When someone says that a game is not worth $59.99 solely because of its length, I always throw Vanquish out as an example of an incredibly high quality, yet short, experience that is unequivocally worth full retail pricing. If a game is both short and underwhelming, then I can understand the argument, but simply discounting a game based on length will always result in an impassioned argument of…Vanquish. Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance is as short as Vanquish (shorter, if you don’t count the length of Revengeance’s cutscenes), but is it good enough to join Vanquish as a cornerstone in the argument of quality vs. quantity?
Indeed it is.
I’m not a huge fan of the Metal Gear Solid franchise, mainly because it is a stealth game that severely punishes you for breaking stealth. I do not have the patience for pure stealth, and without the option of action, a pure stealth game loses me quickly. I have, however, always been interested in the Metal Gear universe. When I discovered Metal Gear Rising, I was instantly enamored by the concept of an action game within said Metal Gear universe. When development transitioned to Platinum Games, I went from being enamored to downright lustful.
I’ve got a bit of a thing for Platinum Games…games. This one does not disappoint.
First, there are some similarities to the Metal Gear Solid titles. The well known “!” and its accompanying ding return, along with cardboard boxes as mobile camouflage. Also, cutscenes. I played Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance for nearly 7 hours. At least one hour of that time was spent in cutscenes/dialogue or on the upgrade screen. This isn’t as long as in a Metal Gear Solid game, but I believe Metal Gear Solid games are also much longer as a whole, so it may balance out in the ratios. Otherwise, do not expect to have a strong stealth element to the game. There are times when you can approach a situation with stealth, and there are definitely scenarios that allow for no-kill victories, but the heart and soul of this game is its action gameplay, and that should not be ignored or slighted in favor of nostalgia.
The thing that really sets Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance apart from both its Metal Gear cousins and from other action games in general is its Blade Mode gameplay mechanic. With a simple press of a button, gameplay switches from standard action button mashing and combo usage to precision control of your sword’s angle of attack. If your special meter is high enough, you can even slow time around you, allowing for detailed dismemberment or disembowelment of your enemies and retrieval of their regenerative nanotechnology to replenish your own health (as shown in the Zandatsu video above). Blade Mode keeps track of your attacks, displaying how many pieces you’ve created from a previous whole (my record is approximately 1,600+ pieces from a helicopter). It takes a bit of time to get used to the transition between standard action and precision cutting, but once you’ve mastered it, you can slip in and out of Blade Mode at will to wreak carnage on those who dare stand in your path. On top of slicing up your enemies, though, you can slice up incoming projectiles and a large amount of environment.
As with Vanquish, Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance has enormous replay value. I would argue, however, that Revengeance has more replay value, due to the skill/weapon upgrade system and the alternate weapons that can be earned. As you play the game, you earn battle points. The more effective you are, the more points you earn. This ranges from damage received to damage dealt, and level of completion to enhanced use of blade mode, among other factors. The battle points serve as currency in the upgrade screen, where you can add on to your life and electrolyte meters, upgrade your weapons’ damage/features, and purchase new attack and defense skills (some of which are displayed in the video above).
As you defeat the game’s bosses, you unlock the ability to equip their weapons as secondary weapons in your own arsenal (as seen above). These weapons change how you play the game, depending on your selection, and can each be upgraded as you progress, if you so choose. Playing through the game with each of these alternate weapons can really make a big difference in how you experience the most important part: the game’s combat system. Throw on additional levels of difficulty, and your 5 hours of gameplay shoots up considerably. The boss fights change drastically with difficulty, as well. Instead of simply scaling damage and aggression with difficulty, bosses use entirely new techniques and abilities, which can lead to some real surprises as you replay the game. Check out this quick look at the game’s sub-bosses:
The game makes the occasional pop culture reference, including a brief interlude of Vanilla Ice’s Ninja Rap, and definitely fits within the world of Metal Gear. I wouldn’t go so far as to say that the story is shattering boundaries and treading unexplored ground, but it’s definitely a solid tale, and more than enough to keep you invested as you progress. Once you’ve finished playing through the story once, you can replay it for the various factors that modify gameplay, or you can go through for unlockables and bonus missions. As you make your way through the world, you can unlock VR missions that occur outside of the game’s campaign. There are 5 training missions and 20 VR missions. The VR missions are objective based with various win conditions. Depending on the mission, success is ranked by completion time and other factors.
There is a highly polarized debate about how the monetary worth of a game should or should not be determined by the length of the game. You will see reviews that claim Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance’s brief experience is detrimental to its retail worth. I, however, submit that Revengeance’s experience, while brief, is one of undeniable quality and entertainment, fully justifying its retail pricing. Like Vanquish, Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance is short, but otherwise impeccable. Did I end up wanting more? Without question, but I like to think of that as a mark of excellence. Platinum Games, Kojima Productions, and Konami have done what I previously thought impossible: I love a Metal Gear game.
- Fantastic gameplay and story experience
- Blade mode is well implemented and incredibly entertaining
- Lots of unlockables and upgrades
- Lots of subtle pop culture references
- I wanted more game
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