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Games Of February 2013: Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance

We debate whether the climactic moments of Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance are really all that climactic.

By John Teti • March 18, 2013

Anthony John Agnello makes his debut on The Digest in this episode—notwithstanding his appearance on The ’Gestys—to talk about Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance, a game with ninjas, cyborgs, and elaborate email robots. It’s like a Simpsons parody of a Japanese video game, except real. Anthony knows the Metal Gear series much better than I do, so it was great to have him weigh in on this one. We disagree somewhat on the excitement of running up the side of a skyscraper, but we can both offer a solid thumbs-up on Revengeance’s breakout star: a robot dog who has a real smart mouth, except he doesn’t know he has a smart mouth because he’s a robot (and a dog), so he just says the darnedest things. Spinoff, anyone?

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73 Responses to “Games Of February 2013: Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance

  1. Jackbert says:

    The Digest keeps getting better.

    •Steve’s Magic card

    •John donning Angry Birds stickers between cuts

    •Anthony nonchalently biting a lollipop

    Sidenote: I own the entire set of 1987 Fleer baseball cards!

    • Aaron Riccio says:

      O, those poor collectors who kept their collectible cards sealed in the packages with the gum. That shit turns to colorful dust and just rubs all up in those poor, defenseless cards.

  2. Spacemonkey Mafia says:

    Historical Journalist sign-offs

    “Good night and Good luck.” -Edward R. Murrow

    “And that’s the way it is.” -Walter Cronkite

    “You’re special … enough…” -John Teti

  3. Citric says:

    I’ve only played two games by Platinum, but I think I love their whole bombastic nonsense thing. I also couldn’t tell you what Vanquish is about, though there were some space Russians and Hillary Clinton, but it’s pretty fantastic.

    • Spacemonkey Mafia says:

      So I tried Vanquish out for the first time on Friday night and it made me feel like an old-ass man.  I had no idea what in fuck-all was happening on screen, I couldn’t keep track of what any of the buttons did and all I could do was repeatedly turbo-split kick into walls like I was a member of a Dance Aerobics team trying out for the Meth Regionals.
         I think my eye-tracking and reflexes have all gone incredibly soft from playing so much Skyrim and all the languid pastoral-traipsing and occasional moose-sighting endemic to the experience.

      • Aaron Riccio says:

        I rarely have problems picking up controls, especially with all these increasingly long tutorial stages (Teti’s complaining about QTEs that remove agency — how about three-hour-long handholding sessions?). However, I find that once I pick up a game after putting it down for months at a time, I can hardly remember what I’m supposed to be doing, and if there are functions beyond basic ones like moving and jumping, I can’t remember them. 

        In some situations, especially open-world ones, this can be hilarious. 

        In others, such as coming back to The Last Remnant after six months, it’s just pointless.

        • Chum Joely says:

          Ugh, I went back to Mirror’s Edge after a couple of weeks off and I was completely useless for the first, like, 45 minutes.

          It didn’t help that I was going through a combat portion, which already has completely unintuitive controls that clashed with all the shooters I had been playing recently. Instead of R1 for attack, you use R2. This wouldn’t be so bad except that Mirror’s Edge maps R1 to a sort of midair switch-direction move that, when used on the ground, causes you to randomly spin around and fall on your ass facing the opposite direction. So I was running up to armed cops and doing my developmentally disabled pirouette quite a bit.

        • Spacemonkey Mafia says:

          @ChumJoely:disqus    To be fair, anywhere but Texas, doing a developmentally disabled pirouette should be sufficient to get the cops to leave you alone.

      • Raging Bear says:

        Good lord, I started Vanquish yesterday and had the exact same reaction. And the one time I managed to pull off a cool slidey-kick kill, it apparently drained all my energy so I couldn’t move and was immediately killed by the next enemy along, so, fun?

  4. Enkidum says:

    I’m trying to think of big setpieces in games that do actually require real input from the player.

    One that comes up for me, weirdly, is God Of War I. I know that it’s one of the worst offenders for QTEs, and essentially every boss fight has them, but if you think about something like the initial battle with the hydra, or the fight with the giant minotaur robot thing halfway through, though both have QTEs in them, they are part of a larger, quite difficult, set of actions that you have to do. And you have to figure out these actions on the fly – I remember how cool it felt when I realized that it wasn’t enough to simply beat up the side hydra heads, you had to pin them down. This wasn’t particularly telegraphed (or maybe I’m just too stupid to see the telegraphing), and so there was a process of discovery that really appealed.

    Shifting gears a little, one thing I generally don’t like that much is boss fights where it’s basically just “do the same thing you’ve been doing the whole game, only MORE”. Mass Effect I, I think, was kind of guilty of this. Shoot Saren! Shoot him more! Now he’s a jumpy frog Saren – so shoot him some more and aim carefully because he’s fast!

