Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance is one of the best games of the PS3 generation, the best “character action” game ever made, and maybe one of the best video games of all time. Here’s why:
1. Raiden is badass
Yoji Shinkawa’s tremendous artwork is translated in stunning style here. Not only is Raiden’s visual design phenomenal, but the animation as well. Pictured at right is the most satisfying animation in all of video games, and it’s a vision unimaginable prior to the HD gaming era. Cutting a cyborg in half in slow motion, then removing its
spinal cord nanomachine healing core, then crushing it in your hand to absorb its delicious electrolytes, all in real time – if that doesn’t get your blood pumping, you might be dead.
2. The final boss is a U.S. Senator
Not to spoil the game or anything, but the final boss is a sitting member of Congress – and his body is made of nanomachines. He also punts Raiden like a football and has lines like “Don’t fuck with this senator!” and “Nanomachines, son!” and (when Raiden asks how the hell he got elected), “Well, I don’t write my own speeches.” Having a boss fight against a politician is both utterly ridiculous and a perfect reading of the zeitgeist.
3. The localization and voice acting are amazing
As a long time Japanophile and anime snob, I usually prefer Japanese games in their original language, with English subtitles. But this is the first game where I can honestly say that the English voice track makes the game better. There’s not a false note in the entire performance, which is impressive considering that for a relatively short game, there is a lot of dialogue. The localization is top-notch, too – even the most pointless of side conversations are lively and entertaining, and the script has been crafted for the English market, not just translated straight from Japanese.
4. The story is pitch-perfect
The Metal Gear series has always been borderline ridiculous, especially since its entrance into the 3D era with the first Metal Gear Solid game for the original PlayStation in 1998. Metal Gear Rising continues that trend even in the name, with the nonsense subtitle of “Revengeance,” a word that is absurd and amazing at the same time. The game is virtually a send-up of the Metal Gear series, and the creators can’t have taken it entirely seriously (see item #2 above), and yet it’s earnest in the way that the best over-the-top action or martial arts movies are. Hideo Kojima explores real themes here – privatization of military conflict, artificial intelligence, the nature of humanity when faced with cybernetic augmentation, and of course nanomachines, son – and then characters belt out lines like “Welcome to my utopia of death!” The juxtaposition of serious and batshit-insane is in perfect harmony here.
5. It’s a video game-ass video game
It’s a video game. You do video game shit: run around, fight guys, get a score and get ranked at the end. There’s a minor upgrade and unlocking system, and there are certainly cutscenes, but for the most part you’re playing the game. This shouldn’t be a revelation, but in the modern gaming environment where everything seems chock-full of pointless collectibles, micro-transactions, tacked-on multiplayer modes, and overpriced “season passes,” it’s refreshing to just play a traditional game.
6. The soundtrack
Not much to say: it’s the perfect soundtrack of guitar riffs and yelling, with lyrics kicking in at key moments during boss battles to get you pumped up. (Like RULES OF NATURE.)