It may not be a mainline Metal Gear Solid game, it may not have been developed by Kojima Productions, and it may not have been directed by Hideo Kojima, but Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance continues to hold a special place in the hearts of all series fans- or those who played it, at any rate. PlatinumGames’ beloved hack and slash action title recently celebrated its tenth anniversary, and though it remains to be seen whether we will see it coming back into the limelight in any shape or form, here, we’re going to celebrate its ten years by looking back at it and talking about ten things that made it the excellent game it was.
Calling the Metal Gear franchise over the top would be the understatement of that century, but even in that group, Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance prides itself on a very unique and unhinged brand of insanity. This is a game where being absurd was almost the point, and it did that in ways that set it apart from other games in the franchise. Metal Gear Rising has a personality unlike any other game we’ve ever played, and from its story to its cast of characters (more on that in a bit) to its dialogue to its high octane action, it embraces that absurdity in truly exceptional ways.
Unsurprisingly, this was the highlight of Metal Gear Rising. That’s unsurprising, of course, because that’s true of pretty much every game PlatinumGames has ever developed. The studio has a mastery of action combat systems like very few other developers in the industry do, but even when compared to other excellent Platinum titles (of which there’s more than a few), Metal Gear Rising’s combat remains peerless. Every single action in the game is an example of mechanical perfection- every slash, every dodge, every block, every parry, all of it comes together to deliver one of the most thrilling and satisfying combat systems we’ve ever experienced in a character action game.
There’s something about parrying mechanics that appeals massively to fans of action games (when they’re implemented well, at least), and you’d be hard-pressed to think of many games that do parrying better than Metal Gear Rising does it. What makes it stand head and shoulders above the vast majority of other games who have similar mechanics is how incredibly satisfying parrying feels in this game- which, in turn, is primarily down to how perfectly balanced its challenging nature is. Even on standard difficulty, nailing the parry window in Revengeance requires a lot of practice, but once you do get the hang of it, nothing beats the swelling satisfaction of getting it right and turning enemies’ attacks on themselves.
Another defining trait of Metal Gear Rising’s combat system that sets it apart from its peers is Blade Mode. This was something that was billed as one of the game’s biggest hooks long before it came out (when it was supposed to be called Metal Gear Solid: Rising, in fact), and though there were initial doubts behind the scenes over whether it could be properly implemented, PlatinumGames was able to do just that. It allows players to slow down time and hack and slash at enemies with a flurry of quick attacks, with minute control afforded over the direction of every single swing, only to see enemies (or whatever it is you’re slashing at) cut down into literal ribbons as soon as time starts moving again. It’s as incredibly fun as it sounds, and yet another example of how overtly absurd this game is.
EXCELLENT BOSS FIGHTS
Both Metal Gear as a franchise and PlatinumGames as a developer have always been known for delivering memorable boss fights, so it’s no surprise that a Metal Gear game developed by Platinum had plenty of those as well. Obviously, given the game’s very nature, Revengenace’s boss fights were very different from what you’d ordinarily expect to see from such encounters in a Metal Gear game, and yet they still rank as some of the best the series has ever delivered. Epic, high octane, mechanically sound, appropriately challenging- they had everything they needed to serve as the memorable highlights of the experience that they were.
Metal Gear Rising may not have been developed and plotted out by Hideo Kojima, but the game still had an excellent cast of characters. The likes of Jetstream Sam and Sundowner, to name just a couple, dominated every scene they were in, and were perfect examples of how the cast’s best and biggest personalities could quickly embed themselves in your memory. Of course, there were a couple of characters in particular who deserve special mention…
It’s easy to forget that in terms of pure screentime, the game’s main antagonist, Senator Armstrong didn’t have a massive role in Metal Gear Rising. But boy did he have a massive presence, to the point that he may very well be one of the best villains we’ve seen in a game in the last decade. On a fundamental level, the threat he posed to Raiden was a formidable one, as evidenced by the gruelingly punishing final boss fight he starred in. On a narrative level, meanwhile, he may very well be the most memorable personality in the entire game, and has single handedly given birth to some of the best gaming memes you’ll ever see. Hell, he gave us “nanomachines, son”- what more could you ask for?
Raiden’s trajectory throughout the Metal Gear franchise is fascinating to follow. He started out as a wimpy kid in Metal Gear Solid 2, before returning in Metal Gear Solid 4 as a badass (and painfully tragic) cyborg, only to complete his transformation as an excellent action hero in Metal Gear Rising. No, he’s obviously no Solid Snake, but Revngeance’s Raiden is still an incredibly compelling protagonist that most players found very easy to root for. All too often, god protagonists are taken for granted in all forms of storytelling, so we’ll take every chance we get to point out just how excellent Raiden was in this game.
That really is the perfect way to describe Metal Gear Rising’s soundtrack- it’s banging. It freaking slaps. It suits the tone of the game perfectly. It’s bombastic, it’s explosive, it’s full of adrenaline. This is a game that’s all about over the top action and giddy violence, about stakes so high that it’s hard not to laugh at them- and it’s all too self aware about all of these things. Nothing exemplifies that better than the soundtrack, which keeps delivering one excellent piece of music after another (especially when it comes to the boss fights).
Even if you just play through the base experience of Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance, you’ll be in for one hell of an action game, but if you still want more once you’ve rolled the credits (and you probably will), there’s additional content to dive into- which, typically enough, is also excellent. PlatinumGames released several DLC chapters for the game in the aftermath of its launch, which collectively add a healthy chunk of gameplay, and they are all well worth diving into.