    • caspiancomic says:

       Yeah, the boss fights in Mass Effect were seriously weak sauce most of the time. Especially if you majored in sniper rifles at MEU. You could handle most “boss” encounters from the next town over, and the biggest threat was always cleaning up their waves of underpaid cronies before getting any good shots off.

      Also, for set pieces required increased, rather than decreased, player input, the main branch of the MGS series is actually a pretty good place to look. In MGS1 alone you’re expected to fight a tank in a minefield, fist fight a robot, duel against a professional sniper with a terrain advantage, slaughter your way to the top of a radio tower, abseil down the opposite side, fight a helicopter, fight a bipedal tank, and defend yourself during a car chase, with not one QTE in sight.

      • Effigy_Power says:

        I am going to petition Bioware to pay you a dollar for every ME-conversation you have been in, casp.
        Buy me a fun helicopter after you furnished your new, solid-gold house.

        • caspiancomic says:

          “Jeeves! Do remember to send Ms. Power a bouquet of helicopters by way of thanks.”

      • duwease says:

         You know what, you’re right.  I played MGS1 and 2, and remember loving the hell out of them.  Then I picked up 3, years and years later, and got tired of it early on.  I think in the meantime the prevailing internet summary of “cut scene game” had lodged in my head, and repressed the memory of what had made me love the games in the first place.. the feeling of jumping from set piece to set piece, each one with its own interesting mechanics that you had to learn and adjust to on the fly.  And, thinking back, that’s very rare in gaming, replaced by set pieces with identical mechanics to the rest of the game, plus or minus a couple QTE’s.

        • Andy Tuttle says:

          I love MGS 3, I think its a great story and a pretty powerful, although ridiculous, anti-war game. Story aside, what I did not like about the third game was its jump away from the Metroid style gameplay that the first two Metal Gear games had. You were no longer confined to one building, you had an entire (linear) region to explore that never really made you go back to where you once were. It may have lost some of that exploration and discovery that I really enjoyed, but overall I still think MGS 3 is a great game.

    • I think you’ve got a point with the God of War fights you’re describing. Resident Evil 4, despite also being one of the worst offenders of bad QTEs, also used some effectively. It seems that a good QTE sequences, if it’s going to limit your interaction with the game to some simon says button presses, at least needs to give you agency in choosing what QTEs to trigger. I’m thinking the boss fight in RE4 against two of the gigante enemies, where you not only had to run around the cramped arena shooting and dodging the bosses, but also manage a bunch of switches, levers, and a pair of ziplines via QTE to dunk one of the bosses in some molten lava.

      The game that gives the player the most control during big setpieces, however, is Dragon’s Dogma. The game organically flows from melee battles with goblins and bandits to desperate fights against chimeras, griffins, and cyclopes. In response, you as a player naturally shift tactics to do some amazing things like vault off of a partner to catch ahold of a griffin’s leg as it flies by, climb up on it’s back, and after another partner enchants your daggers with fire, set the griffin’s wings on fire with some quick slashes, and send the beast to the ground for the rest of your party to set upon it. And you do all of those things by cleverly combining the same skills you’ve used to fight smaller enemies.

      • BillyNerdass says:

        I’m really happy that Dragon’s Dogma sold well enough to purportedly be getting a sequel. I know people complained about it having a bland world (and it does to extent) but, man, did it have some really weird touches. Like when my character first met the duke, she was wearing a little clown hat for no reason. 

    • Aaron Riccio says:

      It’s hard for me to complain about QTEs when I grew up playing RPGs in which you basically pushed a button to do something and then waited for your characters to execute the action. (STEs — Slow/Strategic Time Events.) We’ve come a long way from that to the all-out madness of the Tales series, no? Even the RPGs that I completely love, like Persona 3, sometimes make me anxious from all the lengthy dialogue that leaves me feeling more like a reader than a gamer (to say nothing of the inability to fully control my combat, so much as to spend time outside of battle better strategizing for it). 

    • KidvanDanzig says:

      In terms of resolving “cinema” and playe agency I feel like the non-fight setpieces in Mass Effects 2 and 3 do it quite well in the form of interrupts. They look like QTEs but with the crucial distinction that they represent the player making a choice to make something happen in a cutscene, rather than the cutscene just automatically happening and saying “PRESS A REPEATEDLY WOW GOOD JOB”. Certainly the first time you stab that gunship tech in the back with his sparky tool is far more memorable than Chris Redfield wrestling a boulder.

      But yeah, ME’s boss fights were never that great. In ME2 you had a little bit more diversity in miniboss fights – Harbinger possessions, the heavy mechs, fights with gunships, those fucking scions – but they regressed in ME3, with most combat sections climaxing in the same “take down a single Atlas Mech” fight.

