Okay, I know I promised I would do all the Metal Gear games in chronological order. But I just couldn’t wait to play this one! With the massive resurgence this game has had online in the last few months, can you blame me?!
Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance is a Metal Gear name in name only. Rather than slow-paced, methodical stealth gameplay, we get one of the most fast-paced, intense, and ridiculous action games ever made! The whole thing is absolutely insane, so much so that it would ruin any other game. But MGR embraces its insanity and goes all the way, making it one of the most charming and delightful video games I’ve ever played!
Taking place after the events of Metal Gear Solid 4, Rising stars our cyborg hero, Raiden. While on the job as a bodyguard, his client is assassinated and Raiden is chopped apart by a Brazilian samurai. Now, after kitting himself out with a new body, it’s up to Raiden to find the organization responsible and get his Revengeance.
That summary doesn’t do justice to how absurd this game is. I didn’t even mention the dude who has a whole monologue about memes (I am not joking) or that the plan of the main villain is to steal the brains of children, legally export them to America, make them into cyborgs, then sell those cyborgs to fight a war which the villain himself started, or the fact that you fucking throw a giant robot over your shoulder in the tutorial level. Every inch of this game is completely absurd.
In any other game, that would be a problem. But Metal Gear Rising doesn’t take itself too seriously. You can tell that the game’s writers are in on the joke and that they’re loving every minute of it. And they deliver on everything with such conviction that it becomes a genuine treat! Rather than being cringe-inducing, it’s silly and badass!
I wish I could say the same for the cast. Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of extremely memorable faces; Jetstream Sam is amazing, Monsoon is hysterical, and Senator Armstrong is genuinely one of the best and most memorable video game bosses ever (motherfucker straight-up did ‘Make America Great Again’ before real life did)! But Raiden’s supporting cast is fairly bland and forgettable. The only one that stands out in any way is Doktor, as he’s goofy enough to fit the rest of the game. Everyone else is just kinda there and they talk at you for a while.
I do love seeing grown-up Sunny, though. As an MGS4 apologist, that just makes me happy.
Graphically speaking, this game has aged surprisingly well. All of the character models are still surprisingly detailed and still move fairly well. Most of the environments are the same way. Sure, there are a few rough edges, like all of the vehicle models and some of the background characters.
My biggest issue was with the framerate. Playing on PC, I suffered from a consistently choppy framerate, even on max settings, to the point where the game was borderline unplayable! I had to download a mod just to smooth it out. It ran perfectly afterwards, but the fact that I had to go through that trouble is a point against it.
Now, let’s talk music. The MGR soundtrack is downright iconic at this point. It’s hardcore rock in every sense of it, with insane, adrenaline-pumping tracks like ‘Rules of Nature’, ‘The Only Thing I Know For Real’, ‘Red Sun’, and of course: ‘It Has to Be This Way’. They’re all over-the-top, sometimes to the point of being cheesy.
And you know what? I fucking love it!
Besides, as goofy as the OST can be, it is a bit smarter than some people may give it credit for. The lyrics aren’t just random nonsense; they each give subtle, cryptic insight into the character that the writers didn’t have time for. Blade Wolf’s boss theme, for example, is all about how the robotic hound feels trapped and unsatisfied, so he howls for freedom and independence. Yes, the music is over-the-top and it can be silly. But there is actual thought put behind each song.
Now, let’s talk gameplay. At its core, MGR is a character action game, much like Devil May Cry or Bayonetta. Each level, you’ll need to slice and dice your way through armed guards, robots, and Metal Gears in order to reach the next boss so you can slice and dice your way through them. Rinse and repeat until the game is over.
Simple, right? Well, there are two basic mechanics that help MGR stand out in the genre. The first is the free-form slicing. The second is the Parry mechanic.
The slicing is the biggest feature of the game. Hold the left trigger and go wild on the right stick and you can reduce anything in your path to a pile of polygons. Cut the enemies in the right spot and you’ll instantly restore your energy and HP. Being able to reduce any and every enemy in the game to a bloody paste after defeating them is just so damn satisfying!
Next is parrying. See, Raiden doesn’t have a dodge button. If an attack is coming at you, you’ve got to hold the left stick towards your attacker and hit the light attack button at just the right moment to execute a counter move. This mechanic can be a bit trickier to figure out, especially when the enemy is hitting you with a long string of attacks (fucking Monsoon), but once you’ve got it down, you’ll feel like an unstoppable badass!
Now, as fun as the core gameplay is, it does have a few issues. It makes a few attempts at stealth gameplay, but it’s clunky and slow and annoying and you should just go in guns blazing. Some of the later levels are pretty sad; one of them is just another level again, but backwards this time, and the last level is just three rooms.
The side weapons aren’t particularly interesting or useful. The spear you get from Minstral is pretty fun, but that’s about it. Monsoon’s sai isn’t all that fun or memorable, and Sundowner’s scissors are strong, but too slow to be really useful. You’d be better off just sticking to Raiden’s sword.
Also, that fucking gorilla robot is the worst and I hate it.
Still, all those issues are small and plenty forgivable. The core gameplay is just so damn fun and the boss fights are some of the best in video games. It ain’t a perfect game, but it’s still damn enjoyable.
Even if you have zero familiarity with Metal Gear as a series, you should give Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance a shot. It’s ridiculous, it’s over-the-top, and it is an absolute delight! This is one of the best games ever, without a doubt!
Alright, now we can get back to the actual Metal Gear games.