Stick it up your Janus
In the midst of a game where we’re meant to believe the protagonist has agonised over the death of the first human she’s ever killed, it’s something of a stretch to then have her suddenly forget all about that and happily smash in the skulls of every person she comes across in a blood frenzy.
Unlawful charnel knowledge
The schizophrenic Lara then switches back to worrying about her sense of self-preservation, despite the fact she’s clearly got the killing power of the Terminator. It presumably stems from a disharmonious blending of gameplay and script, the gameplay director only being brave enough to keep the action realistic for so long before gifting Lara the equivalent of superpowers.
I’m positive that most won’t see a problem. Games are games after all and we expect to suspend a certain amount of disbelief while playing. But when story and action are so contrasting it’s hard not to wonder why and how the design team failed to spot such a glaring contradiction. Especially when you consider that a stronger focus on non-lethal stealth would have benefitted both the experience and the believability...
Revengeance is a dish best served cold
And so we come to Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance, my pick for best game of the last few weeks. Not only because it’s so darn cool - just look at that name - but because it shows how an established series might be reimagined by a different developer and so transplanted into a whole different genre. This is something I’d like to see more of by similarly brave publishing houses.
That the developer in question is Platinum Games should tell you the type of reimagining Revengeance is. The game going down the Bayonetta route as it places the returning Raiden at the heart of a game that swaps Metal Gear Solid’s stealth for outrageous action.
Rule one: never fight in high heels
At its heart is Raiden’s sword, the samurai (by now more machine than man) capable of slicing his enemies apart limb-by-limb. Indeed harvesting rival cyborg’s cleaved parts forms a large part of the action, hands yielding ID tags and other innards replenishing energy.
Successfully parrying attacks is the key to the game, a good defence opening hostiles up to more powerful attacks, including the chance to take advantage of Raiden’s attuned senses to gain the illusion of slowed time where katana blows can be aimed more accurately.
As was the case in Bayonetta, the challenge is to combine moves, with practiced players soon cutting a trail of destruction through enemy lines. And, unlike the contrary Tomb Raider, this game’s plot even sees fit to challenge such a thirst for blood. The touch of Metal Gear creator Hideo Kojima is apparent during scenes where Raiden considers the rights and wrongs of bloody vengeance.
Revengeance isn’t without its issues. Enemies could do with having more model variation, the camera is a tad cumbersome - though I like to think of that as Raiden having a blind spot - and the game, while not as short as some gamers would have you believe, certainly could have used some added scenes.
Repeated play-throughs do prove rewarding, however, with the combat so frenetic that fights rarely conclude in the same way twice. Perseverance will also hone your own technique to quite ridiculous levels too, and for the first time since Bayonetta - with the possible exception of DmC: Devil May Care - you’re left with an action game that provides both ingenuity and a genuine challenge.
It’s a return to form for Platinum Games following the disappointing Anarchy Reigns - and a warning shot to genre pretenders that Bayonetta 2 is coming to get them.
Re: A few comments
Ironclad said: "Plus joypads suck, keyboards and mice for teh win."
This is the key, and belongs up top, way ahead of clock speeds, cores, or polygon capacity. The 'console' as we know it is defined by a painfully 'low-bandwidth' user interface, the ubiquitous gamepad. This feeble device is the chief constraint on console gaming. It offers basic four-way directional control, and a minimal number of buttons, thereby severely restricting the human-game interaction. Witness the Sony PS4 launch, where we saw nearly photo-realistic characters jerking around like insanely detailed 3D versions of Pac-Man. Rendering just doesn't matter - there is simply no way the player can move their onscreen avatar with anything resembling real-life fluidity.
There's another point, equally important. Gamepads have the wrong TYPE of control. They control velocity, not position. Rotation, not angle. (It's a first-derivative thing, if you recall any high-school calculus). This is simply NOT the way humans think and move. When I turn to my friend, I'm rotating to THIS angle... not STARTING rotation, waiting, then STOPPING rotation. Similarly, if I aim a weapon, I don't START sweeping to the right, then STOP. I turn a few degrees right. I turn TO a given location, not AT a given rate.
Taken together, the limitations of the gamepad result in dumbed-down games. Good console games are built around those limitations, so players may not notice what's been done. But the richness and depth of a PC game like ArmA, or Flight Simulator, or Civilization, or even Battlefield, is simply not on the menu. (It's easy to think of other examples.)
Add the openness of the PC ecosystem, and the gap widens still further. The new 'social' features of the PS4 emphasize this gap, rather than narrowing it. Yes, you can press "Share." On the PC, you can connect to multiple services simultaneously. You can count on developers finding new ways to deliver games, sell games, tie games into resources that don't even exist yet. You can count on a 'mod' community inventing anything the developers miss. (And in turn spurring commercial development to new achievements.) This vibrant ecosystem will always produce faster evolution than a console monoculture.
To go back to the car analogy, it's more like the difference between a train and a helicopter. The train can switch tracks, at pre-determined points. It can go faster or slower. The helicopter can wander freely in three-space. The train is constrained by a cumbersome switching system, operated by a very limited number of corporate bodies. The helicopter can be privately owned, and hence upgraded or modified, taken 'off the grid,' to locations not served by the rail network.
Of course, even that strained comparison falls short of capturing the actual gulf we're talking about. A gulf that will continue to widen, given that the growing power of the PC will not be constrained by the human interface, while the advancing clock cycles of a PS4 or even PS5 will be increasingly wasted, as far as gameplay potential.
Re: A few comments
"In car terms both of them have (console / PC) have an engine which produces 500bhp. But the PC weighs in at 3 tonnes and only has rear wheel drive. The console weighs in at 1.7 tonnes and is 4 wheel drive. It's lighter and has more grip off the line (sorry I've been watching a lot of top gear lately)"
Ok, it's Friday and post lunch so I'll take that car analogy challenge and raise it some:
The PC can be fitted with superior cooling and then have the CPU and Graphics Card overclocked (Nitrous and Turbocharged), it can also be fitted with an SSD drive (slick tyres?) while the console has to be stock clocked or even underclocked in order to avoid overheating it's tiny box . So the PC is the drag racer, while the console is the production line machine. If you watched Top Gear a few weeks back when they drove around the U.S.A you'll know how that turned out.
Plus joypads suck, keyboards and mice for teh win.
FPS on a console (no keyboard and mouse) is like sex with the world's thickest condom.