Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance: The Kotaku Review

Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance: The Kotaku Review

They had to make up a word for it. For all the over-the-top cyber-machismo dancing across the screen in this new Metal Gear game. Nothing currently extant in the Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, Eleventh Edition, would do. And the definition? Something like, “the confluence of bionic ninja warriors, near-future war profiteering and giant, quadraped war machines.” Revengeance.

So, is Revengeance a word you should make part of your vocabulary? Yeah, it is.

This Metal Gear game focuses on Raiden, the soulful cyborg warrior who became controversial after debuting as the main playable character in Metal Gear Solid 2. Revengeance happens four years after the events in Metal Gear Solid 4, in a world where the constant churn of global combat is a crucial economic driver like oil, pharmaceuticals or consumer electronics. And Raiden’s part of that, working for a private military corporation called Maverick to protect heads-of-state, kill terrorists from rival PMCs and intervene in coup d’etats.

Even though the spotlight is all his this time, Raiden still doesn’t feel as magnetic as Solid Snake, the world-weary stealth savant most associated with the Metal Gear games. But, then, MGR:R exists on the other end of the Metal Gear spectrum. The game still offers up the series’ trademark philosophising but it’s more cocky and cavalier, not as mournful as on the Snake side of the mythos. Raiden’s adventures take place after Metal Gear 4 and the game references the Sons of the Patriots affair as a turning point with regard to how conflicts are fought. While the game’s war-has-changed future represents the cheapening of human life that disgusted Snake, nobody seems all that bothered by it. Raiden himself treats his own body like a weapon, disposable and replaceable. Cyborgs exist as a secret, more palatable option than UAV drone strikes but one used by PMCs not world governments, so as to dodge any bio-ethical murkiness. Cyborgs don’t get counted in official death tolls either and Raiden himself barely looks human anymore.

Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance

Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance weaves a unique blend of combat and survival to the idiosyncratic pillars of Hideo Kojima’s long-running fictional universe.

Developer: Platinum Games
Platforms: PS3, Xbox 360 (version played)
Released: February 19
Type of game: action/stealth hybrid with political overtones
What I played: played through all of the game’s seven campaign levels in 10 hours and 24 minutes, sampled some of the unlockable VR Missions

Two Things I Liked

  • The tight symbiosis between precision cutting and continued survival — harvesting enemy anatomy as a way instantly refresh health — kept combat from feeling repetitive.
  • I kept playing just to see how crazy the next big set piece would be.

Two Things I Didn’t Like

  • As Raiden, Quinton Flynn’s voiceover work is all over the place — faux-gravelly as a tough guy, annoyingly whiny in the moments where he’s supposed to be more relatable.
  • The last big battle trots out so many bad boss fight cliches that you’ll feel like you’re the butt of a giant joke.

Made-to-Order Back-of-Box Quotes

  • “You wouldn’t think that swordfighting with your feet would be cool. But it is. Oh, it is.” — Evan Narcisse, Kotaku
  • “Raiden, cyborg or no, you really need to look into getting some kind of manicure, mmkay?” — Evan Narcisse, Kotaku

This isn’t the game that’s going to make Raiden an icon though. The voice acting, dialogue and character design that bring him to life don’t resonate with Snake’s philosophical stoicism. Tough as the game tries to make him seem, he still comes across as a whiny weak sister. Lethal as all hell, yes, but annoyingly sullen.

Revengeance is a weird little baby, born of Hideo Kojima’s conceptual sperm and Platinum Studios’ womb. The action game manages to feel in line with both the famous game designer’s self-aware sensibilities and the all-star dev studio’s high-adrenaline combat. In fact, the rip-out-a-spine-and-then-ruminate-about-human-nature proceedings feel like they were hashed out over an epic whisky-and-karaoke binge.

One minute, I was done up in goofy traditional dress or wobbling underneath a metal drum to sneak past enemies. The next, I was in a gruesome processing plant, where brainstems of abducted children were held as raw material for new crops of bionic cannon fodder. The action through the game is bombastic, with set pieces that get more overblown as you go. You’ll run up a barrage of missiles to destroy the helicopter that launched them and hijack flying enemies to escape exploding buildings.

In terms of tone, the pendulum swings from cheesy, so-bad-it’s-good territory to moments of shock horror and exploitation. But I never got whiplash, even as I moved from gleefully beheading fools to debating moral relativism with an archenemy.

It’s the cutting that, paradoxically, holds the whole game together. Glorious cutting that always feels so damn good.

Revengeance rotates around swordplay. Raiden’s main weapon is a fancy future-sword that cuts through just about everything. Like other third-person action games, mixing up light and heavy attacks lets you unleash combos. You’ll have other weapons and tools — more bladed implements missile launchers, decoy lures and electromagnetic pulse grenades — that you can add to your arsenal, too. But the main element here is the ability to angle sword attacks and shred animate and inanimate objects to bits.


