February 19, 2013
Set four years after Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots in a non-canon story-arc, Raiden is now a cyborg under the employ of PMC Maverick Incorporated dispatched to an African nation slowly recovering after a brutal civil war. However, when a mission to escort Prime Minister N'Mani goes to all hell thanks to an ambush by Desperado Enterprises, Raiden wastes no time gearing up and giving chase.
As soon as this begins you're introduced to Raiden's basic abilities. Learning to parry, holding down the corresponding direction of an attack and tapping square, is a must as it will save you from suffering many calamitous situations, but sadly the mechanics tend to come off as random and unreliable at times. Next, the Ninja Run, holding down R1 as you move, not only allows you to traverse at high speeds, but allows Raiden to auto deflect bullets. Additionally, it grants automatic jumps and slides through hurdles and climbing structures. Cleaving through the small fries of enemy troops easily builds up the belief that there's nothing Desperado has up their sleeves that could possibly give you pause. That is, until they throw the colossal Metal Gear Ray at you. This serves as a test subject of Blade Mode, which is entered while holding down L1. Here, you can use the right analog to line up and issue those signature focused surgical cuts.
After cleaving the behemoth's armor plating and turrets you feel your heart pound against your chest as you grind away the corresponding QTE buttons to stop its pathetic excuse for a giant sword, hurling the bastard up into the skies as Maverick's leader, Boris, shouts over the Codec to "SPLIT IT WIDE OPEN". The excitement climaxes as Raiden runs up along the UG's cutlery, slicing off pieces along the way. With the alternative rock score ascending to vocals, firing off every synapse in your brain, Raiden fast dives with his high definition blade for the coup de grâce in epic slow-mo display, the two halves of the fallen giving way to Raiden's resolve as he makes an uninterrupted descent back to Earth. If you're not screaming "WOOOOO!!!" at your TV during all this you're cold and dead inside, and you probably perform poorly in bed.
But all doesn't go according to plan. Running along a fast moving freight train, Raiden comes face to face with two of Desperado's heinous enforcers - Sundowner, who impales the Prime Minister after toying with him like a 5 year old spaz and jello, and Jetstream Sam, following through with an overwhelming display of higher cybernetic prowess that costs Raiden an eye and an arm. This is the reason for our Revengeance.
Shortly after the incident, Raiden and Maverick scour the globe in search of Desperado and happen upon their plans for global domination with a new army of cybernetic killers. Raiden is now fitted with a new cyber frame enabling him to detect enemy energy cells during Blade Mode, opening the preferred method of killing enemies as snagging their vital juices immediately replenishes life and fuel cells - the latter dictating how long you can remain in Blade Mode.
Raiden also gains access to Augment Mode, fashioned from the same mold as Batman's Detective Vision, allowing him to survey the area for enemies and strategizing your approach. Although there's nothing wrong with going all out and eviscerating every moving thing in sight (and you'll probably find yourself doing so every now and then against Maverick's advice), stealth still plays a part in Revengeance where successfully sneaking up on an enemy allows you to deal instant deaths. This is still favorable over the scenario of being ganged up by hulking machinations. Having the ability to crouch would've been a nice addition but instead The Box is brought back and there are instances where it feels out of place with Revengeance's no-nonsense action.
Each battle won yields BP, the currency needed to upgrade stats and new attacks. And as you crush each of Desperado's big wigs, you earn their signature weapons in Devil May Cry fashion, however only one of them, Mistral's Pole Arm, serves as the most useful as the other stolen arsenal are either awkward or just plain useless. Couple the Pole Arm with the HF Blade and you're good to go, with almost no reason to access grenades or other finite side weapons.
Eventually 'Jack the Ripper' mode gets unlocked in parallel to the plot. Hitting L3 and R3 together with full charged fuel cells turns you into a harbinger of death where each strike deals excruciating damage, enough to quickly make foes susceptible to Blade Mode. This is your lifesaver when things start to look bleak and you need energy cells pronto.
Despite the high cool factor, the plot to Revengeance isn't exactly anything deep but as the story progresses questioning which mindset to adopt begins to accumulate. We all knew that in selecting a name like Revengeance there's going to be a number of things that will place the seriousness factor in question. Remember Demolition Man? The nature of the narrative and the swag moments has Raiden's exploits coming off as a cross between a cheesy '80s action flick with a touch of Japanese Sentai gimmicks. The phrase "My sword is a tool of Justice" gets thrown around, saving the children becomes a priority, and Raiden gains fandom through a little boy who quotes Vanilla Ice's "Go ninja go ninja GO!" It's all good though.
What many may not be prepared for is the final stretch of the game. After enduring the spiking increase in boss battle difficulties, the grand finale will definitely tear into your emotional extremities with peak sensations of frustration, laughter, hype, and determination. It's also at this point that you've come to realize that the game is concise, with only 5-6 hours expired, and as much as you wish that the game was longer there's that underlying agreement that the run was as long as it needed to be. Then you'll shut the hell up and wait through the credits for another go as all the things Revengeance made you feel you don't want it all to go away just yet.
Everyone has that one movie scene or a favorite segment of a song, those momentary bursts that despite never meant to last long they leave impressions that keeps us amped and going. This is Revengeance. What it makes up for in its short stature and meager ending are its never redundant gameplay, epic moments of hype, and the fact you'll find yourself replaying it at least twice a month going forward. Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance is without a doubt the feel-good game of the year.Editor's Choice
Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance was reviewed on the PS3. You can read more about GamingUnion.net's scoring policy here.