METAL GEAR? YES AND NO
In its review for Revengeance, 1UP claims that it largely succeeds “in spite of its Metal Gear baggage”. That’s taking it a bit too far – the legacy of the Metal Gear series ultimately negates itself and proves to be equal parts positive and negative. The Metal Gear universe makes a fine backdrop for such a game, and the events of Guns of the Patriots provide the perfect ramp to launch Revengeance (with as much coherency as can be expected).
Too bad Platinum Games and Kojiima Production’s love child can’t be bothered to return the favor: despite being canon, nothing is accomplished here for the venerated series at large. The characters are colorful but disposable, no major plot elements from MGS4 get a chance to surface, and even Raiden doesn’t see much concrete evolution that might make for a more interesting role in future games.
The opportunity for a staggered approach to further deepening the franchise mythos through different console games of complimentary genres seems to be entirely ignored here.
The absence of the word ‘Solid’ in the title doesn’t provide total amnesty from such responsibilities. Nor does Platinum Games integral involvement – the 5 hour campaign still has Hideo’s fingerprints all over it.
On one hand the campaign is short and sweet; on the other it’s needlessly truncated, never bothering to pause and make Kojima’s characteristic embellishments, much less whip up the kind of gritty gameplay sequences that have earned the franchise its hard won respect.
There are vestigial Metal Gear organs still intact, but they similarly fail to enhance the gameplay. The non-sword weapons and even the glorious cardboard box are rarely useful – the more subtle use of discretionary violence in general is rarely useful.
Sneaking can be convenient in certain stretches, but it can also quickly devolve into futility. Luckily the minor nature of these aspects of Revengeance make them almost entirely transparent, limiting the scope of their pointlessness.
This is all to say that – as exquisitely detailed – Revengeance is flashy fun, a cathartic reprieve from slinking across the shadows and mucking through the dirt just to choke out a single grunt. Every longtime MGS fan will revel in slicing up hordes of PMC jerks as Raiden, especially after having to deal with this shit over a decade ago:
But it’s also curiously unambitious for a Kojima title. There’s nothing wrong with a Metal Gear game without sneaking; nor is there some kind of phantom responsibility to create a protracted experience. Metal Gear games have always been more than the sum of their core gameplay experiences though, beyond how excellent said mechanics usually are.
We are all officially indebted to Platinum Games for swooping in and ensuring that Revengeance follows this proud tradition of rock solid gameplay, regardless of genre. Perhaps we should all be further grateful that this game came out in the first place? I’d say yes.
Finally, does our gratitude swallow our criticism – something is better than nothing? I won’t step there.