11 Years Later, The Most Memeworthy Metal Gear Game Still Holds Up

11 Years Later, The Most Memeworthy Metal Gear Game Still Holds Up

2013 was a great year for games, with groundbreaking titles that pushed the medium forward and helped define an era. There was the post-apocalyptic narrative adventure The Last of Us, which spawned a huge sequel and a hit TV show. There were exciting sequels, like the pirate RPG Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag, and the massive crime sim Grand Theft Auto V. Lara Croft got a gritty origin story in the emotionally visceral Tomb Raider reboot and the gut-wrenching puzzler Papers, Please dug into the complicated challenges and choices of immigration inspectors. There were tons of games to enjoy that year, but the one I remember most is Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance, the most batshit and memeable game in the long-running espionage franchise.

Released on February 19, 2013 and developed by action game masters PlatinumGames (series creator Hideo Kojima was only an executive producer on this game, which is of note), Revengeance is absurdly hilarious. It takes place four years after the moody MGS 4: Guns of the Patriots, with the silver-haired, robo-ninja Raiden hunting down several administrative ops hellbent on profiting off of a government-manufactured war. In a tight, seven-hour campaign, Revengeance serves intrigue, philosophical quandaries, and satire against an exhilarating backdrop of cybernetic combat and gigantic explosions not unlike a Transformers film. And you should totally play it in 2024.

A crunchy, fast-paced MGS story

Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance starts at a 10 and somehow ratchets up the action and intensity before we even get the opening credits. Raiden hackscyborgs in half and cuts through a colossal Metal Gearwhile a roaring rock song soundtracks the exorbitant destruction. This is a game dripping with style, exemplified by the second boss fight that comes just 20 minutes in: a samurai showdown between Raiden and the Brazilian swordsman Samuel “Jetstream Sam” Rodrigues. This opening half-hour is only the start of the absurdity.

Image: Konami / PlatinumGames

Aside from its wild story, Revengeance is a frenetic joy to play thanks to its focus on hyper-aggressiveness.Revengeance really leans into the protag’s bloodthirsty disposition with its gameplay systems. Combos are far simpler here than in other PlatinumGames titles, composed of easy button commands to execute flashy attacks, which makes Revengeance more approachable than other character action titles. You’re still graded in the traditional PlatinumGames way (based on how you kill), but the game’s lenient ranking system rewards your aggressiveness far more than your combo prowess. It’s all about relentless violence, and that’s illustrated throughBlade Mode, a core combat system that slows down time so Raiden can X-ACTO knife his way through anything and everything with precision cuts. By making offense the best—and only—defense, the game wants you to kill it all: pathetic enemies, irritating bosses, that one building that looked at you funny. All of it. Because, as one character says, “War is just part of who we are. Why fight it?”

Memes, the DNA of Revengeance’s soul

That’s the other thing about Revengeance: it’s so damn memeable! Most of the game is centered around a war that a handful of folks spun up and profited from, but when characters say things like they miss “the good ol’ days after 9-11,” you know that you’re in for a ridiculous experience. The memeable moments are a near-constant, from cyborg ninja Monsoon contextualizing the academic concept of memes before getting sliced-and-diced, to the cyborg mercenary Sundowner exclaiming he’s “fucking invisible” before getting cut to pieces and the cavalcade of images depicting Jetstream Sam thinking about something like eating a rod of plutonium or dipping his balls in sulfuric acid. Revengeance has style, for sure, and in that style is a smorgasbord of memeable lines and quotable moments that have truly stood the test of time.

Image: PlatinumGames / Konami

Then there’s the final boss fight with the fictional Colorado state senator and presidential hopeful Steven Armstrong, a man so pompous he’d give Donald Trump a run for his money. Built like a damn linebacker, Armstrong talks your ear off for minutes on end about how war is great for the economy before hopping into a Metal Gear to start the battle’s first phase. It’s not until the second phase, though, that Armstrong spits some of Revengeance’s most absurd lines. “Don’t fuck with this Senator!” “The weak will be purged, and the strongest will thrive—free to live as they see fit, they’ll make America great again!” “Well, I don’t write my own speeches.” “Nanomachines, son.”

Revengeance is full of this silly shit, and it gets better with each play through. The memes were a large part of why the game saw a resurgence in May 2022, and I’m hoping 2024 will bring it back once more. 11 years ago, Konami partnered with PlatinumGames to release something that turned the ever-serious Metal Gear Solid franchise on its head. Revengeance was nearly killed off during production, but thankfully it wasn’t, and whatever internal strife occurred in the midst of development managed to produce a memorable, hilarious, blast of a game. If you happened to miss Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance when it first came out, do yourself a favor and give it a try now.

Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance is available on PC and Xbox Series X/S via backward compatibility.

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