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This week, Zero Punctuation reviews Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance.

Transcript Edit

Sometimes I think the Metal Gear franchise  is like Jim Carrey in The Truman Show: it’s this loud wacky dipshit in dire need of an editor who lives in a little world of his own surrounded by people reassuring him that, “No, Metal Gear Solid 4 was totally a touching emotional character drama, especially when the funny man did a big poo in his pants.” And every now and again someone tries to parachute in wearing a t-shirt saying, "Everyone’s taking the piss!", but get swiftly bundled out of sight by a dogwalker and a Sony executive.

And while you can never accuse the games of being dull or conventional, they just can’t keep a consistent tone! Case in point, Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance, or to give it its full title, Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance I Don’t Think That’s A Real Word. Is it the dramatic story of a haunted man seeking redemption for his dark past while fighting off the instincts left over from the killer he used to be or is it an episode of Scooby-Doo? Why can I gorily hack off three of a soldier’s limbs and watch him crawl away bleeding out his last miles from home and then climb inside a barrel and roll around until I puke?

With previous Metal Gear front man Solid Snake kind of sort of probably killed off, Bishie-Come-Lately Raiden takes up the main character torch he hasn’t held since MGS2, when everyone told him to put down the fucking torch before he embarrassed himself further. And I kind of pity the guy ‘cause his entire existence since then has been Hideo Kojima going to more and more extreme lengths to convince us that Raiden is cool. So the next time he appeared he was a breakdancing cyborg ninja and with Revengeance we can now add "motorcycle-riding vigilante" to the list.

This is a fucking 12-year-old’s idea of character development. A cast-iron-balls-out fight sequence is meaningless without a sense of threat, and Raiden’s a cyborg, about as affected by loss of body parts as Mr. Potato Head. I might have mocked Solid Snake for doing nothing but repeat the last 2 words of the previous speaker’s sentence as a question with a voice like he'd inhaled a burning Brillo Pad, but he was at least human and felt pain. It’s humanity that makes character; Raiden can slice up robot monsters till he grows his first pube and he still wouldn’t be as engaging as the leads of MGS4, the two most socially inept men on the planet living in a sexless gay marriage.

The box blurb is as often the case inadvertently telling. “Action game set in the Metal Gear Solid universe” it says, and you’ll note the phrase not being employed is "a Metal Gear Solid game", which are characterized by an emphasis on stealthing to avoid having to do the horrible combat and dialogue inserted about as elegantly as a killer whale being inserted in a stationery cupboard. And while you'll certainly be best friends with the skip dialogue button by the end of Revengeance, you may be surprised by its relative brevity, perhaps for the sake of keeping up a fast pace now the combat’s got all hack and slash-y on us.

But then the game starts trying to tell you to be stealthy. I know you feel you have to at least acknowledge the previous games, but the combat’s actually halfway fun now and trying to stealth it is boring and doesn’t really match the game’s overall pace. And besides we are a men made out of coffee bakers and wing mirrors and even the fucking stealth kill entails somersaulting over the victim, slicing them in half and pulling their spine out. Going unnoticed seems like a lost cause outside of a sanitarium for the deaf blind. Just stop fussing and decide on the fucking tone, Metal Gear, for fuck’s sake!

But the combat is quite fun, yes, with the USP being the ability to slice at any angle and divide a large variety of objects into jigsaw puzzles, and since this is kind of feature a processor has nightmares about, the levels do seem a wee bit barebones-y. Against enemies it’s not worked in too horribly, though. You can flail the sword around like a plastic chimpanzee with a feather duster until the baddies are effectively powderized, but you’re rewarded for accurately divesting them of their limbs portfolio or cutting through the bottle of commercial energy drink they all sort of keep inside their spines.

