Revenge. With a vengeance. Revengeahaha ah no I can’t do it.
First of all, that name is ridiculous. I laughed out lout at the announcement trailer, but it seemed to be deadly serious, now the game is out I still can’t tell whether it’s meant to be some kind of joke. If you haven’t seen the reveal trailer, I’ve replaced the leading picture with it because you need to watch it right to the end, the last minute or so is comedy gold. Verbal overkill to the max. So how about the game?
Quick disclaimer: I’ve not actually played any of the Metal Gear games. I mean I started 4 when it came out, but without playing the rest of them it was 90% incomprehensible psychobabble with a cast of a thousand characters I’d never seen before and a few sparse minutes of squatting in corners. It might have been a brilliant game but it was so steeped in its own lore as a newcomer I had no chance. So eventually I got round to picking up the first game to play on the PS3, but it was too awkward and dated. Plus I got all the way to the first boss, couldn’t beat him and when I switched it off to have a rest, realised I hadn’t saved. For all the nostalgia about old games, controls have come a long way and MGS is not user-friendly. So I didn’t really know much about Metal Gear when I went into Revengeance, all I knew was that it had a silly name and the graphics were kind of terrible. I still bought it, because never underestimate the power of a silly name to make me spend money.
As it turns out, the game is a little bit phenomenal. A little bit because I finished the game on the ‘normal’ difficulty setting in around four hours, but phenomenal because that was an amazing four hours of gameplay. Normally I’d be disappointed with such a short campaign in a single-player only game, but it was so well crafted and if it had been stretched out any longer it could have become tedious. This game is never tedious.
The graphics are fairly bland. Everything has a low-res blockiness reminiscent more of Minecraft than Crysis, but this all makes sense once you get going as much of the environment can be cleaved in twain with your blade and the silky smooth framerate never seems to get bogged down. As the game goes on (and in fact within the first twenty minutes) you fight some truly colossal opponents and the engine seems to be making a point of not being fussed by them, it handles everything in a consistent way and with any title focusing on quick actions that is vital. The game’s big glaring flaw gets in the way of much of a visual spectacle though as the camera insists on showing you whatever is the least interesting aspect of the scene you’re in. You’ve got a lot of control over the protagonist but that means you’re unlikely to have a spare thumb to keep the camera focused. You can lock on to enemies but they rarely last long enough to make it worth while.
This is a petty annoyance though and it rarely stopped me enjoying the game. Throughout the four hours of campaign the pace never relents. Even the stealth sections are short and snappy, and you’re not punished too much for just slashing your way through anyway. Each fight is a joy as you have so much control over Raiden’s sword you can feel as if there’s a huge amount of skill involved in what you’re doing. In truth, I think it’s just quite an easy game as I never had too much trouble, but the feeling is important and as you choose to sever an enemy’s left arm because it contains data you need while being assaulted by two fifteen-foot mechs you’ll feel pretty cool. And psychopathic.
The morality of the whole game is dealt with in an interesting but not patronising way. Raiden is essentially the hero, but even he realises at various times that he is just a killing machine. There’s not to subtlety or depth we’ve been treated to in Spec Ops:The Line, but for a slash-em-up it adds a little gravitas to the proceedings. The story is a fun ride and requires no prior knowledge of the Metal Gear series to make sense.
Don’t let the four hour length put you off to much as is there is a wide array of difficulties, collectables and extra VR missions with leaderboards to test yourself against. The story is as long as it needs to be without repetition, and then if you want more there’s plenty of gameplay to get your money’s worth.
I didn’t expect to be recommending this game but it’s a surprise hit and I sincerely hope it gets to continue into the next generation. If you’re a fan of Bayonetta/Devil May Cry/ the combat in the newer Batman games at least give this a rental, it’s violent, fast and consistently entertaining. Also, go watch that trailer again, ridiculous.