It seems almost ridiculous how many terrible omens hung over Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance from conception to completion. A spin-off of a legendarily popular series. A spin-off with a different system of gameplay. A protracted development period, skipping between developers and restarting. A lack of normal commitment from the creative mind behind the series. At the end of the day, it seems remarkable a fact that it even made it to shelves. But, Metal Gear is a series that has never usually been able to be pinned down, and maybe, just maybe, this game will continue that trend.
Revengeance (a title that hints at the tone ahead) stars Raiden, star of MGS 2, and notable for his reappearance in MGS4, where he was totally badass and everyone wanted to be him for once. Now, his moment has come. Set several years after MGS4, war is waged between superhuman cyborg soldiers. Raiden, working for a mercenary force, becomes embroiled in a plot to start a World War after the president of an African nation he was defending is assassinated.
From there, the player travels to an array of interesting locations and must battle with several classically wacky MGS villains. Sadly though, it’s all over far too quickly, as the game has 7 chapters, but chapters 5, 6 and 7 take about 10 or 15 minutes each; adding up to a game about 4 hours long for a single playthrough. There is replayability involved, in terms of leveling up and collecting items and unlocking bonus stages, but for a core game, it’s a very poor show.
However, the issue can be altered slightly by how fun those 4 hours are. The gameplay itself is visceral, over the top, stylish, and a joy to behold. Rarely will you find yourself bored with fighting another wave of enemies, mostly thanks to the Zandatsu system in play, where Raiden’s sword can be used to cut items in slow motion however the player wishes. Nearly all items are destructible, and enemies themselves can be cut into pieces exactly how the player wants. It may be gory, but there are few things like it in terms of fun.
As for plot and characters, I really couldn’t shake the feeling that the game was made by someone who really wanted to be Hideo Kojima, but wasn’t at his level. Characters act in pseudo-Metal Gear way, but it never becomes as interesting or endearing as it is in the main franchise releases. Raiden’s characterization has especially become rather annoying. Most of the time I found myself ignoring dialogue, but that was okay in a way because the music in the background actually ended up being really good; surprisingly fitting the tone very well.
Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance is a game that is fun at its core, but is over too quickly and is weighed down with silliness of the bad kind. I don’t think it’s worth full price, but definitely buy it when it drops down a bit.