Revengeance is a real word, you know. It’s an obsolete, and a mite ostentatious, form of ‘revenge’. But my, how ostentatious is Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance! The tutorial level’s mid-point is a fight with a robot dinosaur where you leap between its missiles in mid-air and ultimately cut it in half lengthwise, coolly sheathing your sword as it explodes behind you. The tutorial!
I’m glad that we’re awarding Revengeance a trophy for Bestest Best Word, because if it were Bestest Best Ridiculous Amazing Oh Gosh Wow Just The Best Fighting, I wouldn’t be equipped to write about it. That’s something I’ll never fully experience or understand, and more’s the pity.
Anyway, back to that Bestest Best Word and its ostentatiousness. Made by the wonderful Platinum Games, Revengeance is a big bouncy happy spectacle with cyborgs, set-pieces, robot dinosaurs, robot wolves, a ludicrous yet fun plot, heavy metal, and cutting everything into little pieces with cyberswords, cybersai, giant cyberscissors, and a polearm made of cyberarms.
Dolts like me might happily cut our way through the game, enjoying how over-the-top it all is. We’ll mash buttons and spin around, chopping things up, and occasionally feel cool when we dodge an attack nicely or neatly finish enemies off with slow-motion spine-removing attacks. It’ll be fun and pleasant and gorgeous and exciting and silly and a pretty great ride.
Now, if we were to award Revengeance a prize for Bestest Best Ridiculous Amazing Oh Gosh Wow Just The Best Fighting, that’d be another matter. Revengeance teaches you to cut things well enough to finish the game and enjoy it, but that’s showing off what it can do. The Revengeance I long to play is the game Revengeance becomes once you’re good at it, the game that’s about what you can do.
Revengeance’s combat system is crammed full of bits skilled players can exploit – cancels, dodge offsets, parries, invincibility frames, timings, and tricks Platinum doesn’t even tell you about. These become crucial at higher difficulties, and mastering the combat is a game in itself.
Rich Stanton wrote for us about Revengeance and its replayability, “This is not about alternative story branches or new areas to discover, but a core system that is so flexible and large that it has to be gradually unfolded to new players.” I like the term Aztez combat designer Ben Ruiz uses in writing about Platinum’s comparable Bayonetta series, saying that Bayonetta has a “secret game” within it – trying to play it well. You can finish Revengeance barely noticing that game.
Alas, I’m all fingers and thumbs. I haven’t had the time (or, more realistically, dedication) to master it. I am bad at Revengeance. I have played the tourist’s version. I had a ball, but the real Revengeance is a game I’ve only seen others play. I hugely enjoyed watching the Let’s Play by Chip and Ironicus, being shown around a game which looks familiar but seems so massively different. I respect, appreciate, and am fascinated by that game I suspect I’ll never play.
But Revengeance didn’t win Bestest Best Ridiculous Amazing Oh Gosh Wow Just The Best Fighting, it won Bestest Best Word. It is a pretty good word, isn’t it? And one fitting for such a fine spectacle.
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