In most cases, that only comes to you after you do a certain amount of button-mashing chimpanzee-made work though, and for a game with Metal Gear’s occasional tendency to witter on a bit, it’s very bad at explaining how the parry works, which is a shame because it's your only defense, and while you can get quite a ways through the game without it, the last couple of boss fights will stick a prong up your arse and repurpose you as a windscreen wiper if you haven’t quite mastered it. I eventually did, thanks to plenty of retries and a small team of MIT scientists, and I do appreciate the fact that technique demands skill.

What also helped was turning off that bloody boss fight music, and incidentally, Hideo, if breakdancing ninja cyborg vigilante biker hasn’t made Raiden cool, a score that sounds like a J-rock artist composed it as he was trying not to burst into tears while meeting his own gaze in his bedroom mirror isn’t going to clinch it.

By the way, I didn’t make that earlier Scooby-Doo comparison idly; not only is Raiden followed around by a mystery-solving gang of international stereotypes of varying degrees of necessity, including one token female character whose main role in the plot is wear a blouse with the top two buttons undone, but he also acquires a comedy talking dog as a sidekick. No really, this is a thing that happens. But wackiness jarringly placed alongside cringingly awkward drama is entirely expected in a Metal Gear game. Hideo Kojima writes like someone who has never left his house or spoken to another human being except when renting another cart load of bad action movies and anime. But that’s what makes those special, you know? And a gratifying reminder that there is still auteur-driven in this psychopathically commercial industry for better and worse.

Having said that, there’s a limit to the leeway that supports Metal Gear, a leeway that is overstepped with Revengeance’s final boss. I thought that The Adventures of Shaggy and Scooby: Bloodsoaked Robot Assassins was a bit schizophrenic in tone, but even those wavering and hazardous rails the game then goes off. At this point every halfway threatening villain is dead and we're reaching the culmination of a plot about child organ harvesting and an attempt to assassinate the president in order to destabilize the middle east but then...well, I won’t spoil it, but imagine watching something like, say, Ghost in the Shell, but right before the end you sit on the remote and TV switches over to an episode of Biker Mice from Mars, or Dragon Ball Z where the special guest villain turns out to be Hulk Hogan who goes on about how awesome right-wing policies are for 20 minutes before doing body slams on everyone who disagrees.

I'm kind of afraid that Metal Gear is deliberately fucking with us now. And when a joke tries to be in on the joke, the humor value tends to drain. You can’t start laughing at yourself now, Metal Gear, 'cause we’ve been doing that since we’ve figured out "Solid Snake" could refer to a cock.

AddendaEdit

Seeking revengeance for the mutilation of written English: Ben "Yahtzee" Croshaw

I suppose you could stretch 'Jack' into a masturbation reference but it's just not the same really

