Late to the Party: Metal Gear Rising Revengeance

I have played Metal Gear Solid 5 to completion, but I have only given 2 and 3 a short amount of time each. What I know of the franchise is mainly based off what I hear/read from other sources and watching some clips.

Metal Gear Rising is a strange game, especially for a big budget one. It’s a hack & slash spinoff of what’s probably the most famous stealth series in existence. It is a 5-hour long game (not counting an hour of cutscenes and deaths) released in a time when professional critics called 10-20 hour long games “short”. It is extremely blunt with its political messaging when we still have companies like Ubisoft claiming their games about political revolution aren’t political in 2021. And it seems be more popular now than it was in 2013. But why? In the creative industry that treats most of its art as disposable mere months after release, why is this one getting more popular? Well besides it being incredibly silly and incredibly sincere, it’s probably because it’s the type of great game that isn’t made much these days.

As I said before, this is a game that only takes about 6 hours to finish. In contrast to the 2022 trend of making 200 hours of meaningless nonsense, this is a quick game that focuses on making sure that players have a memorable experience. Instead of dragging out every single fight, this game encourages speed, to take on enemies head-on, and parry any attacks instead of dodging like in most hack & slashers. Aggression is so encouraged that it even has a mechanic that lets Raidan recover health by tearing some cybernetics out of sliced enemies. And the music, my god. It’s mainly hard rock and a bit of metal, with the highlights come from the boss fights. These are the type of songs that make me feel like I could punch a bear.

The game starts off with a slow prologue, where Raidan, the cyborg ninja twink hero, fights a robot the size of a house and he jumps from missile to missile as a hard rocker screams “RULES OF NATURE”. But it’s made clear from the get-go what this game is trying to convey: making war into a profitable industry is bad. The main antagonist faction has no interest in creating peace, for peace results in less profit. Endless war and suffering is preferable to letting some prick in a suit having slightly less money. Nobody will be mistaking this blunt writing for Cormac McCarthy or Akwaeke Emezi, but combining the sincere style of Hideo Kojima with the bombastic nature of PlatinumGames makes it a pretty entertaining. One minute, it’s a discussion about how modern US wars are fought by the poor people who have no other option. The next minute, it’s a battle with a cyborg ninja held together by magnets who keeps throwing vehicles. One minute a US senator is stealing quotes from Martin Luther King Jr and Ronald Reagan for his argument that the “weak” should be purged in his new War on Terror. The next, the same senator is punching the ground so hard it explodes. Its a fine balancing act between silly and lecturing that makes this story so enjoyable.

And speaking of the senator, I have to dedicate a paragraph to Armstrong. He is barely mentioned in the game until right at the end, he’s only on screen for like 40 minutes, and yet, his time is the peak of an already great game. In the final fight, he mixes in stuff learned fighting previous bosses, adds some new ideas like having the sword constantly taken away, and the best song in the game being blasted during his last phase. Even if the fight was a bore, he would still be the show stealer. He is just so hammy, cruel, full of shit, stupid, and hateable. A perfect fit for such a blunt and goofy game. And then Raidan gets to tear his heart out.

This game isn’t perfect. The camera is a hassle while in buildings and it needed much better tutorials. But in the year 2022, this 2013 game is a breathe of fresh air.