The Metal Gear games built an army of fans with a combo of stealth and intricate storytelling, but they’ve never been known for pulse-quickening action. Until now. Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance is an awkwardly named spin-off created by the team behind the hack-and-slash favourite Bayonetta, and it promises to bring fast and furious swordplay to the war-torn world of the series.
Metal Gear games have a rep for lengthy and often incomprehensible cutscenes, but Revengeance trims the usual excess to offer a pithier, more digestible tale. The gist is this: private militaries are getting rich by terrorising the world with cyborgs and AI war machines so the player’s character, the cyborg ninja Raiden, is out to enforce peace with the aid of a hi-tech sword. There are moments only Metal Gear fans will get and the dialogue sometimes gets too preachy for its own good. but overall this is a game that favours action over exposition.
Revengeance is a simple hack and slash game at heart. Raiden advances from one location to another dicing up enemies as he goes. Most of his opponents are uninspiring cyborg grunts, but the game compensates for them with a range of downright bonkers killer robots and bosses. Enemies like a metal wolf with a vicious chainsaw tail and an interest in philosophy. Like we said; bonkers.
High frequency sword
Revengeance’s big twist on hack ‘em up tradition is to let players control the angle at which Raiden can slash enemies and objects using his ‘high-frequency’ sword. On paper this sounds like a fantastic idea, promising to give players the ability to slice and dice villains with all the precision of a psychotic sushi chef. But in practice it’s more a fun gimmick than a game changer.
Slashing away with a hi-tech blade isn’t all Raiden can do, though. As the game progresses, Raiden’s abilities and weapons can be upgraded to make him more deadly. These enhancements add new layers of depth to the initially rather simplistic combat, making the experience more satisfying over time. Raiden can also carry secondary weapons like rocket launchers but, irritatingly, the game repeatedly blocks their use without warning to ensure that certain enemies are dispatched in pre-set ways.
Revengeance doesn’t abandon Metal Gear’s stealth roots entirely. Players can use radar and infrared vision to sneak past enemies unseen or, at the very least, creep up on them to inflict an instant kill. The stealth rarely takes centre stage but its presence does stop a sense of repetitiveness creeping into the game, which is particularly helpful during later stages when the supply of new types of enemy starts to dry up.
Most of the time Revengeance delivers good-looking, fun swordplay but it does drop the ball at times. The in-game camera could be much better: it too often leaves players unable to see (and therefore block) attacking enemies, and the game is a little bit on the short side, too. Then there’s the baffling save game option, which is disguised as an option for Raiden to have a video chat with a colleague and usually entails wading through lengthy chats when all you want to do is save.
Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance doesn’t quite hit the hack ‘em up highs of the excellent DmC Devil May Cry, but it’s a classy and intelligent action game that offers a refreshing spin on the Metal Gear series.
[Reviewed on PlayStation 3]