Also Raiden rhymes with Haydn who was a pianist and that sounds like penis

Episodes
2007 - 2010
2007
Q3 The Darkness Demo · Fable: The Lost Chapters · Zero Punctuation (Episode) · Heavenly Sword and Other Stuff · Psychonauts · Console Rundown · BioShock · Tomb Raider: Anniversary · Manhunt · Peggle
Q4 Halo 3 · Tabula Rasa · The Orange Box · Super Paper Mario · Medal of Honor: Airborne · The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass · Clive Barker's Jericho · F.E.A.R. Perseus Mandate · Assassin's Creed · Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock · Mass Effect
2008
Q1 Super Mario Galaxy · Silent Hill: Origins · Crysis · The Witcher · Resident Evil: The Umbrella Chronicles · Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare · SimCity Societies · Yahtzee Goes to GDC · Uncharted: Drake's Fortune · Devil May Cry 4 · Burnout: Paradise · Turok · Zack & Wiki: Quest for Barbaros' Treasure
Q2 Army of Two · No More Heroes · Condemned 2: Bloodshot · Super Smash Bros. Brawl · God of War: Chains of Olympus · Mailbag Showdown · Grand Theft Auto IV · Painkiller · The World Ends With You · The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion · Haze · Metal Gear Solid 4
Q3 Webcomics · Lego Indiana Jones: The Original Adventures · Alone in the Dark · Age of Conan: Hyborian Adventures · The E3 Trailer Park · Ninja Gaiden II · Prince of Persia Retrospective · Soulcalibur IV · Braid · EVE Online · Too Human · Spore · XBLA Double Bill
Q4 Mercenaries 2: World in Flames · Star Wars: The Force Unleashed · S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Clear Sky · Silent Hill: Homecoming · Saints Row 2 · Dead Space · Fable II · Fallout 3 · Guitar Hero: World Tour · Mirror's Edge · Left 4 Dead · Sonic Unleashed · The Year in Review - 2008 · Prince of Persia
2009
Q1 Awards for 2008 · Tomb Raider: Underworld · Far Cry 2 · Gears of War 2 · LittleBigPlanet · Thief: The Dark Project · Skate 2 · F.E.A.R. 2 · Spider-Man: Web of Shadows · The House of the Dead: Overkill · 50 Cent: Blood on the Sand · Resident Evil 5
Q2 X-Blades/Halo Wars · Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars · MadWorld · Tom Clancy's H.A.W.X · Siren: Blood Curse · The Chronicles of Riddick: Assault on Dark Athena · Valkyria Chronicles · Velvet Assassin · Duke Nukem Forever · Bionic Commando · InFamous · The Second Annual E3 Hype Massacre · Prototype
Q3 The Sims 3 · Ghostbusters: The Video Game · Overlord 2 · Red Faction Guerrilla · Wii Sports Resort · Call of Juarez: Bound in Blood · The Conduit · Silent Hill 2 · 2.5-D Hoedown · Tales of Monkey Island · Wolfenstein · Batman: Arkham Asylum · Beatles Rock Band & Guitar Hero 5 · Darkest of Days
Q4 Scribblenauts · Wet · Mario & Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story · Brutal Legend · Washington D.C. · Uncharted 2: Among Thieves · Dragon Age: Origins · Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 · Assassin's Creed 2 · Left 4 Dead 2 & New Super Mario Bros. Wii · Demon's Souls · Holiday 2009 · The Saboteur
2010
Q1 Awards for 2009 · Torchlight · Darksiders · Bayonetta · Dark Void · Borderlands · Mass Effect 2 · Dante's Inferno · BioShock 2 · Aliens vs Predator · Heavy Rain · Battlefield: Bad Company 2 · Final Fantasy XIII
Q2 April Fools 2010 · God of War III · Red Steel 2 · Just Cause 2 · Silent Hill: Shattered Memories · Splinter Cell: Conviction · Nier · Dead to Rights: Retribution · Monster Hunter Tri · Alan Wake · Red Dead Redemption · Alpha Protocol · Prince of Persia: The Forgotten Sands · E3 2010
Q3 No More Heroes 2: Desperate Struggle · Super Mario Galaxy 2 · Singularity · Crackdown 2 · DeathSpank & Limbo · Shadow of the Colossus · Split Second: Velocity · Transformers: War for Cybertron · Kane & Lynch 2: Dog Days · Mafia II · Metroid: Other M · Video Game Voters Network · Amnesia: The Dark Descent
