]godisageek.com. I'd love to hear from you!