‘Revengeance,’ a great narrative hiding behind a disappointing game

Game Reviewby George Hyde, contributor

These days, many games try to tell complex stories. They follow the example of titles that succeed with edgy, well-told narratives without realizing that those legendary titles are, at their core, interactive experiences. “Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance” is one of those conflicted games. It can’t decide whether it wants to be an awesome action game like “Bayonetta” or a soul-crushingly dispiriting story like the other “Metal Gear” series titles.

The narrative in “Revengeance” is adeptly executed, as should be expected from the “Metal Gear” series. The main character is Raiden, who is the butt of many jokes among fans of the series but is actually fairly likable in this game. An African prime minister is kidnapped by a privately-operated military organization, and after being rebuilt “Robocop” style into the cyborg seen on the game’s front cover, it’s up to Raiden to unravel a massive conspiracy and learn about his true nature as an individual.

The story is well told, both through the series’ trademark cutscenes and through codec conversations during gameplay. There are plenty of heart-wrenching twists that will invoke plenty of thought, empathy and guilt in players.

Unfortunately, most of that vanishes when players start hacking and slashing thugs left and right. The game can easily be beaten in a few hours by simply repeatedly mashing the light-attack button and surpassing the quick-time events thrown in between. Players are rewarded for this simplistic action with a rudimentary experience system that never goes anywhere.

When gamers think of the “tactical espionage action” the series is known for, this isn’t usually what comes to mind. The spectacle of watching enemies explode into gallons of blood numbs the message the story is trying to get across.

There’s also some slap-dashed stealth elements, seemingly added in for the sake of being a “Metal Gear” game. Unfortunately, sneaking around is completely unnecessary, since Raiden can simply mow down anything he sees without much effort.

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Those who want a complex, deep and rewarding narrative should give this a rent at most, but they may be better off playing “Spec Ops,” “BioShock Infinite” or any other game with efficiently integrated gameplay narrative.

Game: Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance
Publisher: Konami
Developer: Platinum Games
Platform: 360, PS3
Genre: Action