Q4 Halo: Reach · Dead Rising 2 · Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions · Castlevania: Lords of Shadow · Enslaved: Odyssey to the West · Fallout: New Vegas · Star Wars: The Force Unleashed II · Call of Duty: Black Ops · IPhone Games · Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood · Splatterhouse · Epic Mickey · Holiday 2010
2011 - 2014
2011
Q1 Top 5 of 2010 · World of Warcraft: Cataclysm · Fable III · Minecraft · A Shadow's Tale · Dead Space 2 · DC Universe Online · MindJack · Two Worlds II · Bulletstorm · Killzone 3 · Kirby's Epic Yarn · Dragon Age II
Q2 Pokémon White · Yakuza 4 · Crysis 2 · Nintendo 3DS · Portal 2 · Castlevania: Symphony of the Night · Mortal Kombat · Brink · L.A. Noire · The Witcher 2 · Hunted: The Demon's Forge · Duke Nukem Forever (for real this time) · InFamous 2
Q3 Alice: Madness Returns · Shadows of the Damned · F.E.A.R. 3 · The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D · Call of Juarez: The Cartel · Bastion and From Dust · Catherine · Red Faction: Armageddon · Deus Ex · Deus Ex: Human Revolution · Driver: San Francisco · Dead Island · Resistance 3
Q4 Gears of War 3 · Hard Reset · Rage · Kinect · Batman: Arkham City · Battlefield 3 · Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception · Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 · The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim · Saints Row: The Third · Assassin's Creed: Revelations · The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword
2012
Q1 Serious Sam 3: BFE · Top 5 of 2011 · Super Mario 3D Land & Rayman Origins · Sonic Generations · Star Wars: The Old Republic · Amy · Resident Evil: Revelations · Darkness 2 · Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning · NeverDead · Syndicate · Mass Effect 3 · Twisted Metal
Q2 Yakuza: Dead Souls · Ninja Gaiden 3 · Silent Hill: Downpour · Kid Icarus: Uprising · Fez and I Am Alive · Prototype 2 · Risen 2: Dark Waters · Sniper Elite V2 · Diablo 3 · Max Payne 3 · Dragon's Dogma · E3 2012 · Lollipop Chainsaw
Q3 Quantum Conundrum · Spec Ops: The Line · Walking Dead · Inversion · The Amazing Spider-Man · Half-Life · Wreckateer and Deadlight · Steam Roundup · Sleeping Dogs · Darksiders 2 · DayZ · Guild Wars 2
Q4 Borderlands 2 · FIFA 13 · Resident Evil 6 · Dishonored · XCOM: Enemy Unknown · Medal of Honor: Warfighter & Doom 3: BFG Edition · Assassin's Creed 3 · Halo 4 · Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 · Hitman: Absolution · Far Cry 3 · ZombiU
2013
Q1 Top 5 of 2012 · Paper Mario: Sticker Star · Black Knight Sword & Hotline Miami · Anarchy Reigns · DMC: Devil May Cry · The Cave · Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch · Dead Space 3 · Aliens: Colonial Marines · Crysis 3 · Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance · Tomb Raider · SimCity
Q2 The Walking Dead: Survival Instinct · BioShock Infinite · Lego City Undercover · Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon · Injustice: Gods Among Us · Star Trek · Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon · System Shock 2 · Metro: Last Light · Next Gen Buyer's Guide · Fuse · Remember Me · E3 2013
Q3 The Last of Us · Deadpool · Animal Crossing: New Leaf · Ride to Hell: Retribution · Dark · Mario & Luigi: Dream Team · Rise of the Triad · Papers, Please & Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons · Pikmin 3 · The Bureau: XCOM Declassified · Saints Row 4 · Killer is Dead · Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs
Q4 Grand Theft Auto V · Lost Planet 3 · Beyond: Two Souls · The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD · Batman: Arkham Origins · Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag · Call of Duty: Ghosts · Exclusives Showdown · Ryse: Son of Rome · Dead Rising 3 · Super Mario 3D World
2014
Q1 Top 5 of 2013 · Knack · Killzone: Shadow Fall · Survival Special · Broken Age · Might & Magic X: Legacy · The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds · Dark Souls · Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII · Strider · Thief · Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2 · Dark Souls II
