Time Played: Approximately 12 Hours
We Received a Review Copy of this game.
Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance is perhaps one of the most frustrating experience I have had with a video game in an extremely long time. It’s also one of the most rewarding experiences, which makes a review of the game highly problematic. The latest installment in the Metal Gear series is also the first Metal Gear game I’ve played since the very first outing of Solid Snake on the NES. I’ve kept up a general awareness of the series for years, though I had to do quite a bit of reading before my review copy showed up so that I could have some context for the main character of the game, Raiden.
This game, unlike other Metal Gear installments, is not primarily focused on stealth. Instead, Raiden, the cyborg Ninja who starred in Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty, takes center stage to slice his way through wave after wave of cyborg enhanced soldiers and UG’s (unmanned gears, think robots with guns). The combat had a rather steep learning curve, but really sings when you get it all down.
The game is difficult; far more difficult if you’re not used to the kind of technical combat that Metal gear Rising: Revengeance requires. Simply mashing buttons will only get you so far before you learn that you really do have to block, side-step, and counterattack to stay alive. Boss fights are often infuriating because they do not make clear what you have to do to overcome the many multi-stage encounters. All of this becomes much easier, however, when you start to do some exploring in your inventory and your options in the game. There are tutorials for different abilities, like the ninja slicing mode and using secondary weapons. However, because the game does not require you to know these things until boss fights, they can seem rather ancillary until they become direly needed.
One of the other elements that makes the game less fist-poundingly maddening is the ability to go back and replay earlier missions with all of your upgrades. As you play through the game, you acquire Battle Points that you can spend on making Raiden tougher, stronger, and stranger. Early on you earn enough Battle Points to buy everything that’s available to you, but this quickly changes so that later in the game you really do need to go back and grind out a few replays to make sure you’re strong enough to face the bosses.
This is the secret to the game: Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance is maddeningly hard only while you are pushing the outer limits of what your character can do. Once you’ve settled in, upgraded your weapons so that you can slice your way through an enemy in ten seconds that used to take you five minutes, you really feel the power of the character.
The story is heavy-handedly philosophical and political. In a world of games that try to ignore philosophy and politics, even this is very welcome. Metal Gear games are known for their rather silly elements, and their current topics based narratives. MGR:R tackles human trafficking, abused children, child soldiers, the war economy and more…all in about 5 to 8 hours of game play.
The greatest test for me as to how I really feel about the game comes down to the fact that at 4AM, while not fully awake, I thought I would start a new game plus. There really isn’t such a thing, and I missed the warning that told me I was wiping out all of my character progression. Twelve hours of play down the tube. As I look at my lost game data, I feel compelled to go back in and start again. This is saying something for one of the most frustrating games I’ve played recently. It says that Metal Gear Rising Revengeance is better than its frustrating elements, and it makes you feel as if you’ve really earned your victories. After fighting my way through the last insane boss, I know my way around the game, and that’s worth the twelve hours. Hopefully someone else can learn from my mistakes, I know that I have.