Flavor for the Fare
If you’ve never played a Metal Gear game before, fear not. Revengeance is set within the Metal Gear universe and features a number of callbacks, but, in general, it is flavor for the fare. There is a story, as crazy and shifting and nonsensical as it may be, but newcomers to the series can easily slip right in. Unlike many games, having a crazy, shifting, nonsensical story really doesn’t do Revengeance any disservice. This is a game that revels in its outrageousness. The lunacies of its futurist setting, (e.g. an anti-terrorist policy that seems to amount to “hack the bad guys into pieces” and militarized robots the size of skyscrapers) actual serve the gameplay by elevating the possibilities to new heights.
There is some plot here: a terrorist scheme, private military corps monetizing war, Raiden’s quest to avenge the African prime minister. None of these things feel like they are meant to be taken seriously and that is just as well. Even before your character, Raiden, looks at the bloody stump of his recently severed arm and says in his growly, more annoyed than pained voice, “not again,” it is already clear what kind of game this is. The story is justification for the excellently tuned madness that is the game’s outlandish encounters. Before long, caring about the story fades before actually experiencing it, making the pre-rendered cutscenes feel more interruptions than meaningful exposition.
Electrified Katanas Are Only the Beginning…
But again, that is no problem for a game like Revengeance. The meat of Platinum Game’s creation lies in the fluidity of its combat. The racing to and fro, dodging and parrying, strategically choosing which targets need your attention first, and dying when you choose wrong. The combat experience of Revengeance is already the high-water mark for action gaming in 2014 and, after plumbing its depths, I have serious doubts on whether anything else this year will top it.
The core of Revengeance’s seriously satisfying nature lies in its defensiveness as much as the sheer fun of slicing enemies into dozens of pieces. This is not a game to be button-mashed through. Enemies hit hard and team up, forcing you to dodge and parry. Some encounters can be stealthed through for extra points but where is the fun in that? Revengeance has the great quality of allowing you to feel like you are winning against all odds. This trait comes at the frustrating cost of repeated death while learning the intricacies of combat, however.
Raiden has a number of moves which can be easily chained together using a mix of heavy and light attacks, as well as a secondary weapon. These can be expanded and upgraded over time, of course, and each blow carries a nice sense of impact. The juxtaposition of Raiden’s light-as-air movement and superhuman slices also combine nicely to, as Muhammed Ali began, float like a butterfly and sting like a razor-edged tractor trailer.
Excellent combat and incredibly creative encounters, truly challenging.
Passable story with clichéd characters, poorly implemented tutorial.