Q2 Titanfall · InFamous: Second Son · Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes · The Elder Scrolls Online · South Park: The Stick of Truth · FTL: Faster Than Light · Child of Day-Light · The Amazing Spider-Man 2 · Tesla Effect: A Tex Murphy Adventure · Wolfenstein: The New Order · WATCH DOGS · E3 2014 · Murdered: Soul Suspect
Q3 Tomodachi Life · Enemy Front & Valiant Hearts: The Great War · Shovel Knight · EarthBound · Transistor · E.T. · Firefall · Sacred 3 · Risen 3: Titan Lords · Daikatana · Lichdom: Battlemage · The Sims 4 · Destiny
Q4 D4: Dark Dreams Don't Die · Hyrule Warriors · Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor · Alien Isolation · The Evil Within · Bayonetta 2 · Sunset Overdrive · Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare · Assassin's Creed: Unity · Far Cry 4 · Dragon Age: Inquisition · Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric · Top 5 Games of 2014
2015 - 2017
2015
Q1 The Talos Principle · Elite: Dangerous · Five Nights at Freddy's and This War of Mine · Lords of the Fallen · Saints Row: Gat out of Hell · Dying Light · Grim Fandango · Evolve · The Order: 1886 · The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask 3D · Resident Evil Revelations 2 · Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number & Ori and the Blind Forest
Q2 Battlefield: Hardline · Bloodborne · Half-Life 2 Update · Axiom Verge & Stealth Inc 2 · Mortal Kombat X · Grand Theft Auto Online · Broken Age: Act 2 · Wolfenstein: The Old Blood · Cyberpunk Double · The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt · Splatoon · Hatred · E3 2015
Q3 Alone in the Dark: Illumination · Batman: Arkham Knight · Yoshi's Woolly World · Cave Story · Godzilla · Rocket League & Tembo the Badass Elephant · King's Quest: A Knight to Remember · Nom Nom Galaxy & Freedom Planet · Everybody's Gone To The Rapture · Volume · Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain · Mad Max · Gears of War Ultimate Edition · Until Dawn
Q4 Super Mario Maker · SOMA · Rock Band 4 · Assassin's Creed Syndicate · Halo 5: Guardians · Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 · Rise of the Tomb Raider · Fallout 4 · Star Wars: Battlefront · Just Cause 3 · Fatal Frame: Maiden of Black Water
2016
Q1 Top 5 Games of 2015 · Devil's Third · Mario & Luigi: Paper Jam · Assassin's Creed Chronicles · Xenoblade Chronicles X · The Witness & Bombshell · Gravity Rush · XCOM 2 · Firewatch & Layers of Fear · Far Cry Primal · Stardew Valley & SUPERHOT · The Division · Salt and Sanctuary
Q2 Republique · Shadow Warrior · Quantum Break · Dark Souls III · Ratchet & Clank · Star Fox Zero · Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door · Uncharted 4: A Thief's End · Doom · Homefront: The Revolution · Overwatch & Battleborn · Mirror's Edge: Catalyst · E3 2016
Q3 Mighty No. 9 · Inside & Shadow of the Beast · The Technomancer · Furi & Song of the Deep · I Am Setsuna · Headlander & Quadrilateral Cowboy · Quake · No Man's Sky · Grow Up · Deus Ex: Mankind Divided · Metroid Prime: Federation Force · The Curious Expedition & Mother Russia Bleeds · ReCore
Q4 Capcom Five · Clustertruck & Lichtspeer · Paper Mario: Color Splash · Mafia III · Gears of War 4 · PlayStation VR · Battlefield 1 · Titanfall 2 vs Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare · Dishonored 2 · WATCH DOGS 2 · Final Fantasy XV · The Last Guardian
2017
Q1 Top 5 Games of 2016 · Let It Die · Dead Rising 4 · Hitman · Gravity Rush 2 · Resident Evil 7 · Yakuza 0 · Nioh · For Honor · Nintendo Switch & Breath of the Wild · Horizon Zero Dawn · Nier Automata · Ghost Recon Wildlands
Q2 Mass Effect Andromeda · Yooka-Laylee · Persona 5 · Remastered Editions · Outlast 2 · Sniper: Ghost Warrior 3 · Prey · Wilson's Heart · The Surge · Injustice 2 · Vanquish · E3 2017 · Strafe
Q3 Get Even · Hollow Knight / Dead Cells

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