In addition to Raiden’s health bar, players will have to manage his fuel cell energy. This resource powers the Blade Mode mechanic, which slows down time and lets you dismember enemies with surgical precision. While in Blade Mode, you can rotate the high-frequency blade to a specific angle using the right stick. This comes in handy when you need to slash more explicitly. For example, if you chop off a bad guy’s left arm, you’ll get data chips that are among the game’s rarer collectibles.

Revengeance ties combat into health management in a clever way. Once you slash an enemy up a certain amount, you can enter Blade Mode to target a select area for dismemberment. Hacking off that limb opens up a zandatsu sequence. It’s a split-second window that exposes a chunk of cyborg tech can restore all your health and fuel cells, provided you snatch it with a super-quick button press.

The zandatsu is Revengeance‘s signature move. Like the active reload in Gears of War, it’s the kind of skill-intensive mechanic that makes you feel great every time you nail it. Associating the zandatsu with continued health adds just the right amount of compulsion, too. It makes you think about how you cut and why. Revengeance offers the chance to feel lethally inventive in how you dispatch enemies.

The option to freely slice with the right stick made me feel like a sushi chef, cutting with the grain — or is it against? I forget — to get the most succulent part of a fresh fish. Miss the moment for a zandatsu and you’ll curse yourself, especially if it’s the only chance you get for more health during a gnarly boss fight. There’s a bloodthirstiness to it all, yes, but one that lives in fleeting split-seconds and feels oddly joyous. Killing waves of bad guys in a video game has rarely felt this artistic. And as this is a Metal Gear game, stealth is present. But, since the game is so combat-centric, it’s offered mostly as an option, not a mandate.

But Revengeance‘s tempered cyber-steel does have flaws. The game does a poor job of teaching you how to play it. Even when I knew what I had to do in an early boss fight, I still couldn’t execute the parries that I needed to break down the enemy’s defence. And I had to stumble onto basic elements like defence and health management. Crucial bits of info get mentioned in passing or get buried inside sub-menus where you don’t really need to go, as in the case of the game’s save-anywhere function. Some of these things get spelled out in the VR missions you discover while playing, but that’s a really ass-backwards way of revealing a game’s systems.

While a few levels dazzle with their use of colour and layout, most of the game happens in sewer/warehouse/military base environments that are hoary clichés. I also found myself wishing for a quicker way to switch between secondary weapons. Worst of all, the game climaxes with a truly aggravating boss fight that left me wondering what it was supposed to represent. The nigh-invincible status quo of the military industrial complex? A strained justification for the continuance of multi-tiered final battles? It doesn’t matter what Platinum wanted me to take away because all I felt was annoyed.

But, overall, the game’s edge is sharp. It still hits the marks of what a Metal Gear game should be about, but inverts the combat and stealth. You’re encouraged to slash instead of sneak. Rambling codec conversations and overly verbose cutscenes are waiting there for the Kojima faithful too. The experience takes moments from samurai legend — where wild slashing and/or icy precision win the day — and updates them in a setting where technology renders the human body almost obsolete. Short as it is, the newest Metal Gear mixes old and new elements up in winning fashion, proving that the series may be more adaptable than anyone ever thought.


  • This game has poor production values. The main game can be finished in under 5 hours.

    Also the biggest flaw in this game is that the attack button is also the block button. So if you constantly mash any attack button, you will also block and end up blocking 99% of the attacks and be invincible. Blocking automatically takes priority over attack so you don’t have to worry about getting hit. The remaining 1% are simply power charge attacks from boss fights or AoE attack which you can’t block.

    The additional sub weapons – there are 3 of them and only 1 of them is useful the Pole(first one you unlock). The others are utterly useless as they attack too slow and can never be used in boss fights practically.

    The level design is horrible and bland. Compare vs Dmc.

    Horrible cheap cutscenes and cheesy as dialog.

    Final boss fight in the game is retarded I died 10+ times trying to figure out the Japanese scripted sequence on how to defeat him.

    Honestly 4 / 10.

    • Holy shit. Attack is block? UGH. Welcome to one button combat. Not in a good Arkham Asylum/City way either.

      When I heard the campaign is under 5 hours, there’s even reports of people finishing this in 4, this gives the game an automatic F from me. Why? It’s a game designed as a single player experience. In that case, the single player campaign should be at LEAST double that length. At LEAST. Triple if it’s got any decency about it. But 4 – 5 hours? That’s a fucking joke.

        • A tiny bit better I guess but still not great. A dedicated block button will usually be a superior option. Either way, the most important part here is not that, it’s the campaign length to me.

