When I review a game that focuses on story as much as gameplay, I feel strongly that I must finish the game in order to best review it. Unfortunately, I can’t finish Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance. Two separate bosses took over an hour of my time—and I couldn’t defeat the second one, three missions away from the end. So I gave up.
But games like Revengeance aren’t ones I’m typically interested in—mainly because I’m fairly terrible at them. And while I couldn’t complete the game, and it angered me to no end (just ask my poor Xbox controller that got tossed across the room a few times), I know a good game when I see it, and Revengeance, at times, is quite a good game.
It’s also quite a departure from other Metal Gear games. While I haven’t played one since the second one, it was still a shock to katana my way through enemies as opposed to knocking them out silently.
In Revengeance, you star as Raiden, a child soldier transformed into half-man, half-machine cyborg ninja. You’ll remember him from the second game (where he was mostly hated) and the fourth game (I don’t know how fans felt about him then.)
The game takes place in 2018, three years since the collapse of the Patriots, who controlled the entire world from the shadows. Private military companies (PMCs) are now springing up to bring order and Raiden belongs to a peace-keeping one called Maverick Security. The main antagonists of the game are from a rival PMC called Desperado Enterprises and a particularly nasty operative named Samuel Rodriguez.
The gameplay is action-based and you can cut through nearly anything. Yes, anything. By holding down the right trigger, you can enter into a Ninja Run which lets you easily jump over obstacles or duck under them. You can also run around your enemies cutting them while they struggle to hit you because of your speed—though many later enemies will parry those attacks.
You can use the left trigger to enter Blade Mode where you control the camera with the left stick and the direction of your blade with the right. It takes a bit to get used to (basically, don’t touch the left stick) but it’s incredible useful as you can precisely slash enemies and objects.
For instance, cut off a giants’ arms so he can’t hit you—but he will then start to kick you. Later in the game, you’ll want to cut around an on-screen virtual box located on enemies so you can pull out the energy core to take and heal yourself with. This is called a zan-datsu attack.
You can also use Blade Mode for a certain amount of time before you need to earn more energy to enter it again. More importantly, you can be hit in Blade Mode, even though you’re in a bullet time state, so watch an enemies’ incoming attacks carefully.
Raiden can also carry a variety of “sub-weapons” such as a dagger or rocket launcher. You can even carry cardboard boxes to hide in. They’re scattered throughout the levels and are often easy to spot.
Parrying is very important in this game, and because I was terrible at it, it’s likely why I had difficulty with some of the bosses, including the one that got so impossible I couldn’t proceed. You’ll need to aim the direction of your blade on normal to parry correctly, whereas I’m told on easy by other reviewers, you just need to hit a button.
Like other games of this type, you’ll often need to kill all enemies within a room before proceeding. At the end, you’ll be rewarded with points and graded on your performance. Use these points to buy upgrades such as new equipment, moves or additional health.
While it sounds like there isn’t an option to play this game stealthily like other Metal Gear games, there are certain sections where you can avoid all enemies—which I happily did a few times throughout the game.
The story and gameplay borders on the insane—nothing new for a Metal Gear game. You’ll race along missiles while in Ninja Run or struggle to keep tabs on your “Jack the Ripper” persona. It’s all over the top and yet it’s quite a lot of fun.
How does the storyline pay off? It’ll be news to me when I learn, because as I said, I can’t finish the game. If Revengeance has one unforgivable flaw, it’s not allowing the player to switch difficulty midway through the game.
But if you start the game on Easy, I have a feeling you’re going to have a blast hacking and slashing your way through the world.
* Disclosure: A copy of this game was provided by the publisher for the purposes of this review. *