I… I had very high hopes and extreme fears when this game was coming out, and when I picked it up a while ago. I am not good at character action games by any means, but was so taken in by the soundtrack that I felt I had to go through the game… which I did one and a half times. Still, saying I cleared, or beat the game would be a lie, as I only got through it on the super easy mode, and after repeating two encounters for two hours, each, I hit my limit and ceased my proper playthrough. I was half joking when I tweeted out “Likes: Metal Gear Rising Revengeance. Dislikes: Playing Metal Gear Rising Revengeance.” But no, that was far more accurate than I intended and… Let me explain this relationship properly.
Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance Review
Platforms: PC(Reviewed), Mac, Xbox 360, PS3
Developer: Platinum Games
Now, while I certainly have not recently looked at the Metal Gear Solid reviews I did almost a year and a half to two years ago, I feel it is safe to say that I have expressed a very prominent love for the franchise that I express for few others. Most of that is found in the series’ storyline, which I would not hesitate calling amazing with no if, ands or buts attached. As such, it is odd that I mentally go through the storyline of Revengeance and feel a bit apathetic about it. This is no way related to the grand overarching story, which is pretty much in line with the series in regards to stopping an evil organization that wishes to bring destruction, but rather one I feel is devoid of the little touches that make this one of my favorite series.
Take for example the cast of characters. While I personally never had problems with Raiden, and still don’t, his cast of supporting characters come across as greatly uninteresting and the concept of interacting with them never really seemed that appealing to me. Partially because of the game’s pacing being 300% faster than the series at large, at the very least. Yet I never found any of them that appealing. Even a robot accurately named Blade Wolf never struck me as all that interesting as there was just not much to his character. The terrorists, meanwhile, followed the trend of being very interesting characters, but the fact they follow the latter main series’ mold of boss characters by providing very little in-game character for them, certainly hurt in my mind.
Take for example Minstrel, the boss of the game’s first chapter, who you see a few minutes before entering a cutscene where she briefly explains her backstory, is killed by Raiden, and is never really mentioned again. I understand the game lacks the length the Solid titles possess, but it is also lacking in the quality I feel, as the storyline feels more as if it is in place to hold together the gameplay, rather than vice versa. Which is fine, assuming the gameplay is strong enough to hold the game, and it is, but I feel it is oddly hampered by its Metal Gear namesake in regards to what the game could have been.
Allow me to explain. At the end of the day, Metal Gear Rising is a character action game, the sort of thing Platinum is known for, carefully managing foes, use extravagant combos to defeat enemies, and receive a ranking as a result. Something I was determined to always make be an A or an S, restarting until I was satisfied with the results… I wasn’t with one battle, which is the reason why I did not complete the game on normal, and that is likely due to how it was a stealth section. An optional objective despite narrative incentive to complete them, the game ultimately does nothing but reward players for defeating enemies, making the problem instead be the set up for these sections.
From what I can gather from playing the game, the environment should not be intrusive, and the player should be aware of where enemies are located. This is made difficult when the game places the player in just about any terrain with vertically, and when the decision to give enemies RPGs they use with recklessness the game does attempt to explain in story bit that was something of a highlight to me. However, they are still incredibly annoying, much like the mecha-gorillas who often leap onto of Raiden, with off-screen being an adjective I would not hesitate to add on. Verticality in general is not the game’s strong suit in my opinion, exemplified by the, quite frankly, obnoxious winged enemies and rocket launcher justifying helicopters on occasion.
I could go on detailing things like walls that do not negate hit detection, the checkpointing of certain areas not always being the most generous to those who feel the need to harvest S-ranks, but thank goodness for the Restart button in that case, but these issues tend to spring up, rather than be constant throughout the game. What is constant is the parrying system, which the game explains pretty goldarn badly if I don’t say, but so did quite a lot of the places I checked to figure out how pressing light attack at an attacking enemy was suppose to become a block that could result in a counter attack.
The short version is that you may only parry an attack if the enemy has a tell, a red plus symbol that warns you when to attack. If this is absent, the best move is to either run away, or use the essential dodge move, which really should have been its own button if you ask me. As pressing X and A may sound simple, but so would pressing RT, with running being triggered by holding that same button. My memory is admittedly fuzzy, but I could swear that was how it worked in the previous Platinum title Bayonetta.
Still, beyond all of that, and focusing on when the game functions well, and after struggling to understand what exactly the title wanted from me, Metal Gear Rising can be one of the most satisfying and downright awesome games I have played in quite a long time. Just take the rather notable quantity of encounters where I was fully aware of what I had to do in order to stylishly get through an encounter. Managing a group of enemies while bouncing between them and ripping out their spines, emerging unscathed as the game, in my mind, claimed the performance was satisfactory.
It caused me to understand the appeal of character action games, in regards to theory during my first playthrough, but to actually go through it with some degree of confidence on normal, it was exhilarating to say the least. That, and it is helped by how Metal Gear Rising’s frantic, energy dripping, and downright intense score that often combines with the fitting gameplay to create some of my favorite moments in the medium.
Many of those are hidden within Revengeance’s boss battles, which, despite being a perfectionist when it came to my performance while playing them, are all great to amazing in their quality, each housing a unique and memorable foe and use the soundtrack wonderfully well. However, to go back down this peak of positivity, I’m not the biggest fan of them visually, nor the game as a whole in fact. Yes, it certainly does look good, but the rather basic futuristic look much of the game has combined with a series of less than noteworthy environments never struck a chord with me. As for the action, which is more important given the genre, I found that the mix of attack splashes to cause a bit of confusion, not helped by a camera that brushes up against my personal comfort zone, but I’ve gathered that most people don’t like the main character occupying, at most, 10% of the screen.
Metal Gear Rising is a game I want to love, adore, pierce open with a knife and live inside of it, gradually eating my way out of its carcass so I am both it, and it is inside me… okay, maybe not that extreme. The point is that I want nothing more than to like the game, but as I said before, I ceased playing it so I would lose my patience for the game, as my desires do not may for an ideal playthrough, and I resent the game because of that. That is true to a certain degree now, and I know I love it too much to ever properly hate it, as it does so much so well that I no longer wish to put it in my hands, lest I feel the disfigurements I uncovered in my furious molestation of the title.
An applaudable effort that does get hung up on a few too many branches, but very much deserving of a recommendation despite possibly not being astonishing.