          • So campaign length is just an arbitrary rule for you? It doesn’t matter what it is, game length is paramount. Why? Because you think you deserve it? Because you have highly strung values on what your toys do? This is why developers don’t get creative. You have these immovable “values” held by keyboard warriors who trash everything whenever they get a chance. Want an ambiguous ending? No, someone will sue you. Make an amazing game with a pace and length that suits the story and gameplay but no. Auto F because your creativity isn’t worth it to this guys.

            I’m a hypocrite though, i once yelled at a librarian for giving me a book that had less than 200 pages in it and i ruined Skyfall for everyone in the theatre when it wasn’t a full three hours like my friend told me.

          • I expect a game not to finish before it’s started. I like to get some worth from my game. A company creates a game yes. But you know what, a company creates a game to be put out there to be PURCHASED BY THE PEOPLE. They create a product because THEY WANT IT TO BE BOUGHT. They do not instantly have the RIGHT to have this product bought. They are creating this product, putting it out there and saying ‘Here, PLEASE buy it? Please?’ I am not instantly BOUND to purchase this. I must be swayed to purchase. The VALUE must be there. There must be quality there. There is no quality there in a subpar length game. The gameplay may be good, but that is only one factor in the whole package. When the level design is not great, when the campaign length is not whole, when the game design is not up to scratch, when the whole package is in essence incomplete? When the variety is not there, when the replay value is not there, what right do they have to charge full price? Your highly arrogant and self serving post only goes to enforce this idea. If I’m paying premium price for a game, I like to get premium value for it. Ninja Gaiden for example had a great length to it, great value too. Devil May Cry sits at a good length for a campaign. Hell, even the subpar NG2 has a good length for a campaign. Bayonetta as well. A game that has four to six hours for a campaign length these days, is a joke. Unfortunately these days in an ADHD society, people are being slowly trained to believe that this is acceptable. It’s not. Not every game has to be 100+ hours like Skyrim is. However not every game should be 4 hours like Homefront was either.

            Pull your head out of your ass.

          • I’m with you weresmuf. Although i take it further – my general rule for value is that I should be able to sepnd atleast 1 hour with a game for every dollar I spent with it. That isn’t to say though that i wan’t padding etc because if the game becomes boring I won’t end up spending the time.

            Via discerning pruchasing I am generally able to achieve this return on investment. Some games obviously can well exceed that (I can think of a JRPG I picked up for $40, and spent 80 hours with, for instance). there are a few choice games that i enjoyed so much that I didn’t mind that perhaps time was much less than the cost.

            however, 4 hrs, 5 hrs etc? I wouldn’t buy a game like that unless we are talking about an indie cheapie on steam!

          • I factor in replay value there. Ninja Gaiden took us around 12 hours from start to finish to complete. But the amount of times we’ve gone back to just play an individual stage, or fight a boss or even play it through on a speed run… or whatever… is phenomenal. Replay value is very important. Value does indeed come in there. But stages need to have a decent length too and there needs to be enough of a variety of them too. Homefront for instance had a couple of memorable stages. The stadium, the farm and the sanfrancisco bridge. Unfortunately I just named 80% of the whole game… so yes replay value is important but like I said, game length very much is.

  • LOL this is by far the 2nd worst review of the game yet. Go back to DmC and stop bitching just because MGR doesn’t hold your hand. Whimps.

    • I wish we could all be as cool as you zombieface777, I wish we could all be happy to settle for mediocrity in gaming and an inability to spell correctly.

  • I’ve always been a fan of the MGS series, but I haven’t been interested in this one from day one. I took a look at it’s quick play from the guys over at, and the game looked extremely boring. Yeah, some of the cutscenes look good (if over the top), but that’s pretty much a given. The gameplay looks mind numbingly boring though.

  • Do people these days just care only about the length of the game. ET has longer campaign, u are most welcome to play that. most gamers don’t consider replayability as a factor today. they i think its worth $60 if u can play the same cardboard cutout missions over and over again for 100 hours.

  • I said back at the Platinum Games announcement that this would be a weekend rental/bargain bin game for me, and this review hasn’t changed that. Neither has the ‘5-hour campaign’ news.

  • Trust me guys don’t get it. I guess my expectations are pretty damn high.

    Anyone remember tekken 3 force mode? The graphics and level design + ai of enemies reminds of that is present in metal gear rising revengeance.

    The only game I’m looking forward to is Star Citizen (PC). I enjoyed Freelancer.

    I’ve heard crysis 3 was also terrible.

    Diablo 3 was a disappointment as with sc2(to a lesser extent).

    I haven’t played a good game in like 8-10 years. Jesus Christ.

    • If you still ignore my advice, just remember the guy who warned you about how shitty the game is. You will experience for your first time a super budget game which feels so unpolished in every aspect with no replayability – Lol VR mission fail. Remember me ‘bob lee’, I should deserve some credit here.

      The kotaku review makes it sound like its something worth trying out. Very deceptive and ambiguous.

      trust me avoid it like the plague.

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