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'Revengeance' - 10,000 cuts and counting

Feb 26, 2013

By Daniel Barron - G4 Canada

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Metal Gear  Rising: RevengeanceIt may not seem like it on the surface, but "Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance" is a huge gamble for developer Platinum Games and publisher Konami. In today's gun-obsessed video game world, "Revengeance" and its focus on swordplay may be rough around the edges, but it's thoroughly refreshing - and plenty entertaining - all the same.

By the end of my first playthrough, I had amassed over 10,000 total cuts. My blade sliced through everything from gekkos (the Metal Gear mechs, not the lizards), to load-bearing poles, to countless cyborgs. And yes, even fruit. As effective as my blade was, though, any object that wasn't inanimate would still put up a heck of a fight.

So yes, Revengeance does have a steep learning curve, and you can bet you won't suddenly be a sword master after playing a few tutorial levels. Sure, you can slice and dice the first few enemies on normal difficulty by mashing a couple of buttons, but it's not long before you're standing in front of a massive Metal Gear RAY robot. You're quickly thrown into the fire and forced to learn the ins and outs of blade mode, ninja run, combos, and several other features at your disposal.

Although Platinum Games is credited as the developer, the inspiration from Metal Gear series creator Hideo Kojima is on full display here. First and foremost, Revengeance is extremely cinematic. The cut scenes aren't quite as lengthy as something from the Metal Gear Solid series, but they're still long enough to justify the inclusion of "pause" and "skip" functions, similar to Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots.

Metal Gear  Rising: Revengeance Although the action in Revengeance makes The Expendables movies look like Saturday morning kids programs, there are all sorts of political themes here. The best part is, Kojima seems to have reigned himself in in this department, as the plot isn't nearly as convoluted as games in the Metal Gear Solid series.

Essentially, cyborgs have managed to keep some semblance of peace around the world, and certain people who rely on war to keep their bank accounts well-fed are doing everything in their power to give war a chance, so to speak. Protagonist Raiden, himself a cyborg, quickly learns that his noble practices aren't going to cut it - pun intended - if he's going to stop the bad guys who are hell-bent on turning nations against each other.

The film references abound - everything from tumbleweed blowing past right before a man-to-man battle, to a Sherlock Holmes quote, to even a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles "go ninja go" line being uttered. The subject matter in the game is serious, but humour - legitimate, laugh-out-loud moments - abounds.

Ah, but what about the gameplay? While Revengeance often fires on all cylinders, making it one of the most amped-up and balls-to-the-wall action games to be released in years, it also shoehorns in the stealth that helped make the Metal Gear Solid series so famous. It simply doesn't work.

Metal Gear  Rising: Revengeance The first level makes it painfully clear that Raiden is capable of some wicked, awe-inspiring moves, and the combat is front and centre from the get-go. It's not long, though, before the player is given options to sneak up on enemies. The alerts from Metal Gear Solid are back, so if even one enemy sees you, a barrier pops up around your vicinity, and every baddie near you comes at you full steam ahead.

I don't understand why the stealth is included, quite honestly. Over the course of the game, the player is taught combos, he or she can earn upgrades for ever-more-devastating moves, and Raiden's sword is more a tool of destruction than an implement for pacifism, despite how the cyborg talks at the beginning of the game.

The stealth just isn't as fun, and it's not realistic to boot, showing off the game's sometimes-iffy AI. You can sneak up on an enemy and eviscerate him as you fly through the air - quite loudly - with blood spewing all over the place, but if his buddy five feet to the left isn't looking in your direction when that happens, you'll be on your merry way to the next poor soul, with everyone none-the-wiser.

Not only that, but once you are discovered, there are times where you'll be able to run behind a nearby car or under a box, and enemies will forget you ever existed. The aforementioned barrier goes away, and you'll have another chance at sneaking through the section, like nothing ever happened.

The stealth gameplay does open up new possibilities for players, but considering Platinum is known for its lineup of superb action titles, Revengeance would be downright spectacular without shoving in the sneaking stuff.

Metal Gear  Rising: Revengeance The boss battles have also been a staple of the Metal Gear series, and while some end-level enemies are much stronger than others, they're all quite memorable. They're rarely easy enough to beat on the first attempt, although it would be unfair to describe them as cheap. It's always tempting to default to hacking and slashing, but most bosses will quickly put you in your place when you do that. If you don't learn how to parry and control your slow-motion blade mode in Revengeance, you may as well put your controller down before even starting - or at least opt for the easy difficulty.

The upgrade system gives makes for even more reason to kill with style and skill, because every time you defeat a group of enemies, you're ranked on various aspects of your performance, such as speed and combos. The higher the rank, the more Battle Points, or "BP" you earn. This can then be spent on things like new moves, increased power bars, and alternate costumes.

My only complaint here is that if you want to customize in the middle of the game, you'll be taken back to the last checkpoint, which seems kind of odd. Granted, the checkpoints are for the most part generously placed over the course of the campaign, but it does feel like a strange design choice.

The campaign itself isn't terribly lengthy - I completed it in almost exactly seven hours - but there is more for content for players to dig into - namely, VR missions. These bite-sized quests are set in a virtual reality world where the player is tasked with completing certain objectives, whether it's defeating a certain amount of enemies, sneaking to a goal without being detected, or simply getting to the end of the level without getting killed.

Metal Gear  Rising: Revengeance These are great for completionists who want to get a gold medal in each mission, but they aren't terribly creative. Not only that, the missions can only be unlocked by finding hidden computers distributed throughout the campaign levels. If you're not one for scouring levels in between the almost non-stop action-packed sequences, don't expect to have access to many of these extra missions.

The meat of Revengeance is top-notch, and this could have been a very early contender for game of the year, but not everything ends up working together successfully. Taken as a whole, this game sets itself apart from many other AAA titles that have been released recently, and for that very reason it should be commended. It's the creators' stubborn insistence to carry over certain things from the Metal Gear Solid series that causes Revengeance to occasionally falter.

 

Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance
Format: Playstation 3
Publisher: Konami
Developer: Platinum Games Inc.
ESRB Rating: M for Mature 17+
Official Site: http://www.konami.jp/mgr/

Rating: 7.5 / 10

 
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