It’s about time someone capitalized on the distinct lack of sword-wielding cyborg-on-cyborg action in the gaming industry. Half-human, half-robot mercenaries are few and far between, and fortunately superstar producer Kojima Productions decided to fill that niche.

Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance

C-
PlayStation 3, Also 360, PC
KONAMI


The newest game in the “Metal Gear” series focuses on cyborg sword-for-hire Raiden as he tries to keep an overzealous private military company full of bloodthirsty half-man half-machine warmongers from igniting a new war in the name of profit. Ignoring conventional weaponry in favor of flashy swordplay, “Revengeance” and its frantic hack-and-slash gorefest are in stark contrast with the series-defining stealth focus.

Oscillating between high-speed dashes and slow-motion evisceration, battles in “Revengeance” require split-second decision-making. Often outmatched both in number and in size, Raiden finds himself constantly flanked by roid-raging bionic hitmen and their massive mechanical allies. Once weakened, an enemy can be cut in half during a bullet time-esque sequence that challenges players to exploit enemies’ soft spots and subsequently reduce them to quivering piles of trash.

Set in varying locales worldwide, players are greeted by stunningly detailed environments that are every bit as susceptible to Raiden’s blade as his foes. Every clash is orchestrated by a symphony of metal-on-metal clangs and the sounds of tearing sinew, highlighting the top-notch aesthetics expected of a “Metal Gear” game.

While all this is great, and while it’s difficult to argue that half-human, half-robot, ninja-sword wielding mercenaries tearing each other to pieces would constitute anything other than top-tier entertainment, “Revengeance” falls short in a number of areas. Raiden’s “Ninja Run” trivializes combat by automatically deflecting oncoming bullets and, to a lesser extent, exploration by allowing him to avoid obstacles without additional input from the player. Even worse, the mechanic fails intermittently, leading to frustrating deaths.

Saying that Raiden’s sprinting mechanic hinders exploration is a bit of misnomer. The game is painfully linear, with the series staple of being able to approach a situation from multiple angles being reduced to trying to determine whether or not it’d be possible to one-hit kill an enemy before engaging the rest and environments offering few to no alternate paths to advancement. Invisible walls plague engagements, artificially confining the player within their bounds.

The previously mentioned slow-mo cutting apart of enemies (think “VATS” from the “Fallout” series) isn’t just a bonus – it’s the most efficient way of dealing with enemies as well as the best way to earn points (which allow Raiden to buy upgrades). It’s fun as a novel tool for taking care of frustrating baddies, but after the 200th time it starts to get a bit old. The boss fights — against consistently more difficult and challenging enemies — unfortunately always boil down to a quicktime sequence and slowed-down julienning, slicing and dicing.

The other characters in the game are almost as forgettable as the combat. Various token allies and foes make an appearance, with overdone accents and some of the worst writing this side of “Twilight.” The hero and antagonists alike are privy to terrible voice acting and cheesy lines. Raiden especially stands out, sounding more like a wimpy smoker from a 1950s sitcom than a morally conflicted killing machine.

While a fun and mindless foray into the hack-and-slash genre with top-notch aesthetics, “Revengeance” isn’t to be pursued if you’re seeking varied gameplay, interesting characters or remotely decent scripting.

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