    • Aaron Riccio says:

      You know what’s got decent QTEs so far? The recent Tomb Raider reboot. They fit the whole “panic panic panic” mode, and they’re not all just a matter of mashing one button. (Sometimes you mash TWO buttons! Or jiggle the analog stick [something in this game had to jiggle]!)

      I still hate that “we’re going to pop up a button and give you two seconds to hit it or you’re dead” QTE. I already know that in real life I’d be dead in a knife-fight; I don’t really need to be that under-powered in a video game, too.

  5. caspiancomic says:

    Man, I only played the demo so I don’t know how qualified I am to discuss such a thing, but either parrying in Rising doesn’t work at all, or I’m an arthritic old fossil who has finally gotten too old for video games, because I never even once successfully parried an attack. I think I was following the instructions, and I even experimented with my technique throughout the demo to see if I could find something that worked, but never even once. That boss fight chewed me up and spat me out. I didn’t even stand a chance.

    Also: I need that Sonic poster like yesterday.

    • Simon Jones says:

      Well, there’s two factors there.

      Parrying is kinda poorly explained in so far as it tells you how to parry but it doesn’t actually tell you how to parry. The action is explained but it is slightly different on each type of baddy.

      And yes, You are old.

    • Steve McCoy says:

      Timing and direction are important (except on Easy). There are also two types of parry: If you do it early, you simply block, which usually pushes you back a bit and doesn’t give you any advantage. If you do it near when the enemy would hit you, you do a real parry which usually stuns the enemy. If it’s a non-boss, a real parry gives you a chance to press triangle+circle to execute the enemy.

      Sorry if that’s more descriptive than prescriptive, but after playing through the game four times, parrying is second nature to me and I can always at least block when I want.

  6. Can you guys do cuts of your videos without the eating? It’s kind of nauseating.

  7. Naked Man Holding A Fudgesicle says:

    Well this video won’t play in Chrome so I dusted off Internet Explorer and with IE it doesn’t even get that far, it just has a blank space where a video embed box should be. So in the end I just imagined the whole segment based on the screenshot on the main page, then recreated it by drawing it all out with a flip pad, doing all the voices myself as I flicked through the pages and brought the cartoons to life. The results were mixed.

    • Merve says:

      Speaking of weird video player bugs, when I play it fullscreen in Firefox, a scrollbar appears on the right side of the screen.

      • Naked Man Holding A Fudgesicle says:

        This reply is the equivalent of a guy eating a whole roast turkey in front of starving child, then complaining that the turkey needed more stuffing.

        Fine, enjoy your fancy Firefox. At least my version of the Digest featured two guys wearing nothing more than plaid jackets.

        • Merve says:

          Sounds about right. After all, I played Mr. Bumble in my high school’s production of Oliver!*

          Your version of The Digest sounds simultaneously intriguing and horrifying.

          *This story may or may not be total bullshit.

        • Electric Dragon says:

           Were they holding fudgesicles?

    • Girard says:

      Works swimmingly in my Chrome, on PC. Are you on Mac? In any case, you might want to try updating your plugins.

      • Naked Man Holding A Fudgesicle says:

        My Chrome, on PC, tells me that it is up to date. So what is more likely:

        1. Chrome has become self aware, and it is 100% correct that it is up to date because AIs know that sort of shit.

        2. This free non-Microsoft product that I have downloaded for free using a Microsoft browser to run on a Microsoft OS in order to avoid using said Microsoft browser in the future perhaps isn’t working to maximum capability.

        I’ll let you be the judge.

    • John Teti says:

      I’m sorry this is happening. It’s annoying, because The Onion tech team just got finished updating the player a few weeks ago to address other Chrome bugs. The ever-moving target of Chrome is kind of a nightmare for developers. If you have a moment and could use the A.V. Club contact page to contact the web staff (choose “Technical Problem” from the drop-down menu), they’d definitely appreciate the bug report.

      • Naked Man Holding A Fudgesicle says:

        Thank you John. I filled out the form.

        Today’s new Digest video is having the same problem unfortunately. This time I re-enacted the action with finger puppets!

  8. Simon Jones says:

    Revenganing wasn’t really all that complicated.


    Dick Cheney’s younger brother was convincing the world that Pakistan was getting all Metal Gearish and setting off nukes and killing the president and such to start a big war and boost military spending and jump start the American economy.

    I mean, yeah, some wacky Metal Gear shit goes on but the actual plot is pretty uncomplicated and substantially less stupid than, say, the captain planet-esque shennanigans of DMC.

    Some of the other stuff is…a little odder.



  9. Steve McCoy says:

    The editing when you’re talking about the dog, etc. is fantastic.

