This uncompromising exhibition of lightening-fast fun is stylistically excellent, but is cut down towards mediocrity, thanks to some frustrating design and an inaccessible control scheme.
In appropriate fashion Revengeance sets out of the stands at absolute lightening pace. Wasting no time at all the action kicks in with protagonist Raiden guarding the president whilst in the Middle East. After an initial cut scene in which the star man gives his intentionally self-righteous motivations, the action hits the road, when a number of cyborgs attack the convoy.
The kind of frenetic pace commonly associated with Platinum Games is exuded from the outset here. Loosely following the standard hack & slash formula, a mix of heavy and light attacks are initiated with the square and triangle buttons. Which alone may have sank this title into the depths of the average button masher. But thankfully, the addition of the ‘Ninja-Run’ function spices up the mix. By holding the R1 button the player can speed Raiden up to a full sprint that allows a variety of its own well-animated attacks.
The most interesting mechanical addition of this feature is without doubt the ‘Blade-mode’ mechanic. By holding L1 the player can slow down time and line up Raiden’s sword to chop any enemy into fleshy confetti. Which is as fun as it sounds.
These mechanics are laid out very basically in the initial mission, but it must be said that the game is not player friendly. The controls are ill explained at best, and at times the game can seem punishingly difficult not through intentional design, but obtuse control and functionality. The dodge move, which is absolutely imperative for survival, is never introduced and is in fact an unlockable move, which is madness given the nature of the game.
This is one of the most fundamental flaws of Revengeance (which is absolutely not a word). It is poorly explained, unclear and never attempts to be anything other. Whilst this may not be an issue for the hard-core, who are willing to lose an arm for a gold trophy, it does illustrate a level of inaccessibility for the mass market of casual players. Even playing at normal difficulty, death is a very common occurrence, and the final boss is a masochist’s wet dream.
After a fantastically grand initial boss fight, Raiden encounters his similarly animatronic enemies and is gruesomely defeated. Setting up a vengeance mission. Platinum Games effectively lay it out, so you can play it out.
The elephant in the room is undeniably the very odd split of graphical aesthetic. The pre-rendered cut scenes are gorgeous, and yet during game play this game looks dated. Textures are flat; the colour pallet is for the most part dull and despite the games’ shoulder-pinching linearity the arenas still look monumentally uninteresting. Which is a mix that doesn’t help immersion.
Clearly then, the split development period this game endured has taken a toll on the final product. Originally helmed by Kojima Productions, Revengeance was in development for several years before being handed over to Platinum Games. The totally opposing ideologies of the two companies can often be felt tugging at either side of Raiden’s lovely silver locks. As the more methodical narrative typically associated with Metal Gear, seems a million miles away from the madcap fun of this crazed stab-fest. It doesn’t inherently detract from the overall experience, but it is inescapably jarring for fans of the series.
Unashamedly Japanese in every way, from the 10-minute death monologues, to the way that everyone sounds like they’re chewing on gravel; Revengeance has a rather enjoyable, albeit predictable narrative arc. An achievement in itself (as fans of the series will know) is how Platinum Games have managed to make Raiden a cool character. No longer the irritating cusp guy who Grandma sometimes invites to family gatherings, Raiden is a lightening infused badass and every inch the super-powered protagonist this game needed.
Picture it: a jaw-snapping kick to one enemy, before cutting two more directly in half, finally topped with a lightening fast run towards the final guy, who ends his evening looking like a shish kebab. If there’s one thing that Revengeance does well, it’s empowering the player. Even at it’s most crushingly infuriating, it is rewarding like few other titles in the genre.
The final few hours of Revengance are memorable for all manner of absurd and interesting reasons. The penultimate level of the game in particular is very well constructed and serves as the tip of a rather satisfying narrative crescendo.
Inescapably silly and quite often a mental breakdown induction, Metal Gear Rising Revengeance is at times pad-smashingly frustrating. It is poorly explained, uneasy on the eye and intentionally obtuse. More exasperating still, is how excellent this game could have been had it experienced a more consistent development period with Platinum Games. Nevertheless, when on form Revengeance is irrefutable fun in many ways. Fast, frantic and rewarding, Raiden serves up all the thrills expected of a lightening infused ninja.
Playstation obsessive and Red Bull fiend. Will play anything and everything. Max Payne champion, adequate FIFA player and hopeless driver. Currently studying Journalism at The University of Salford in the hopes of achieving game-reporting glory. A man can dream.