So here's the thing: I have a thing. A thing for Japanese swords and dudes swinging them around. Also, I have a potentially even bigger thing for angular, mech-style design. Metal Gear Rising has both, so we all knew I was going to play this game. However, the point of this is not whether I played the game, but what I thought about it, so moving on...
Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance is one of the most unfortunately-named games I have ever had the pleasure of encountering. I say that intently, because I walked in expecting a poorly written script with same-y combat and a gimmick or two and instead got a tongue-in-cheek script with fantastic combat and the most entertaining inclusion to a combat system I've seen in years. Now, let's not jump the gun- I am aware that the game isn't perfect. AI is still par for the Metal Gear series, which means sophisticated cyborg soldiers will stare directly at you at not notice you while you impale their comrades... but the combat. THE COMBAT. It makes up for some of the outdated design choices and gaming norms that occasionally peek out from beneath the game's shiny exterior. Why, you may ask? Because the developer had the good sense to take a simple concept and run with it.
Swords. Y'know what's crazy? THEY CUT THINGS. When you're a cyborg and you have million-dollar enhancements to your body, THEY CUT MORE THINGS. Blade Mode, in which time slows and you have the opportunity to target and dice weakened points in the enemy's body, at first glance appears to break up the flow of combat and wrench your gears. In fact, it gives one a momentary breather and gives one the pleasure of watching whatever object you target turn into sushi. On top of that, it puts one up close, right in the middle of the battle. You feel connected to Raiden as you angle your slices to connect with exposed weak points.
I'm not going to harp about the story, because it is standard Metal Gear fare, save one element: a refined focus on the main character, for better or worse. I mean, the advertising for this game was all raiden close-ups, so go figure. I really felt as though the events of the plot were of little consequence in comparison to what was happening with Raiden as a person, and maybe that was intentional. (SPOILERS) Everything served to get Jack the Ripper boiling to the surface. Although, once he did surface, the effect was basically "Now I win" and then that element of his personality faded somewhat and merely remained as a game mechanic. I was disappointed by that conclusion to his development, and that they didn't reveal more of Jack's backstory.
Also, a quick note since video game violence is a hot-button topic these days: the intense violence is actually addressed within the game, and I found it suprisingly poignant for someone who thinks fantasy violence to be a non-issue. Even though I don't feel regret personally for killing digital peoples, Raiden's reaction to the realization that the "scum" he justified killing were people struggling to make it just like him was a great moment, and I think is a great reminder of how easily people are swallowed by self-righteousness, even in war.
*gets off soapbox*