Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance Mini-Review

Not going to do one my big breakdowns for this one, but I enjoyed it enough to say some stuff about it. As usual, I’m going to assume you basically know the details about the game, try reading another review or something first to get up to speed. Or play the game, it’s pretty good!

I’m a big fan of Platinum. They’re loaded with talent I like. Hideki Kamiya is a pretty boss mo-fo and Clover never did me wrong (I <3 you, God Hand). I'm also a huge Metal Gear fan -- bigger than my other gaming opinions might apply. So once reviews made it clear that the game had overcome it's production problems and wasn't a trian wreck, it immediately became a 'must buy'.

Bayonetta, but…

I love Bayonetta, full stop. Rising feels like it’s made from Bayonetta’s basic components. Comboing has the same sort of rhythm to it, you execute moves in the same way and overall it has a very similar feel. It even has Dodge Offset on the one dodge move you can unlock.

The big realization in Bayonetta though was that it was a game about defense. The dodge and witch time really influence how the game feels. Dodging has secretly been the core of 3d action games for some time, from Monster Hunter to Dark Souls.

The goal of Rising was clearly to make defense ‘aggressive’. In Bayonetta, you could madly roll around until you got a lucky dodge. In Rising, you must parry in the direction of enemies, so you can’t stall nearly as easily. While I still find parrying to be fairly easy (once you know what the game wants), it is, compared to dodging, very attention and timing intensive. The game is also much more grounded. Raiden lacks even a double jump (which drives me nuts when I see him jump 100 feet in a cutscene but can’t climb a relatively low wall). Raiden is like a truck — he can be very fast and powerful, but he can’t just fly around like crazy, so the game actually ends up playing very grounded. The parry is cool — the game is still technically largely about defense (especially since a perfect parry is one of the few ways to kill enemies in a timely manner. More on that later), but the purposeful act of pushing an opponent’s attack away makes the game feel a lot more aggressive. Even the ‘dodge’ is an attack.

You also have Blade Mode. It’s a cute gimmick but I feel conflicted. The game seems to designed to give excuses to use this system but it rarely gives a good reason to use it. The game wants enemies to die from blade mode. As such, many enemies are unreasonably beefy and almost require a perfect counter to defeat in any reasonable time, making speedy fights a matter of luck, hoping the enmy does the right attacks. This is offset by Jack-the-Ripper mode, which is basically an armor breaking Devil Trigger. The game hits it’s stride when your JTR moding through big enemies only to pop smaller enemies like little energy packs. The pacing is great as long as you don’t slip up. Sadly limb and weapon cutting isn’t terribly interesting. The only interesting application of blade mode outside of bossfights I found in the game is slashing a blocking Broad Sword cyborg to break his guard. It’s not a bad system, but I can’t help but to feel the game is too far balanced toward Zandetsu. The fact that it fills all health and blade mode completely with one grab I think is a concession that Platinum didn’t have enough time to truly balance the system. Their solution is less elegant but very safe and still fun so I can’t complain too much.

Two additional nitpicks. The games secondary weapons are lacking. Most aren’t very good, and the SAIs are oveprowered and boring. This could be salvaged if they could be quickly transitioned between, Devil May Cry style, or if the menus were truly Metal Gear style, but switching is just tedious enough to discourage it in all but a handful of occasions. Atop that, I’m a annoyed that optimal DPS seems to be doing Raiden’s back-foward launcher over and over again. I guess it’s not that big of a deal, since usually it’s not an optimal way to fight groups of enemies, but it’s kinda silly looking where applicable.

Still, combat wise, I feel like Rising almost has the edge on Bayonetta and I hope to see a Revengeance 2 where Platinum can polish this wonderfully aggressive system.

As for the content — some people complain about short games. I love short games. Especially mastery driven games that I can play through over and over again. Once JTR mode is unlocked semi-immediately on NG+, the game flows much better. To salvage the original Rising content in a reasonable time frame, Platinum made a really lean game. Some of the of the visual content gets recycled a lot, but the enemy related challenges keep ramping up appropriately.

Another random note: The music. Oh my god the music. Not the sounds themselves. Most are okay at best (though there are one or two gems), but the manipulation of music so things like the vocals kick in, or the music crescendos when big moments in boss fights happen? That’s AWESOME and I wish more games would do it. The game also uses QTEs quite well. There is a bit of ‘press X not to die’ but it does a great job of legitimately making you feel awesome. Ending a lot of these segments with blade mode also add a deal of expression to the action. I kinda always wanted more ‘analog’ QTEs where the players input influence the action more, even if the results are largely the same. Blade Mode segments after QTEs are close.

