Ready for some Metal Gear Solid “tactical espionage action”? Well, that’s too bad, because Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance has as much sneaking in it as monster truck rally. The frenetic combat and over-stylised presentation in Revengeance is fun, but it lacks the depth of other established action RPGs. Yes, this was made by Platinum Games, but be sure to leave your Bayonetta mindset at the door before setting foot in this short action slasher.
There are plenty of Metal Gear tropes in Revengeance, and fans can expect to hear about PMCs and the Patriots in due time. The presentation has all the hallmarks of a Metal Gear game, for better or worse: the fonts, the hammy voice acting, the copious number of cutscenes, and even the infamous “alert” sound. It runs at a fair lick, too; the FOX engine manages to stick to 60 frames per second most of the time, even during some of the more frantic moments, and it looks gorgeous while doing so. The camera, however, is horribly implemented and often fails to cooperate, and I spent more time trying to swing the view towards my enemies rather than swinging my sword at them.
The hack-and-slash gameplay is fast, frantic and satisfying, making Raiden a deadly force when thrown into a group of enemies. Dodging comes later, and blocking is replaced with Parrying; a critical tool. It’s clear that players should be less concerned with evading damage, and more focused on dishing it out.
Blade Mode is the star of the show. It’s a slow-motion mechanic that allows you to slice cyborgs in twain. Cutting through a target location lets Raiden rip out an enemy’s spinal cord(!) for a sweet, sweet health pickup. The mode does take some getting used to, partly due to the atrocious camera controls, but it is fun to get into the groove of targeting limbs and wearing down enemies to the point where you can cut them julienne.
There are only a few bosses in the game, and they really do feel like boss fights: each battle is hard fought and demands discipline and perseverance. Victory is rewarded with new subweapons that change up Raiden’s style sufficiently enough to offer more versatility in his attacks.
In fact, the small number of bosses makes the whole game feel shorter than it should. Revengeance looks great, plays fairly well, has some pretty interesting enemies and gives off a great Metal Gear vibe. However, it simply doesn’t last long enough to make a decent impression, because the combat doesn’t offer any solid progressive challenges. In Devil May Cry, the game throws harder mobs of enemies at you to deal with, and you felt a real sense of accomplishment as you utilised every weapon in your possession and brought to bear all the skills you learned throughout the game. I didn’t get that feeling in Revengeance, and by the time the six hour campaign was over, I was left wanting, despite the inclusion of New Game+ and the VR missions. Am I asking too much? At full retail price, I don’t think I am.
Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance is a change of course, and the fast-paced action spinoff isn’t a bad idea. For the most part, it’s executed adequately: it looks gorgeous, and the unique style of swordplay feels great. The awful script and cheesy presentation may turn some gamers off, while the vast majority will curse the wretched camera controls. What really hurts Revengeance’s score, though, is the modest amount of gameplay and replay value. Buy this one at a lower price tag, and I’m sure you’ll feel a bit better about your purchase.
Reviewed for Xbox 360.