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Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance PS3 Review

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Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance

Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance

Image © Konami
An emphasis on stealth, a focus on the future of modern warfare, epic cut-scenes, exclamation points above enemy's heads when they spot you -- this feels like a "Metal Gear" game...and yet it doesn't. What you have come to expect from games like the beloved "Metal Gear Solid" series is twisted in the highly entertaining and incredibly challenging "Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance," now available for PS3 and Xbox 360. This is an action spin-off to "Metal Gear"'s stealth-based combat (with a little bit of the latter) and it delivers not unlike a major Summer Hollywood blockbuster, for better and worse. There are set pieces in "MGR: Revengeance" that are simply awesome in their design and incredibly fun to play. Just as critical thought is dismissed during the $100 million action scenes of major Hollywood sequels, it's easy to get caught up in the over-the-top lunacy of the best of "Revengeance." However, just as the screenplays for films like "Battleship" are not their best quality, the storytelling in "Revengeance" falls a bit flat.

Game Details

  • Publisher: Konami
  • Developer: Platinum Games
  • ESRB Rating: M (Mature)
  • Genre: Action
  • Release Date: February 19, 2013
  • Pros: Streamlined Action, Great Combos, Gorgeous Graphics
  • Cons: Lackluster Story, Short Running Time, Intense Difficulty of Some Bosses

Even though its a relatively short game (around 5 hours), "Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance" wastes no time. It is non-stop action, running, slicing, dicing your way through waves of cyborg enemies and the truly crushing bosses that control them. The storytelling, as disappointingly thin as it is, centers around a cyborg ninja named Raiden. You control this slicing & dicing machine as he invades another country in pursuit of a terrorist cell that's been kidnapping kids and possibly turning them into weapons of mass destruction. The bulk of the game consists of slashing, hacking, parrying, and slow-motion slicing enemies into little pieces. And death. Lots of death.

Gameplay

Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance

Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance

Image © Konami

The best thing about "Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance" is the pace. From the very beginning, the game is flying by at a speed that leaves most of the backgrounds a blur. The first thing you learn is how to run and attack while you're running. There is no slowing down. Slowing down is death. You will then quickly get accustomed to combat, which seems like a pretty standard system of light attack, heavy attack, and parry/counter moves. However, it is easy to use but will take serious time to master. Let me tell you about the nightmares around the first time I fought Blade Wolf (and didn't realize I needed to equip the paste that would regenerate my health while he kicked my ass) or the unbelievably difficult Monsoon after my video game PTSD has passed.

The combat in "Revengeance" is addictive in the way that great games get better as you refine your skills. By the time I had relatively mastered Raiden's abilities, I started to eagerly anticipate the next wave of enemies. Of course, this being a "Metal Gear" game, there are time when it would be advisable and you're encouraged to avoid combat. Some of the most difficult enemies in the game can be defeated in one button-push if you can sneak up on them. Others should be avoided with a timely use of a cardboard box or metal barrel to hide in. The game is simply expertly paced with boss battles well-apportioned and combat streamlined like one of in-game machines. If you like action games, this is a stellar one.

Sadly, the storytelling doesn't live up to the action. As in most "Metal Gear" games, the cut scenes are once again EPIC but you can skip them this time, and it will be surprisingly tempting to do so. In stealth-heavy games, getting engrossed in the story can be easier than games like "Revengeance" that thrive on action. When people (or, actually, more often, cyborgs) start philosophizing about the future of warfare, it's tempting to go get the popcorn for this blockbuster. Or just fast forward.

But the success of "Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance" comes back to combat. Combo moves, the wicked-cool Blade Mode (which allows time to slow as you slice and dice specific points on your enemy, even removing their power cores in one blow to replenish your health), the Ninja Run -- "Revengeance" flows in ways that action games rarely do. So many games like this are choppy or repetitive but there's streamlined propulsion to "Revengeance" that elevates it above the rest.

Graphics & Sound

The pace of "Revengeance" is so relentless that the camera sometimes has a tough time keeping up with it (tip -- always use the lock on button with your enemies or you'll lose 'em to the camera work). I was annoyed at how often I was looking at nothing -- not even Raiden -- but those moments weren't common enough to truly destroy the action flow. For the most part, "Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance" looks excellent. Small nitpick -- Raiden's hair is always pulsing like it has a heartbeat. It's probably supposed to represent wind flowing through it but it looks dumb. As a whole, the backgrounds, enemy design (especially the bosses), cut scenes -- this is a stellar visual presentation.

Overall

Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance

Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance

Image © Konami
Yes, it's short. Yes, the story is lackluster. Those will be complaints by haters of this game that are impossible to deny. However, even those haters, will have to admit that there hasn't been an action-based title this fluid and hypnotic in quite some time. It is as lean a game as you'll play this year. Lean in storytelling and lean in running time but also lean in repetition and lean in boring gameplay. Like its protagonist, "Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance" is a fine-tuned machine.
Disclosure: A review copy was provided by the publisher. For more information, please see our Ethics Policy.
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