The plot is hilarious. It’s like an Arnold Palmer of 50% Metal Gear and 50% DMC. Some of the exchanges have a level of corniness that can only be describes as Devil May Cry. The game is hammy as hell. The only real disappointment is I wish it struck a balance better. Metal Gear is great at taking it’s self seriously, while not taking it’s self TOO seriously. It’ll laugh with you at it’s self, but it never acts like it’s a joke. Rising does. Which is okay. It made me laugh a ton (the last boss says so many amazing lines that he’s basically a walking ball of memes. Monsoon would be proud). Not much to say about the plot. It’s hard to follow and barely matters. There are a few good segments. The Sam sequence where Raiden hears the voices of the cyborgs he’s fighting is pretty cool. It seemed very Metal Gear-y (even down to the soldiers saying the most corny stuff as it happens, just like in MGS3’s The Sorrow sequence). It seems a little oddly misplaced in Rising, but whatever. It’s better there than not there, but I’d love to see more tonal consistency in a sequence.

So basically it’s a pretty great game, but it does show some seams from being a salvaged project. The fact it does so good despite these hardships is a good sign. I hope Platinum is allowed to continue the series.

4 thoughts on “Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance Mini-Review

  1. “Dodging has secretly been the core of 3d action games for some time”

    I like this line because every first person shooter are also secretly about dodging/moving. Really honestly almost every action game ever is actually about moving rather than fighting.

  2. I really wish that were still true about FPS games. Consoles went and sucked the life out of them.

  3. There’s still stuff like Warsaw and stuff though, isn’t there? The genre doesn’t seem to be entirely dead.

  4. I realize this is an ancient post, but this post is what originally convinced me to buy the game a year ago; it was the first 3D beat-’em-up I had ever played, and I couldn’t really get into it. In the intervening year, I played a lot more of this particular genre, fell in love with DMC 3 and 4, and since I had just finished a no continues, no items, Dante Must Die run of 4, I figured I’d give Revengeance another shot to see if it was just relative genre inexperience that caused me to dislike it.

    During this run, I’m finding that I still really dislike the parry mechanic, because it gives so little feedback. If I screw up my direction on a dodge roll and get a jump in a DMC game, I immediately know exactly what I did wrong. Since there’s no blocking in the DMC games outside of Royal Guard (which I basically never use; yes, I know that not using it is suboptimal in 3, but despite the fact that I love those games, I’m certainly not “hardcore” or particularly skilled at either one[I haven’t even bothered learning the enemy-step jump cancel]), when you get hit by an attack, it’s a lot more obvious that “oh, I should have avoided it, or been in an invincible animation”, and the most likely invincible animations (side roll/trickster dodge/stinger and Nero’s equivalent that I can’t remember the name of/devil trigger [also, the jump in 3 and 4 feels like it has a few invincible frames on startup, but I’m not certain?]) aren’t context sensitive in any way. In MGR:R, when I’m trying to parry and I get a slash instead, I have absolutely no idea what went wrong; I don’t know whether I screwed up the timing or the direction, or if what I was doing before the parry is something I can’t cancel into a parry. The result is a game that at a very gut level feels incredibly unresponsive; even if I intellectually know that’s not the case, it still feels bad, at least to me.

    On top of that, the whole “ignore positioning, react to the flash!” method of defense sometimes makes the game feel a bit like one long sequence of QTEs, almost like I’m playing Dragon’s Lair, especially since there’s a lot of attacks that need to be reacted to sooner or later than they look like they should be (Bladewolf’s pounce attack is a particular offender; that move needs to be parried about an hour before it looks like it actually hits).

    There’s several other minor things that also annoy me about the game. I definitely prefer the DMC-style mission structure of “shorter missions, go back to the start when you die” over the MGR:R style of “long missions with checkpoints between every fight”. I hate the stealth bits, although I realize that they were probably a required feature in any game with the “Metal Gear” name. Finally, I think it’s kinda sad that I’ve got all of these cool combos available to me, but 90% of my offense revolves around “put enemy in hitstun -> Zandatsu”, and the rest is on enemies that are too heavy to launch; feels like a big missed opportunity.

    Love the visual style, though, especially in the cutscenes.

    (Also, when’s Brave Earth?)

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