Metal Gear M---er July! | Frenetic Violence & Retrograde Technoactive Progression

Okay, this will probably be the last entry I have focusing on Revengeance. I'm hopping around the Legacy Collection right now and have already found about eight other things that could fill up a moderately sized post so it's time for me to move on.

I honestly wouldn't mind seeing another Rising, but I've resigned to it being for what I would consider the wrong reasons. I'd mostly want another title to see what Platinum could fully do with the system they put out for this game, not another Metal Gear game (I could care less for that selling point, on multiple levels at this point no less). To clarify, from what I understand, Platinum was handed Kojima Production's mess to clean up as after the latter's concept fell apart in the design process at some point[1]; this left Platinum to fix up and present us with what we received earlier in February in about half the time of what is considered a normal development time period.

So what did I value most in Rising's mechanical nuance? What stands out most to me is that the game is based more around defense rather than building combos or any sort of outright offensive tactics. This makes it stand out in the character-slasher genre at large too.  Revengeance's entire meat and potatoes is based on that damn parry mechanic, particularly at the high-level stuff[2]. It's split-second timing, but it's also the only thing that really requires any sort of mastery (especially if you've played these kind of games before).

I didn't much value the Zandatsu (cutting manually/directly dependent on how you swing the analog sticks) mechanic, though it was about as well-implemented as it was gonna be. I hardly ever used it, though I was intrigued by how much variation occurred in how people would often make use of it when they had to. There's a different control scheme to manipulate it and there's multiple ways to actually swing the the swords. For example, I personally had to switch and contort my right hand to do it properly (I used the face buttons and not the sticks) and I was so used to it by the time I found out there was a different control method, I was too invested in how I had been doing it to switch.

As much as another Raiden-centric game in this series interested me, it was Blade Wolf who presented me with the most interesting questions as far as Rising's protagonists went. Mostly because I find the rather pseudo-cyberpunk dystopic reality that a post-Patriots world would mean kind of fascinating. Were the game actually more clever than what Platinum and KP's writers seemed to be able to provide, it may have even been a transhumanist game of sorts. What's there currently is only window-dressing for Platinum to flex its action-based muscles.

They tried to make up for it by providing the usual Metal Gear landmarks (notably a mostly well-researched jumble of codec information), but I just wasn't buying the entire package at the end of the day. There was some good questions in this game however that never get 'asked' properly.

  • A.I.s and their overall relevance in society is what Blade Wolf represents and his entire arc rests on him coming to grips with the freedom that Raiden grants him after initially defeating him. Metal Gear Solid 2 took things in a very interesting  (albeit dark) direction with this (which Guns of the Patriots subsequently ruined), so it's possible to have it come up again, but who knows if it will---at least in this series anyway.
  • Cyberization and how it pervades humanity briefly gets touched on in the codec conversations, but it's really only focused on in relevance to Raiden's life. In reality, this is a world we're not too far off from (okay, we won't be throwing around nuclear launching platforms with our bare hands any time soon but you get what I'm talking about). Eventually humanity will be presented with the option to use technology to preserve/enhance their own body/lives and they'll jump onto it like a drowning person to a lifeboat if for no other reason than fear of their own mortality. As far as gaming goes, you can already see it occurring on a microcosmic scale with how certain system mechanics, design methodologies and feature enhancements are more and more valued as certain generations get older and new ones grow up not knowing much of what came before. Some of these things we're at the point where we very much cannot function without them either[3]. Rising considers just enough of how the politics, the existentialism, and outright horror it presents to get itself into trouble, but not near enough to garner any respect from it.
  • The antagonists and their dogmatic adherence to the war economy that serves as the grail they're all chasing It comes off as a badly humorous facsimile of what Kojima began establishing in Metal Gear Solid 4 and Peace Walker (which were admittedly only slightly less ridiculous). It's a shame because the style Platinum/KP grants some of these characters makes them appear interesting but in reality, they're not. They're just there to make the moment feel fuck-awesome and nothing else. It's why the game has it all culminate in the hilarity that is Steven Armstrong towards its conclusion.
  • The global nature of everything going on. As the silliest Metal Gear game, it's no surprise that it's the first game to do this.  The player will move from Africa, to Mexico, then to Colorado, and end their journey in Pakistan. All previous Metal Gear games have been rather focused in their setting which I think allows for a more coherent/meaningful tale to be told, but the way Revengeance zoomed me around earth reminds me of a movie I saw recently that did the same thing and had it come off in a similar manner: World War Z. In fact, this quote from a recent The Dissolve article on WWZ is eerily reminiscent of my feelings towards Revengeance as a whole: 
    "It’s diverting enough—and I agree that the closing suspense sequence was money well spent—but the film suggests just enough ambition to get it into trouble. I would have an easier time accepting the lack of zombies-as-metaphor or other real-world implications if World War Z didn’t open up that discussion. I won’t give away how it ends here, but suffice to say, the scope widens beyond what I think this movie can support."[4]
    Oh, well---at least the Africa sequence is granted more sincerity than what the likes of Resident Evil 5 could provide... 
  • The hyper-violence. Metal Gear Rising does not shy away from the violence, but it also has a very easy out in how it's presented. Death occurs wantonly, gore is abundant, but it's also very technologically weighted. Soldiers in this world have undergone cyberization to the degree where more than half their body is mechanical and the data processes their brain initiates is more digital than organic[5]. Again, an interesting thing to consider, but it's not used in any deft manner. The violence in the same vein could hold more weight were it granted some gravitas, but it never happens. To be as redundant as I possibly fucking can, it's there to look cool and nothing else---which it does mind you but it's such a sad concession to make at the end of the day.
The only reason I'm not really personally antagonizing this game more is because Kojima and co. has shown their hand creatively with the series at large and it scares the hell out of me. The last two games Kojima personally directed and designed in the franchise are two that I consider outright messes, so I can't fault Platinum Games with Rising past a certain extent. I had fun with it, and I'll be on board if they're ever granted the chance to work on a sequel from the get-go and not just handed the failed remains of an earlier concept again. Perhaps a game like Revengeance just veers too close to some personal favorites I can't have it dancing around with this kind of stupid-ass grin on its face (Metal Gear at its creative peak, fiction like Ghost in the Shell, etc.).

I just get lost an angry when I honestly consider it happening over and over again.

  1. Rising's Development - Wikipedia [Link]
  2. Me battling the most recent Rising DLC's final boss on the highest difficulty. Notice how 75% the fight is me blocking outlandishly brutal looking attacks. [Link]
  3. It certainly makes this scene in Guns of the Patriots where soldiers are forced to experience reality without the support infrastructure of the SOP system take on a new (and rather amusing) light. [Link]
  4. The Dissolve discusses the films of the summer (so far) [Link]
  5. Metal Gear Wikia - Cyborg [Link]

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