No one saw this coming. DmC Devil May Cry was assaulted with doubts and controversy thanks to its re-imagining of Dante, all the way up until its release. Then the reviews started rolling in and everyone shut up. DmC is one of the best games of 2013 so far. From the combat to the graphics, music, and story, DmC is an instant classic that Ninja Theory should be ridiculously proud of.
Enter Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance. In some ways, Revengeance had similar doubts surrounding it. No one denies Bayonetta developer Platinum’s expertise in the character action genre, but they still had a lot to prove. After all, like Ninja Theory, Platinum was saddled with the impossible expectations of a long-running franchise.
Considering the stakes, they did a pretty decent job. Revengeance is a solid game that earns its place in the Metal Gear series. But man, if you’re going to choose one of these games, please, please make it DmC. Here’s why:
DmC has taste (in its own weird way)
DmC’s revision of Dante paints him as a rebellious, anti-establishment smart ass. The otherworldly demons he fights are represented in the real world by corporations, corrupt news organizations and energy drinks. His crew communicates between worlds with graffiti tags. It’s all a little silly on the surface, but DmC sells the concept through a creative and consistent vision.
Love and care were put into developing each character, and it’s obvious that Ninja Theory spent time ensuring Dante was more than a one-dimensional prick. DmC bleeds respect for the franchise, smartly westernizing Devil May Cry without betraying its core ideals, and instead strengthening them. This is a smarter Dante for a smarter era in gaming.
Metal Gear Rising, conversely, feels a bit behind the times. If you’re looking for the more scathing commentary of the United States, Revengeance wins by a landslide, but it desperately falters trying to constantly top itself. The Metal Gear series has silly moments, but Revengeance almost feels like parody, making a mockery of the series. Meanwhile, DmC handles its source material with thoughtful care.
I'm not embarrassed by DmC
If there’s one consistent theme among character action games, it’s an overwhelming sense of perviness. From God of War’s sex mini-game to Ninja Gaiden covering its leather-clad, busty dominatrix character in glistening slime, this genre has had some cringe-inducing moments.
When Metal Gear Rising introduced its all-Cyborg army of enemies, I didn’t think there was much room for anything like that. Then Mistral shows up and they manage to squeeze in some weirdly rape-y imagery for no real reason. Also, there’s hidden posters of Japanese swimsuit models, just because.
I’m not usually one to complain about this stuff. I mean, Bayonetta was a pretty great game in my opinion, and MGR’s brief eye-rolling moments are largely forgettable. It’s just really nice to get a break from it all. DmC’s sexuality is subdued, fun, and walks a fine line to remain appealing to both sexes.
Oh, and while we’re talking about embarrassment… that soundtrack! Metal Gear Rising, I shake my head and sigh in your general direction.
DmC’s combat has more depth
What’s all this nonsense about taste and aesthetics if the gameplay isn’t a part of the discussion too. Again, DmC manages to take top honors here because it offers more depth. Metal Gear Rising plays at notions of depth, but it’s mostly because the controls are unique, takes some getting used to, and the game does a terrible job of explaining most of them.
It’s so easy to boil MGR’s gameplay down to some simple button-mashing. Parrying attacks may take incredible timing, but the block Raiden pulls off with a mistimed parry works just fine. Most fights can be reduced to mashing on forward and light attack until the enemy opens up, and then going Tak Fuji on their a**es…
DmC, on the other hand, regularly challenges you to utilize a variety of attacks. Not only does it score you based on combo variety, but there are many attacks that are designed to be used in certain situations. You have a vast toolbox with Dante, and employing all his tricks is immensely satisfying.
You can beat MGR twice and get bored of it before you could finish DmC once
The length of a game can be a big sticking point with some people, and a joke to others. There’s no hard and fast rule — every game and genre comes with a different set of expectations. That said, Metal Gear Rising is quite brief. A game can be four hours long, but if it’s a good four hours and the game is meant to be replayed, that’s not so bad. MGR generally abides by that notion, with several difficulty levels and extras to keep you coming back.
However, what’s replayability when I managed to complete MGR on normal and hard difficulties in less time than it took to finish DmC once? Both games have the same suite of difficulties and unlockables to keep you coming back, but DmC is twice the length without unnecessary filler.
MGR's most unique environment is…Denver!?
Metal Gear Rising may have the most drab and boring collection of combat environments to grace a video game since F.E.A.R. Office building, check! City street, check! Sewer, check! Laboratory, check! The most notable aspect of the whole thing is that a large chunk of it takes place in Denver — Denver, of all places!
DmC’s environments, on the other hand, may be the game’s biggest strength. Every environment seems to be convulsing with energy. City streets bend and twist, rip apart, and undulate. The entire game is constantly in motion and the effect is beautiful. To spoil some of DmC’s later environments would be criminal.
My point here isn’t to bash Metal Gear Rising as much as it is to sing DmC’s praises. I couldn’t keep DmC off of my mind through my playthrough of Rising. Upon a second playthrough of MGR on hard, I’d felt the last of its charms wear off as the combat system became boring and rote. For some, the promise of Very Hard mode’s remixed enemies were enough, but for me, the Son of Sparda kept calling.