Raiden has always been the black sheep in the Metal Gear character roster. He was more-or-less hated when he first made his debut back in Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty, but he did manage to get some fans with his reappearance in Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots. Now, with Kojima taking a backseat and Platinum Games taking the helm, we get a fresh look at the cyborg ninja.
Japanese as hell
Platinum is well-known for the insanity in its games and it definitely shows in Revengeance, right from the nonsensical name of the game to the first boss fight and even some of the weapons you get to wield. Right from the start, the game makes you feel like a super-powered ninja; it is one of the rare games out there that makes you feel like you’re using a real sword, instead of something to just whack enemies again and again with till they fall over and die.
One of the things that stand out about Revengeance is just how fluid everything is. Platinum made a wise choice to keep the game running at a solid 60fps. This makes animations feel fluid and the gameplay feel fast. This, along with the rocking soundtrack, makes the whole game feel like an extended adrenaline rush, especially with all the crazy things happening all around you.
Raiden's cyborg parts have been upgraded
The first boss does a great job of letting you know what the tone of the game is going to be like. You fight what has been established in other Metal Gear games as one of the most advanced and dangerous enemies possible—an unmanned version of Metal Gear Ray. Raiden makes short work of it in spectacular fashion, with key moments including lifting it up and throwing it into the air while he’s cutting it up, and jumping at the rockets it is shooting from afar just to get to it to cut it up some more.
Because of the insanity and blatant disregard for the laws of physics at display, the game ends up feeling much like an episode of some shonen anime. This may very well be one of the most distinctly Japanese games to have been made for this console generation and sits proudly alongside Bayonetta for being completely batshit insane.
Low frequency blades are for cowards
The action is fast-paced and frantic. Raiden, equipped with a cool-as-hell sword that supposedly vibrates at a very high frequency (hence letting him cut through giant robots and buildings alike), is an extremely offense-based character, and this can be seen in the control philosophy employed by platinum. There is literally no way of dodging attacks short of just moving out of the way yourself, and the game lacks a dedicated block button.
One of the two defensive moves you get is the parry, which is pulled off by timing your light attack in the direction the enemy’s attack is coming from. Time it right and you get to do a counter-attack that leaves the enemy open to a Zandatsu. Zandatsu is essentially Raiden kicking the enemy’s ass a bit and then letting you go wild in blade mode in the end.
"What’s blade mode?" you might ask. Well... blade mode is one of the most-touted features of the game. It basically lets you slow down time to a crawl while you pick where and how you want to slice up enemies. It’s interwoven into the fights well, with bosses needing you to use blade mode to exploit their weaknesses sometimes.
As they say, the best defense is a good offense
The other defensive move involves running. Running while holding down the L1 or LB button (depending on your platform of choice) lets you run around in Ninja Run mode. This mode is special because, first of all, it automates the platforming for you as long as you’re running in the right direction, and second and more importantly, automatically deflects regular bullets as long as the mode is on.
The controls aren’t exactly ground-breaking, though. You have simple light attacks and heavy attacks, and mixing them up lets you do combos that look spectacular. On the Normal difficulty, the game can be finished by simply button-mashing, but play on hard or higher and you’ll have to keep an eye on what combos you’re pulling off where and when.
Often the greatest enemy you end up fighting is the camera, though. The camera controls are God-awful in the game, with it constantly focusing on inane objects while you’re trying to stay alive through a constant onslaught of Gekkos and cyborg mercenaries. The camera ends up being the cause of death more often than even the bosses do, and hopefully, Platinum will fix the problems eventually.
While you do get healing supplies that automatically heal you when your health drops too low, the main way of staying alive in the battlefield is to enter blade mode, slice up the enemy in a strategic spot, and rip out its spine to absorb the electrolytes. Because of this, some fights tend to feel too easy.
Would you like some cheese with your plot?
The game’s story is just as insane as its gameplay, though this is pretty much par for the course. Taking place a few years after the events of Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots and the subsequent fall of the Sons of the Patriots system (along with the Patriots themselves), the plot revolves around Raiden and what he’s been up to since his last appearance. He has joined a Private Military Company (PMC) named Maverick, which specialises in offering security to high-profile people. Raiden’s minding his own business and protecting an African leader, when suddenly, cyborgs attack! They kill the leader and defeat Raiden in a rather humiliating fight, and thus kicks off the "Revengeance", as it were.
Raiden is about to get VERY humiliated
Most of the story focuses on a PMC named Desperado LLC and its plans to kidnap poor homeless children, harvest their organs and put their brains through VR training so they can become cyborg killing machines. Raiden, a once-child soldier himself, doesn’t take kindly to the idea and promptly sets out to destroy Desperado.
The story gets a little too heavy-handed with its message sometimes, in true Kojima fashion. Messages about war and child soldiers being bad are literally hammered into your head at some points, and the game sometimes goes out of its way to cast the actions of Raiden himself in a morally ambiguous light. Despite this, the story manages to be crazy enough to go well with the rest of the Metal Gear mythos.
The voice-acting gets pretty cheesy sometimes, with Raiden suffering the most. While his regular voice is just fine and dandy, it’s when you unlock his "Rage" mode, called Ripper mode in the game, when his voice acting gets crappy. Think of someone attempting an extremely bad impersonation of JC Denton of the original Deus Ex and you’ll know what I mean. His voice gets extremely raspy and guttural. There is also an extra serving of cheese and anvilicious aesops through some of the philosophical ramblings that bosses in Metal Gear games seem to have a habit of doing.