Review – Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance

Jake Dubusker ’15

So we’re nearing summer and the Quarter 2 releases are starting to run thin, there’s Child of Light which I intend to review soon, but other than that developers seem more focused on polishing their flashy game trailers for the upcoming E3 this June than releasing actual games. I just recently finished Killer Is Dead and it left me wanting more high-paced sword fighting action, so I picked up Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance, a game whose title demonstrates that any sequel to a series can be named by placing a word that begins with “Re-“at the end of the franchise name.

I haven’t played any other Metal Gear games before, but Revengeance is distanced from the rest of the series. It advertises itself as an “Action game set in the Metal Gear Solid universe,” and not “A Metal Gear Solid game.” Traditional Metal Gear games are heavily stealth-centric in order to avoid having to go through the terrible combat (so I’m told), but Revengeance is a hack-and-slash type of action game that scraps that convention and centers combat around fast-paced and precision slicing enemies apart. Combat is sword-based, with the unique feature of being able to cut objects and enemies at any angle, which makes for an interesting game mechanic of being able to enter bullet-time and slice up enemies at every angle until they’re powderized, and you’re rewarded by accurately slicing up their various limbs.

Now, one of Metal Gear’s biggest criticisms is that they can never keep a consistent tone, and Revengeance is no exception. The game switches rather jarringly between angsty drama and lighthearted comedy, which I suppose is better than the alternatives of having no comedic relief at all or having only a silly comedic game with no plot development, but some consistency would be nice.  Another similar issue is that later in the game you’re forced on a few occasions to be stealthy, with gameplay akin to older Metal Gear games. I suppose the game has to have at least some gameplay connection to the rest of the series, but since the combat is fun now being stealthy is boring and feels forced. Fortunately these sections don’t last very long, and good thing because the game is rather short. Taking only story mode into account, there’s only about 6-8 hours of total gameplay. Short length isn’t necessarily a bad thing if the story is told well and the experience is fun, however, and there’s certainly a lot of fun to go around during Revengeance’s boss fights. Much like Killer Is Dead, there is massive appeal in facing opponents of outlandish bodily makeups and skillsets and clashing swords until you come out on top. The final boss deserves particular mention for this in that not only is it the best boss fight of the game, but it provides an amazingly satisfying conclusion at the same time as being ridiculously outlandish and hilarious. The game was inconsistent in tone before, but the final level flies completely off the already wacky and misshapen rails. I won’t spoil it, but imagine you’re watching something like Ghost in the Shell or CSI but near the end you sit on the remote and the TV switches to Biker Mice from Mars, or an episode of Dragonball Z where the evil villain turns out to be Hulk Hogan, who starts shouting about how awesome radical republican policies are for 20 minutes before doing body slams on anyone who disagrees. The game certainly has its fair share of problems and jarring flaws, such as the quick-time events during boss sequences, but at the end of the day all game reviews boil down to the question “is it fun?,” and the answer to that question is a strong and resounding “yes,” because the game presents itself very well and makes up for its flaws with the memorable experience it provides.

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