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David Murphy Jul 31, 2014

Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance

At A Glance

Reanimation

Awesome cutscenes; lovely visuals; quick, vibrant gameplay; plenty of replayability; Blade mode never gets old; absurd boss fights.

Recalcitrance

Hard-to-follow storyline (especially for newbies); annoying combat scoring system; stealth seems secondary; more tutorials and hand-holding needed.

Crazy good fun, but also crazy

As much as we initially disliked the over-the-top storyline, action, and gameplay of Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance, the more we played, the more we found ourselves growing quite fond of the game. It’s more like exercise than a bad wine; worth sticking with for the end results, rather than tossing out after the first sip or two.

I’d like two inches off the top, please.

We still don’t quite get what’s going on with the plot, and suspect that other Metal Gear newbies will approach this game with a bit of head scratching. As far as we can gather, your main character is (eventually) a cyborg-human hybrid that fights against other cyborg-human hybrids, plain ol’ humans, crazy giant killer robots, and all sorts of other screen-filling insanity.

It’s you versus the military-industrial complex of the future. And you get a robot dog. And you try to save children’s brains. And you can do it all in a mariachi costume, if you’re so inclined. We’re not making this up; you Metal Gear veterans know the drill.

If you’re curious about the “revengeance” bit—a made-up word, we’d like to note—the answer comes fairly quickly into the game’s prologue. Your tin-can-to-be, Raiden, is working as a bodyguard/toaster-for-hire. One wrong mission later, punctuated by an energy sword–like object going right into your face, and you’re a hacked-off cyborg fighting in the name of peace and happiness.

We’re not sure where Mistral,  or you, keep that giant polearm.

We sound a little tentative about the plot, we realize. It’s not our fault; it’s a bit of a trip. No matter what, though, you must resist the urge to skip the cutscenes, regardless of how silly they might feel sometimes (or how many there may be). The cinematics are as action-packed as they are beautiful (and gory), interspersed with the primary gameplay just enough to captivate lost gamers throughout the eight-chapter game.

The game-changing element of Revengeance—or at least, the new element that transforms the title from mere hack-‘n’-slash into a bit more of an art form—is the inclusion of a new “Blade” mode. Think The Matrix, but with a sword that can cut through just about anything (torsos, especially). Be more surgical with your Ginsu demonstration and you can gain upgrades for your character by cutting off the left hands (?!) of your cyborg foes. Get wilder, and you can rip out spines for more health and energy (slow-motion time), lop off legs, food-process your foes, et cetera.

The mechanic, while fun, does require a bit more precision than you might expect. You move your mouse around to set the exact angle for the chopping while simultaneously using the WASD keys to control Raiden’s targeting. Lining up your sword can be a pain in the butt, and it’s annoying to turn your target into a split banana when you thought you were perfectly aligned to simply take off an arm. A few hours of this and we were ready to trade in our keyboard and mouse for a controller. Or, better still, a simple Fallout 3–like targeting system.

Also irritating: The game ranks your fighting prowess after each chunk of combat and awards you points for how well/quickly/skillfully you unleashed the pain. You then use these points to buy new abilities, weapons, and stats boosts. We’re not fans of the rating system, as the game’s fairly frantic pacing makes fight-planning a bit annoying. The upgrade system is fine, but it, like the rest of the game, just expects that you’ll “figure things out” along the way. We’d love to have more tutorials for combos, purchased moves, and a better sense of what some of the upgrades actually mean for your character.

On top of that, Revengeance throws in a collectables system—something we didn’t realize until we were about three chapters in and stumbled across a weird object that we could pick up off the ground. Whoops. There’s also a strange “call your buddies” option, where you can chit-chat with the various members of your organization. We don’t really get the point, unless you want a bit more exposition (rather, a lot more exposition) of the game’s complicated plot.

Though it does sound a bit like Platinum Games bolts a ton of extras onto Revengeance, these elements are easily forgiven in the heat of the game’s frantic, button-mashing, stuff-cutting action. Even though we often felt as if we were eschewing strategy for a combination of running around and left-clicking as fast as we could, we actually did find ourselves warming up a little bit to the game’s intended techniques. One learns how to parry quite quickly when suffering defeat after agonizing defeat against the game’s harder-hitting baddies (and bosses).

If you haven’t mastered the game’s parry system for avoiding pain, one of the early boss fights will teach you the error of your ways .

A note on that: The game’s boss fights do feel a bit formulaic, in the sense that the frequent mishmash of cutscenes, quick-time events, and general pattern-like fighting diminishes some of the allure once you’ve figured out the secrets. You could say that for just about any video game, though; we just happened to particularly notice it here.

Revengeance isn’t so much strategic—even with the cardboard box sneaking around—as it is insane. That’s fine with us, especially since you get more upgrade points for killing everything in sight than you do for Assassin’s Creed–like trickery. You’re going to grumble with frustration when a boss the size of your screen pummels you into the ground for the eighth time in a row; you’re going to sigh at some of the exceedingly lame dialogue; and you’re going to wince when yet another limb/body/person explodes in a gory mess.

Above all else, though, you’re going to have fun. And given how replayable Revengeance is, you’re going to have fun squared.

$30, www.konami.jp/mgr , ESRB: M

THE VERDICT

Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance

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