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Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance Review (X360)

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Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance Review (X360)
Konami
After years of development Hell, which even included being cancelled at one point by Kojima Productions only to be resurrected by developer Platinum Games, Metal Ger Rising: Revengeance is finally here. The trademarks both companies are known for are present and accounted for - a nonsensical Metal Gear story from KojiPro and crazy over the top gameplay from Platinum - yet the game does form one cohesive whole that is surprisingly enjoyable. Action game fans will have a blast with Revengeance.
Game Details

  • Publisher: Konami
  • Developer: Platinum Games, Kojima Productions
  • ESRB Rating: “M" for Mature
  • Genre: Action
  • Pros: Fun gameplay; slicing everything to ribbons; Wolf; nice presentation; good replay value
  • Cons: Dumb story; combat isn't as deep as other action games; music isn't up to Metal Gear standards; seriously, the story is dumb

Story

The story in Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance takes place four years after Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots and features Raiden in an even more advanced cyborg form than he had in MGS4. The story focuses on the decline of the war economy after the fall of the Patriots in MGS4, and the desperate attempts by certain entities around the world to try to kickstart the war economy again by inciting World War III.

That actually sounds interesting, right? But that is just the bare basics of the story. The specifics are much, much dumber. At this point, however, the Metal Gear Solid story is pretty much a nonsensical mess after MGS4, so Revengeance being silly and over the top and barely making sense is pretty much on par for the series. It continues the trend of MGS games introducing really smart and interesting points about the real world economy and focus on war, but the message gets muddled in the delivery. Revengeance does introduce a robot dog sidekick for Raiden with a chainsaw for a tail, though, which we happen to think is pretty awesome so it sort of evens things out.

Features

Revengeance takes about 8 real time hours to beat, which translates into 5 or so hours on the in-game clock that seems to only count gameplay time, so it isn't too bad as far as action games go. It is also nicely replayable because, similar to last year's Lollipop Chainsaw, you unlock better moves and upgraded abilities as you play and you won't max out your stats until at least a couple of playthroughs. Repeat playthroughs are also more enjoyable than your first time through because you'll have a better grasp of the gameplay and how everything works, so instead of trying to figure out patterns and how to beat different enemies you can tear through the game as efficiently as possible, which is really surprisingly fun. There are hidden items in the levels, and even some optional hidden encounters you can miss entirely. To top it off, there are multiple difficulty levels to play through as well as VR missions you can play through after you unlock them in story mode. There is a lot to do here.

Gameplay

Konami
The core of the gameplay revolves around Raiden's ability to cut through objects (and enemies, of course) with his sword. On a basic level, Revengeance is a pretty standard hack and slash action game where you have light and heavy attacks with your sword or special secondary weapons you collect over the course of the game. It puts its own unique spin on the action genre, however, by letting you activate a special "blade mode" where time slows down and you can accurately slash Raiden's sword in any direction you want to cut objects or enemies into hundreds of pieces. You only have a limited amount of energy to use for blade mode, however, so you can't use it all the time. Unless, of course, you rip out your enemies' spines and use them for energy since they're cyborgs just like Raiden.

It makes the game a fun pattern of figuring out the best way to tackle each enemy type, then wearing them down until you can go into blade mode to slice them up and finish them off. Because you have 100% control over Raiden's strikes, you actually don't have to kill every enemy you come across. You can just as easily cut off only their arms so they aren't a threat anymore. You can also even sneak around in an oil drum or Metal Gear's trademark cardboard box and avoid combat entirely if you want. Combat is fun enough, though, that fighting your way through every encounter is definitely a solid tactic.

Defense is also interesting because it works essentially like a just impact in the Soul Calibur series where you actually press the stick toward the attacker along with the proper button to parry their attack and open them up for a counter. Enemies flash a different color depending on whether their attack is blockable or not - yellow means it is an unblockable grab, while red means you can counter it - and once you get into the rhythm of using it in battle it is a really great system. You can even parry and counter boss attacks - including huge towering mechs - with ease.

One thing that has to be said about the gameplay is that it isn't like Bayonetta or Devil May Cry or Ninja Gaiden where you're graded on how stylish and over the top your combos are. The combo system isn't nearly as deep and complex as that. In fact, you're graded more highly for efficiency - ending battles quickly, not taking any damage - than you are for slicing enemies up into a million pieces. Players expecting Revengeance to be the next crazy combo-driven action game will likely be disappointed. As I mentioned above, it has more in common with Lollipop Chainsaw (simple combos to wear down enemies before you rip out their spine / do Sparkle Hunting) in terms of gameplay than it does with Bayonetta. That isn't a bad thing, of course, if you loved Lollipop Chainsaw like I did.

Now, don't misunderstand the above and think that Revengeance isn't crazy and over the top like Platinum Games has become known for. It still definitely is. But most of the crazier stuff is handled either entirely in cutscenes or with simple QTEs. Raiden can jump from missile to missile to reach a helicopter high above ground. He can run up and down vertical faces of buildings. Heck, the boss in the very first level is a freaking Metal Gear Ray that Raiden destroys single-handedly with ease. The rest of the boss fights are similarly epic and crazy, and the game finishes up with an actual somewhat difficult oldschool-style final boss (ProTip: Make sure you have at least one healing item heading into the bosses final form ...).

Graphics & Sound

The presentation in Revengeance is very nice all around. Character models are great looking. Enemies, and other cut-able objects, slice into hundreds of distinct pieces. The environments are decently varied and look good. The framerate also generally stays fairly smooth, but if you're cutting up a room full of office equipment and have a thousand pieces lying on the ground, it does slow down a bit. Not ever during combat, though, which is the important part.

The sound is fairly good overall. The voice acting is fine, with Quinton Flynn reprising his role as Raiden (albeit an older, gruffer, more worn down Raiden), and is decent enough overall. The script wasn't great, but the actors did a fine job with what they had. The music, on the other hand, isn't nearly up to Metal Gear's normal high quality. It is edgier and more rock focused than the electro / symphonic music the series is known for. It isn't bad, just not what we expected.

Bottom Line

Konami
All in all, there is a lot to like in Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance. Metal Gear Solid fans who are already invested in the story will enjoy some of the nods to previous games as well as being able to see how the world has evolved since MGS4. The story isn't great, but fans multiple games deep into it at this point, so might as well keep slogging ahead, right? It does feel slightly weird, on the Xbox 360 at least, that we have the MGS HD Collection and Revengeance, but not MGS4 which directly leads in to Revengeance. Players that never played MGS4 on PS3 will likely feel pretty lost with the story Revengeance. The gameplay is very fun and intuitive and satisfying hack and slash action game fare, but the unique focus on slicing things up, as well as the interesting counter mechanics, make it really stand out. It isn't nearly as deep or complex as Ninja Gaiden or Bayonetta, which might let some action game fans down, but what it does do is definitely unique and fun and absolutely worth a try. We had a great time with Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance, and recommend it for a purchase for Metal Gear die-hards and at least a rental for action game fans.
Disclosure: A review copy was provided by the publisher. For more information, please see our Ethics Policy.
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