Genre: Action Developer: Platinum Games Publisher: Konami Classification: MA15+ Release Date: 26th Feb 2013 Platforms:
Average of 1 Rating
Login to submit your review score
If you havenít already, you should disavow yourself of the notion that Revengeance plays anything like a traditional Metal Gear game. Elements carry over from Kojimaís brainchild, and there are some sections of the campaign that you can sneak through using the classic MGS Cardboard Box if you so desire, but for the most part Revengeance is about cutting a lot of guys into tiny pieces.
This is a straight-up action game, a typical Platinum Games production full of intense combat and ludicrous bombast. Metal Gear fans are not, strictly, the intended audience Ė this one is for fans of Bayonetta and Devil May Cry. If youíre largely unfamiliar with Metal Gear lore (as I am), you wonít feel as though youíve missed anything too significant, beyond perhaps the arc of Raidenís transformation into a cybernetic badass.
The combat system seems, at first, a tad simple. Youíve got a fast attack and a strong attack, a Ďbladeí mode that you can enter for up-close precision slicing-and-dicing, and the various combos you can perform by combining these inputs on the ground and in the air (which arenít specifically outlined, and which vary depending on which weapons you equip throughout the campaign, but are a lot of fun to discover). Itís a simple system, complicated somewhat by the complete absence of a traditional block button Ė instead, youíll have to either avoid enemy attacks, or get in close and parry them.
The logistics of the parry arenít made as clear in-game as they could be, but essentially once an opponent shows their tell Ė generally indicated by a red or yellow flash Ė pressing towards them and tapping the light attack button brings Raidenís sword up to block their attack. In theory, this sounds simple, but in practice it can prove tricky. If youíre caught up in a combo, push in the wrong direction, or simply get the input wrong in the heat of the moment (which can happen, since the input required is so close to whatís required for a light attack), Raiden is left wide open, which can be especially frustrating when he gets hit by a move that stuns him (the sooner developers realise that no one likes shaking a stick back and forth like a maniac to recover from a stun, the better). For super-experienced action gamers, this might not be a problem, but to me it felt a tad restrictive, and not quite in line with the persona the game develops for Raiden.
Truthfully, on Ďnormalí difficulty, you can basically get away without knowing how to parry properly until the later boss fights. Experienced players will want to jump straight on to ĎHardí (and then take on the two difficulties above it that unlock), while the rest of us are more than happy contending, at least for now, with the crazy difficulty spikes the game throws up whenever a boss shows their face. Structurally, itís an odd game Ė the first two thirds or so follow a standard pattern of throwing enemies at you and intermittently giving you a boss to fight, but at some point it turns into a game almost exclusively focused on boss fights, bar a few very brief sections that youíre encouraged to sneak through.
It feels a little rushed, but this approach makes sense, because the boss battles are the highlight of the game. Thatís not to say that the regular combat sections arenít enjoyable, they simply lack some of the inventiveness we usually like to see from Platinum. While Bayonetta went all-out with its numerous action sequences and wasnít afraid to switch things up constantly, Revengeance is filled with simple sprints, quick time events, and cutscenes that depict events youíll yearn to play through yourself. From what Iíve heard, Kojima Productions discouraged some of the wackier ideas that were originally included, but we canít help but wish that there was some more variation. When Raiden hijacks a motorbike at the end of one chapter, I excitedly realised that there was no better developer for handling a brief chopper-based action segue, but it simply doesnít happen.
I rarely had trouble battling regular enemies on the default difficulty, and once Iíd unlocked a few upgrades and extra weapons (which are bought with battle points that you earn for fighting well) I was frequently able to carve through them with an appropriate but slightly tedious balletic ease. The combat looks beautiful, but itís vastly simplified on the numerous systems at work in Bayonetta (although like that game one combo ends in your breakdancing, which is always fun). There just isnít enough enemy variety, little need to constantly change tactics: often the camera will prove your worst enemy, as it often fails to keep up with the action.
The bosses, however, are fantastic. A few of them are a bit cheap, but generally their level of brutality is welcome, and ensured that I didnít abandon my campaign in favour of starting again on Ďhardí. It took me many, many replays to take several of them down, and I have, I confess, been unable to take down the ridiculous final boss as of yet (I went into the fight with no health packs, which makes things considerably harder). This is, Iíd have to say, a good thing Ė the boss fights force you to go back again and again until you master patterns and learn the gameís systems inside-out, although they also tend to highlight the limitations of your abilities and the frustrating lack of defensive options beyond the parry.
Many of these battles require the use of ĎBlade Modeí, the initial main selling point of the game when it was announced, which is equal parts thrilling and finicky. Hold down L and youíll be able to control your blade directly with the right stick, cutting up foes precisely and, if youíre lucky, pulling out their electronic cores (because theyíre all cyborgs, see) to regain health. Itís a brutal system to witness as you deftly slice off arms, legs and heads, but using it accurately can be a real pain if youíre not facing your enemy from an ideal position. Getting the sword angle right isnít easy, as the blade often doesnít react to your movements as you might expect it to, which gets particularly frustrating in one (mostly excellent) boss fight that requires your precision.
Revengeance steers away from the MGS seriesí ridiculously overlong cutscenes, and manages to deliver the most coherent and interesting story of any Platinum game outside of Infinite Space. The game kicks off four years after the end of MGS4, with Raiden now working for a private military company. While the actual plot isnít amazing, the cutscene dialog and characters are, in truth, much better than I expected. Raiden follows in the footsteps of many recent videogame characters that have started to question the nature of the violence theyíre constantly inflicting, but he reaches conclusions, and makes decisions, completely at odds with the standard protocol for this sort of story. Itís odd, but also quite refreshing in its own crazy way.
There are nods to the seriesí propensity for long discussions about philosophy and numerous little winks and nods to what has come before, but itís the relationships and conversations between characters that keep things surprisingly interesting. Quinton Flynnís performance as Raiden is particularly noteworthy: gravely and gruff, he manages to sell a character arc that, on paper, sounds a little silly, but which manages to work well within the ludicrous contexts the game affords it.
The campaign isnít particularly long (which isnít to say that it wonít take a long time to finish, once you factor in the hours you may spend on the bosses and the higher difficulties), but itís bolstered with an AR Mode that gives you a handful of extra missions to complete. These werenít my cup of tea Ė the stealth focused ones in particular, while relevant, feel a tad archaic Ė but theyíre a pleasant little bonus to have. The lack of online leaderboards, both here and in the campaign, is a strange oversight though Ė surely players would be more inclined to go for those high scores and S-ranks if they knew how the rest of the world was performing?
Truthfully, Revengence isnít the sort of game that will be remembered for the scores that critics gave it. My review reflects my position as a big fan of this sort of game, but Iím certainly not one of the best players in the world. Itís the tiny portion of players who will be able to S-rank the highest difficulty who will, in the coming months, be able to shape Revengeanceís legacy. For the rest of us, itís an extremely solid action game, a brutal, crazy ride that fits in nicely with the rest of Platinumís oeuvre, but one that falls just short of being an instant classic thanks to some finicky controls and muted design choices.