You’re at an amusement park. Like most, you’re waiting in line for the roller coaster. After what seems like a lifetime, you’re finally strapped into your seat, legs dangling as the cart makes its slow, steady ascent up the tracks. You’re pumped with excitement and a bit of fear as your ride twists and inevitably hangs in mid-air upside down for a few seconds before it plummets down an almost ninety degree slope. Before you know it, it’s all over and you’re waiting in line again for your next adrenaline fix.
Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance is much like being at an amusement park trying to get as many turns on the roller coaster as possible. Except without the boring bits before the corkscrews and barrel rolls. It’s a crazy ride that has you pummeling a gigantic Metal Gear Ray, running up crumbling walls and jumping from one missile to the next. And that’s just the first ten minutes.
You don the cybernetic armour of Raiden, formerly the Backstreet Boys reject from Metal Gear Solid 2, but now the bad-ass ninja from Metal Gear Solid 4. A bunch of mercenaries killed the VIP you were protecting, severed your arm, and knocked out an eyeball. Needless to say, you’re looking for payback and, well, saving the world while you’re at it. From some hilarious character development to application of good old Metal Gear tropes, there’s not a moment that’s not bounding with action. In fact, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a dull moment in what is an extremely well-paced video game.
This is one of the few titles that lend themselves well to multiple playthroughs simply because of the sheer number of ways you can maim, decapitate and skewer your foes.
While on the topic of moments, dull or otherwise, by the time you’re done with it, you’ll feel like you’ve started only a few hours ago. You won’t be wrong. Yes, Revengeance is a short game and for some, maybe way too short. It clocks in at around eight hours on hard and almost five hours on normal (not counting cut-scenes and retries), but it’s strength is in replayability. Rarely have I felt like playing a game immediately after I’ve just finished it. This is one of the few titles that lend themselves well to multiple playthroughs simply because of the sheer number of ways you can maim, decapitate and skewer your foes with an assortment of items, moves and abilities you gain access to as you progress.
There are optional enemy encounters, a slew of VR missions to unlock, and maxing out your stats needs more than one playthrough. Plus, it’s a lot more enjoyable the second time around as you’ll be well-versed with the combat system and strategies needed to ensure that every enemy in your way is perfectly sliced and diced to be served as cyborg sushi.
I use the term “well-versed” because unlike most hack and slash affairs, where there’s equal focus on offence and defence, Revengeance has you on a full-frontal assault, so much so that parrying in itself is an art worth perfecting. Doing so early merely blocks an attack but time it correctly and you will do massive damage. Couple this with Blade Mode, which lets you go into slow-mo for a few seconds and target weak points for maximum carnage, and you have an elegant fighting system.
While these two elements alone would suffice, the fine folk at Platinum Games went out of their way to introduce Zandatsu. If you’re able to devastate your enemies using parries or Blade Mode, you’ll lift them in the air and, with the press of a button, rip out their spines, which automatically refills your health and energy. This gives Revengeance a sense of flow that’s almost zen, flitting from one mechanised beast to the next, stabbing your way through for opportunity to tear out their spines, all whilst deflecting their blows with well-placed parries.
If you’re good enough, you’ll never have to go into the menu to use a healing item. Boss fights are well done too. There’s enough variety and design that keep in touch with the Metal Gear trappings we all know and love, delivered with a sense of over the top madness that have characterised most of Platinum Games’ efforts this generation. Without spoiling much, you’ll find all of them entertaining, right down to the vocal-heavy metal final showdown.
At a rollicking 60 frames per second, every bit of the action is fluid, fast-paced and as fun as it should be.
All of this is made astonishingly better thanks to the frame rate. At a rollicking 60 frames per second, every bit of the action is fluid, fast-paced and as fun as it should be. Even when faced with hordes of nasties, the battle never skips a beat. Unlike DmC on consoles that had a rather deliberate pace to the proceedings, there’s nothing to hold this game back from delivering a tense, heart-stopping affair. Regardless of your affinity towards PS3 or Xbox 360, you’ll be assured of virtually the same experience.
Furthermore, it isn’t plagued by texture pop-in, slowdowns or other such graphical anomalies that console gamers are forced to bear. It isn’t just a fantastic frame rate or gorgeous looks that make Revengeance such a joy to play; there’s room for some lightheartedness too. From riffing on Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, to dwarf gekkos that can’t put a pendrive into a USB slot in the first attempt, to anime-crazed security guards, it’s packed with references, homages and humour to make this blood-soaked tale force you to crack a smile or twenty.
But there are a few things that would turn your smile upside down. For one, the tutorial is a tad sketchy. A lot of what the game has to offer, especially when it comes to combos or parrying, is left unsaid. It quickly takes you through the basics, and this results in odd spikes in difficulty thanks to the lack of practice forced on you. The problem never becomes more apparent than when a fellow reviewer calls you, asking how to defeat the first boss after trying several times. Though old-school gamers would relish the challenge it throws up and revel in the subsequent satisfaction gained, I won’t be surprised if the more casual of the bunch give up after a couple of tries.
The camera isn’t the greatest either. On occasion, it decides to take a leave of absence that lets you lose your direction, shift enemies at another angle, and in narrow spaces, opt for a view from below the belt, which makes certain segments a tad frustrating. Sure, this is a roller coaster ride without the snooze-worthy parts, but it feels all the same when you’re taking wanton damage from a bunch of mechs for no good reason.
These flaws aside, Revengeance is, if you can excuse the pun, a solid game. There’s enough in the plot to keep die-hard Metal Gear fans interested and it isn’t as long-winded or convoluted to turn off newbies. Throw in satisfying combat and fast-paced action that gets better as you go and you have one hell of a roller coaster ride. Or at least one that’s worth the price of admission several times over, minus the irritating amusement park journey and long lines. Just keep in mind that some of the action would take place at crotch-level. And not in a good way.