  10. Effigy_Power says:

    Mkay… so, this game looks fine, all things considered, but there is a level where stuff just needs to be dialed down.
    First of all, the protagonist looks as though a 10-year old was told to design a cyber-ninja (the word itself makes me cringe… is there even still stealth left in this game?) while also depleting the Japanese carbon fiber and LED surplus. And then the hair… sheesh… And if you go that far, why leave a human eye… anyways.
    It also seems really strange to first cut someone in half and then give him 2 more swipes on the way through his separated body. People talk about gratuitous violence a lot, this really seems a good example.
    That said, I am guessing that there isn’t much MGS left in this, right? I’ve only ever played a few minutes of the old ones and decided they are not for me, but this really seems more like the inevitable cyborg-ninja-katana reskin of God of War, at least from the videos. I know the word ‘ninja’ still makes a large amount of people foam enthusiastically from the mouth, but that appears to sort of miss the definition of ‘stealthy assassin who actually probably would rather not fight, but poison you on the can’ and turns it into ‘iSamurai on LSD rampage’. Archer appears more subtle and measured in his approach than Cloud Strife-san up there. Crazy.

    Nice Digest tho. That Teti has more flair from episode to episode. I am fully expecting him to take over for Alex Trebek once he internalized Pete Strackmeier a bit too. And also nice work Mister Agnello, one of the few GS-staffers I haven’t drawn yet… to be remedied as soon as I can be bothered.

    PS: I had that exact candy and it’s gut-rippingly awful. The taste of the lolly actually reminded me more of a bag of water-soluble flavor crystals that have been left out a bit too long, used with far too little water.
    I agree however that it will cut up your insides. Have fun with that.

    • rvb1023 says:

       To be fair, it wasn’t meant to be an MGS game at all, hence the different titling. It was meant to be an over-the-top action game and in that regard I feel it succeeded. I wouldn’t even be surprised is this ends up not canon in anyway, though for the time being all future MGS titles seem to be looking to the past (Ground Zeroes, The Phantom Pain).

    • Thats_A_Paddlin says:

      If I saw this and didn’t know it was from the Metal Gear franchise, I wouldn’t even give it a second glance.  It looks terrible.  He does look like a Cloud Strifebot.

  11. uselessyss says:

    Anthony John Agnello reminds me of a record producer.

    I would imagine he has more than a few gold albums on his wall.

  12. His_Space_Holiness says:

    That sombrero is a genius disguise. No one would notice a seven-foot-tall mechanical man in full serape in Mexico. And they said Revengeance was abandoning stealth!

    • Spacemonkey Mafia says:

      If you re-watch Three Amigos, you can spot Raiden in one of the crowd scenes at the climax of the film.
         He’s not going to let El Guapo walk all over him any longer!

    • Fluka says:

      Cyborg wearing a ridiculous sombrero + robot dog = Reconsidering my non-ownership of a PS3?

    • Swadian Knight says:

      One of the characters in the video reacts to Raiden’s disguise by asking “¿Ese sombrero que?”, which is literally ‘THIS HAT WHAT?’ in spanish.

      It’s the perfect disguise for a ninja cyborg – since you can’t blend in that easily, just wear something so ridiculous that people lose the ability to voice their objections.

  13. Histamiini says:

    The videos are my favorite feature on this site and they should be more frequent.

    To put this in language people here will understand: I “Like” this feature. You could say that when I see something I enjoy, I click a button inside my mind.

  14. Thats_A_Paddlin says:

    I’m out of touch.  So are they abandoning the Sold series with Snake?  I haven’t played since MGS3.

    • Matt Gerardi says:

      Nah. This is just a spinoff. There’s at least one more Solid game in development right now, Metal Gear Solid: Ground Zeroes. There’s also a butt-ton of speculation that a Metal Gear Solid 5 is in the works as well, but nothing official yet. 

      It’s actually a really interesting time for Metal Gear speculation. Konami “announced” a game called The Phantom Pain that, by all accounts, is a fake game developed by a fake developer (the CEO’s name is an anagram of Kojima) and is just a front for MGS5. No one does bizarre game marketing better than Hideo. 

  15. Cloks says:

    I liked the cut back to John proudly wearing the stickers (temporary tattoos?) on his face. I haven’t played the game in question but this review made me a lot less interested in a future purchase than I was before.

  16. hominu says:

    I don’t really understand how someone can miss that the storyline of this game is
    a) raiden needs to save the CHILDREN’s BRAINS from VIRTUAL SLAVERY and prevent 9/11 GIANT ANT MECH ADDITION

    and also miss that

    b) that the red flash means you are supposed to parry.

    but I suppose it’s okay, you guys got a lot of content to produce. Maybe some more articles comparing pop culture thing #1 to recent game X would fill up the site more?

    Also enjoyed the comparison to Noh theatre because mgs is a) preachy 
    b) weird

    good use of arts degree there.

  17. Andy Tuttle says:

    Don’t sell yourself short John, there has to be more than thousands of us, maybe tens of thousands, right?