When Raiden was first introduced in Metal Gear Solid 2 back in 2001, he immediately drew the fans ire. They replaced the cool and grizzled solider Solid Snake with a whining, incompetent, Raiden. But then in 2008’s Metal Gear Solid 4, we got to see Raiden’s return as a cyborg ninja that decimated legions of robots that were difficult for Snake to kill. Now the time has come where you get to play as said cyborg ninja, and it is every bit as amazing as the cut scenes in Metal Gear Solid 4.
In Revengeance you play and feel the part of an unstoppable cyborg assassin that can just rip through countless cyborg soldiers and robots. The gameplay is centered on the traditional light attack/heavy attack combos. By chaining together combos you will eventually break down the enemy’s defense, which allows you to use blade mode on them. Blade mode allows the player to slow down time and control the blade with the right analog stick. This allows the player to cut the enemy in any way you want. While in blade mode, a section of the enemy will be highlighted with a red square, and if Raiden slices through that square, he can reach into the enemy and pull out their nano-machine filled spine and crush it in his hand to refill the health and blade mode energy meter. This can be a very useful and entertaining way to kill an enemy instantly. The stealth mechanics of the game feels kind of tacked on, but the combat is so fun you may just skip the stealth altogether.
Enemies aren’t going to just sit there and allow Raiden to attack; they’re going to fight back. This is where the blocking comes in. An enemy will flash red before he attacks, and if the player presses the light attack button and pushes the left analog stick in the direction of the attack, Raiden will block. This is one of the biggest problems with the combat system: if it’s not in the right direction at the right time it won’t block the attack. Additionally if the analog stick and button are not pushed at the exact same time, the block will fail. There is also dodging which you can do by pressing the jump and light attack button simultaneously. This is much more responsive and easier to use.
The difficult blocking can make fighting some of the games bosses very difficult; the boss fights are somewhat lacking in comparison to other Metal Gear games. The boss encounters themselves are fun if only because the combat is fun, and the boss fights serve to be just extended fights which won’t be a bad thing. They aren’t as creative or interesting as in past games. This is partly due to the lack of character development on any of these people, most of whom you meet for the first time when you fight them instead of getting to know each of them as the game goes on. Raiden rarely knows the people that he kills.
That is not to say that the plot is bad, the game is still written by Hideo Kojima and still maintains that distinct Metal Gear style. This is both one of the game’s biggest positives as well as its negatives. Expect to see very long cut scenes where the philosophy of war is debated, and be prepared for long codec conversations in between fights. Now the plot itself is good, although it suffers from a few pacing issues after the first mission but picks back up. There are also a few throw away characters, but otherwise the plot is solid and does a good job providing reasons and realistic motocations for Raiden to kill large amounts of robots. Now those who are just looking for a fun action game or aren’t up to date on Metal Gear cannon may have a hard time keeping up with the plot. They may find that the constant cut scenes and codec conversations slow the pacing and become a pain to get through, though most of the cut scenes include some of the most intense action sequences in the game.
Most of the codec conversations take place in between fighting areas as you walk to the next. This travel (provided there is no conversation) is made easier by the ninja run which lets you traverse large portions of the levels easily. The environments in the game are very bland and boring, unlike all of the character models which obviously had a lot of work put into them. The game also supports multiple costumes that you can purchase. The game rewards the player with battle points after combat, which can also be used to purchase weapon upgrades and moves for Raiden. This is one of the things that will keep you coming back to Revengeance, you receive a rank based on your performance in the battle, which could motivate you to achieve better ranks. There are also collectibles and hidden VR missions around the level for you to find and play later, keeping you coming back for more of the insanely fun combat.
Overall Revengeance is a worthy successor to the Metal Gear title with an extremely fun and satisfying combat system and an interesting story that doesn’t over stay its welcome. It takes about eight hours to beat the game on normal mode, which may disappoint some, but the combat will leave you wanting more and ready embrace the new future of this franchise.