My goal is to spell “Revengence” “Revengeance” correctly on the first try before the end of this review. Wish me luck. Better yet, wish Platinum Games luck, because their first two titles out the door this year have been underwhelming.

Metal Gear Rising: Revengince Revengeance is a much better game than Anarchy Reigns, but given that this title is part of the storied Metal Gear franchise, Raiden’s outing has a lot to live up to. We’ve known for a while that the stealth elements were largely stripped out (and based on the remaining, terrible sneaking moments, they should have been entirely excised), so that isn’t a surprise. What is astounding though, is just how behind the action game curve Revengance Revengeance feels.

After coming off of Ninja Theory’s outstanding DmC: Devil May Cry, Revengeance (nailed it!) feels sloppy and devoid of key elements featured in the best of the genre. There is no dedicated evasion technique, and the parry is clunky, imprecise and unevenly applied. It’s never clear which attacks can be countered and which will send you flying across the screen.

Toe, heel, pivot and SLICE

The tutorial goes only far enough to suggest that you can’t parry everything, but there are no consistent visual cues to indicate that running or jumping away is the only recourse. For instance, some Unmanned Gears (UGs) like Gekkos can be deflected, but smaller, armored troops often have unblockable attacks. Especially without a dodge or roll, clearer communication would have done the experience a world of good.

The combat has the tendency to feel too much like button mashing. There are moves that can be purchased for the default high-frequency blade and special weapons that are acquired along the way, but it’s not until you expend the credits that you can actually go into a separate menu to learn the button command. I typically like to base my upgrades on fit with my play style, and this approach doesn’t give me that option.

One of the best features is a slow motion “blade mode” state. Here, horizontal and vertical strikes are each controlled with a different button, and custom angles are manipulated with the right thumb stick. This is important, because it allows you to target the chewy, restorative nougat hidden in each enemy cyborg. Slashing the right area will refill health and the fuel cells that power blade mode. It’s gruesome, but that can be said of the entire experience. I don’t want to spoil the thin story, so you’ll have to trust me that there are some truly disturbing moments.

No. More disturbing than this. MUCH more disturbing.

While Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance does share a universe with the adventures of Solid (and Naked) Snake, including familiar foes, communication via Codec and the Soliton Radar system, this experience feels hollow and without a focused narrative purpose. Raiden’s history has seen him transition from unwitting pawn to cold-blooded murderer simply because he’s nagged by villains. He’s unlikeable, and especially without the up-front presence of his family, I found it nearly impossible to sympathize with him.

The primary antagonists are the private military company known as Desperado. After the events of Metal Gear Solid 4, we were led to believe that the “war economy” and the PMCs would be minimized. It seems that despite those victories, the only thing that has changed is the elimination of the Patriots. War might have changed in Metal Gear Solid 4, but it the world Snake worked so hard to change feels awfully similar in Revengeance.

I couldn’t help but feel like the entire experience was forced. Strip away the warm blanket of familiar sound effects and characters, and what’s left is an attractive hack-and-slash game with a melee Bullet Time mechanic. Even with those touchstones, Revengeance feels sloppy. Using the Ninja Run (which automatically deflects some projectiles during movement) typically felt imprecise, and the combat is rarely strategic beyond targeting and ripping out an enemy’s curative goo pouch.

Excellent boss fight!

Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance is an attractive game, and Raiden looks great rending man and machine limb from limb (except for the overly compressed cut scenes). Some of the boss battles feel like the enormous encounters that the genre is known for (and even occasionally engage the brain as well as the hands), while others merely mask boredom and frustration. Additionally, it’s a shame that the seamlessness between cinematic and user-controlled action present in Metal Gear Solid 4 doesn’t make a return.

Voice acting (with the exception of Raiden’s on again/off again exaggerated anger) and overall sound design are solid, with a heavy rock and metal soundtrack punctuating the more intense moments. The dialog is peppered with clever humor, including a classic Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles reference that had me chuckling.

Terribly tedious boss fight.

From a presentation perspective, almost all is well. Platinum Games has a tendency to segregate its tutorials from the core experience, making learning an exercise in tedium. Here though, it’s downright problematic. Core menu functions like interactive tutorials, VR missions and even upgrading will send you back to the most recent checkpoint upon returning to the game. This is a terrible mistake, and I can’t fathom how this was allowed to happen. It serves as a significant deterrent from mid-mission upgrading, which is otherwise a staple of the genre. I would greatly prefer dedicated upgrade points placed by the developer to undone progress.

As someone who has been a faithful fan of the Metal Gear franchise for decades, I was looking forward to experiencing the universe in other genres. Unfortunately, there is so little of the soul of Kojima’s most popular endeavor here, that it’s hard to reconcile Revengeance as part of that legacy. Thankfully, every indication is that the VGA Phantom Pain trailer was really Metal Gear Solid V. If so, we can rest easy knowing that the taste of Revengeance will be washed out of our mouths in the coming months. As for Platinum Games, I hold out hope that the Wonderful 101 lives up to its name.

 

Here’s the Rundown:

+ Occasionally flashy combat
+ Attractive visuals and solid soundtrack
+ “Blade mode” provides the enjoyment of raw carnage
- Sloppy controls and mindless button mashing gameplay
- Boss battles are hit or miss in terms of enjoyment
- Lacks the spirit of the Metal Gear franchise

 

6 and 6.5 represent a game that doesn’t do anything spectacular or drastically fails to meet the high expectations people had for it. These scores are for games that you would only recommend to diehard fans of the series or genre, something that the average gamer wouldn’t miss very much if he/she skipped it. A game in this range has rental written all over it. 

Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance was developed by Platinum Games and published by Konami. It was released on February 19, 2013, at the MSRP of $59.99. A copy was provided by the publisher to RipTen for the purposes of review.