Wednesday, 29 January 2014

Review: Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance (PC)

The whack-a-doodle nonsense of the Metal Gear universe is delivered by Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance. Within the first 30 or 45 minutes, cyborg protagonist Raiden guts a towering Metal Gear then "befriends" a (sadly underutilized) robot dog. Why? There's something about child soldiers, private military contractors, Raiden's past life as "Jack the Ripper" and in all likelihood a Ronco product that slices, dices, and minces.

There are some interesting themes at the core of Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance, but they're cloaked in missile-dodging cyborgs, weird stereotypes, and a monologuing red-eyed Cyclops that's very good at balling together tanks and rolling them at Raiden in the strangest bowling match ever.

It's the kind of game that makes a specific nod to Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, then has Raiden shaking information out of a would-be child soldier that only just recently escaped a horrible situation. I suppose, it all makes sense. You'd do the same thing if you were tracking down brains.

Actual brains. More specifically, the brains pulled from orphans that are being "programmed" to be perfect killing machines.


Developer Platinum Games knows all about nonsense. After all they put together Bayonetta and Vanquish, so letting them wade into the Metal Gear universe is like... well, it's brilliant.

But what Revengeance is all about is the combat. There are nods to less lethal (i.e. stealth) or projectile approaches such as the ability to hide in a cardboard box or launch homing missiles, but in a game where incoming missiles are literally stepping stones to a target it's mostly about getting within striking distance and laying down enough hurt to slash opponents into bits, flip into the air, grab their glowing innards and absorb their "souls."

There's the occasional necessity of parrying an attack but that just becomes part of a combo string. With some minor upgrading those combos can be pretty fun to watch. And damaging!

It was the combos themselves that actually managed to break my reliance on button-mashing, which is my go-to strategy for most action games like this. The more successful hits made, the faster Raiden builds up the ability to unleash Blade Mode, where time slows to a crawl and specific body parts can be targeted for "separation." It adds some interesting choices during the flow of combat, which amounts to moving from arena to arena with cinematic and codec communication interruptions to connect those arenas together.

There are collectibles scattered throughout, like VR missions, but the main draw for Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance is the entertaining whackiness of the whole thing, including the so-far-over-the-top-it-hits-the-moon violence. For that alone, you get your money's worth.

- Aaron Simmer

The Good:
- The Metal Gear universe is nuts
- Combat feels really good

The Bad:
- Sadly underutilized robot dog sidekick
- Levels broken into arenas with not much happening in-between

Score: 8.0 / 10