Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance is not my GotY

Friday, 22 February 2013 09:15 GMT By Brenna Hillier

Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance may be the victim of Brenna’s lofty pre-release expectations, of which it fell just a tiny bit short.

I don’t hesitate to recommend the game to anybody with even the slightest interest in action games or who enjoys the Metal Gear franchise – especially as Platinum Games has tone down some of the more trying aspects, like 20 minute cutscenes. That said, it’s not perfect.

I’ve been a bit surprised by the very positive reviews for Metal Gear Rising: Revengeace. It’s a good game, and I enjoyed it, but I didn’t love it. I expected to love it. Dave seems to have loved it. Everyone loves it, apparently.

There are plenty of sources of praise for Revengeance and I encourage you to seek them out and absorb them, because they raise excellent points about its delightfully authentic Metal Gear presentation and the sheer joy of its fast paced technical action. I don’t hesitate to recommend the game to anybody with even the slightest interest in action games or who enjoys the Metal Gear franchise – especially as Platinum Games has toned down some of the more trying aspects (such as 20-minute cutscenes).

That said, it’s not perfect, so to stand in balance to Dave’s very strong recommendation, I’d like to offer a run down of what I didn’t like about Revengeance. It’s not a long list, and you’ve got to take it in context with the positive reviews; I’m not just pouring shit for the sake of it on what is, I believe, a solid and enjoyable effort most core gamers will value.

The camera is bollocks. Revengeance has a lock-on feature, which somewhat mitigates this flaw, but Raiden spends a heck of a lot of time zipping around narrow interiors where the camera insists on backing up against walls, wandering off to stare into a corner, or wildly flip-flopping between extremes.

This is heck annoying because like many Platinum action games you need to be precise in your timing, and that really means being able to see what’s happening. It’s a game where you have to be quick, mobile and ruthlessly efficient to evade and destroy the enemies; even when you’ve upgraded Raiden’s systems, some of the tougher but common foes can knock off a third of your health bar in a single hit.

The difficulty is all over the place. In some later sections you could probably close your eyes, hold one button and mash another, and open them a few minutes later to find legions of dead enemies at your feet. Of course, you won’t get an S-class rating for chopping down grunts in this lazy fashion, and I’m sure there’s a defence here somewhere about accessibility. But I did find it easy to reach S rankings in these sections, time and again – so I must be pretty good, yeah? You can’t get any better than S.

Here’s Sam having a smashing
time taking on a Metal Gear Ray.

And yet moments later I would limp out of a standard encounter having used up all my health items, having barely managed a D ranking. Learning each kind of enemy’s weaknesses and attack patterns is key, of course, but even fore-armed the difficulty pendulum swings back and forth wildly, never quite hitting that slow climb which is most familiar and satisfying. Experts will find the game too easy. Newbies will be hammered. The middle ground is an exhausting traipse between the two extremes.

The stealth sections are bullshit. Advances in soliton radar technology mean our hero can see where foes are at all times, even when he’s caused a panic. Unfortunately, he rarely has any idea where they’re looking. Enemies usually have lights which vaguely indicate the direction of their gaze, but as soon as they break away from a cardinal point (Revengeance is clearly built on boxes; there’s barely a diagonal line in sight) it becomes very difficult to guess their viewpoint. One section in particular, sneaking through a Japanese garden, was a nightmare for me; in the end, the answer was “run through the middle”, but it took hours of trial and error to find this out.

On top of that, going stealth actually seems to punish you. Fuck up a sneaking section and you’ll have a nasty fight on your hands, but as fighting is the point of the game, and the only way to earn the BP you’ll need to upgrade all your skills and weapons so handle tougher opponents, it seems like the preferable option. (I’ve never understood the logic behind this kind of upgrade system either; getting more points for better performance is fine, but if those points are spent on things that make the game easier, you’re effectively blocking beginners from helping themselves.)

Hideo Kojima’s trailer for Revengeance
isn’t indicative of the storytelling you’ll
encounter in-game. Thank goodness.

These are not huge complaints, just things that bothered me personally, and I want you to take them on board to temper the slobbering enthusiasm, not view them as damning critiques. When I finished playing Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance, I felt a couple of things. I felt like I’d played a “real” Metal Gear game, which is much to Platinum and Kojipro’s credit. I felt satisfied by the bombastic story, good-natured silliness, and terrific boss design. I felt like my skills had improved vastly over the course of the game. And I felt like I would probably never play it again. I didn’t feel like I’d played a game of the year, unless that year was 2007.

If you like the idea of replaying to unlock every weapon and upgrade, achieve S-rating on all battles on all difficulties, and find all the secrets then more power to you: Revengeance is going to be perfect for you, and it will probably stick in your mind for years as a favourite game. As for me, I’m glad to have enjoyed a ripping yarn with Jack the Ripper, but now I’m moving on with my life. What would the world be like if we were all alike, eh?

Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance is now available in the Europe, the UK and US, and even Australia, thanks to a broken street date.