Have I failed myself, my fans, and the Metal Gear series by not being harsh enough on Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance? Did I give it a free pass when I should have cut it limb from limb? Some people think so.
The following is a response I received regarding my review of MGR:R, from a reader named Typocorism, explaining the importance and danger of Revengeance. My responses are included.
NOTE: The following was not written by me — Mr. Wolfe — but instead by a friendly reader named “Typocorism”. It was emailed to me in response to my Revengeance review. My own comments are included at the bottom of each page.
The Reviews Are In
You seem to be under the impression that just because Metal Gear Rising doesn’t deserve to matter, it actually doesn’t matter. You’d like to believe that because it’s a non-Kojima-created spinoff like Portable Ops and the AC!D series, it’ll have the same reception and meet the same fate.
You’d be horribly wrong. Yes, I fully agree that MGR doesn’t deserve to matter, and shouldn’t matter – but hey, the U.S. government shouldn’t be spying on its own citizens either, and yet it is!
If I were to argue that the scope of the NSA’s spying activities is nowhere near as big or consequential as is being claimed by media conspiracy theorists, and cite as evidence the fact that 1) the U.S. government has never previously engaged in spying activities of such a scope on its own citizens (which is true), and 2) neither I nor any of my friends/family/casual acquaintances has been victimized by this alleged spying (also true), you’d still laugh – and rightfully so! – at my willful ignorance of the overwhelming amounts of easily-obtained empirical evidence that the NSA’s reach is much bigger than I’m willing to admit. So now we have you arguing that MGR’s popularity is nowhere near as big or consequential as is being claimed by deluded fanboys, citing as evidence the fact that 1) no previous MG spinoff has ever enjoyed such a level of popularity and significance (which is true), and 2) you and most or all of the people you know do not give any shits about the game (also true, I’m guessing). Unfortunately, you’re ignoring the overwhelming amounts of easily-obtained empirical evidence that MGR is several orders of magnitude more popular, more well-promoted, and just downright more respected by not only the Metal Gear fandom but also the gaming community at large than any previous MG spinoff.
First, let’s take a look at the Metacritic numbers for AC!D, AC!D 2, Portable Ops, and MGR (I’m ignoring all the Japan-only games, as well as Ghost Babel because it’s not recent enough, and Snake’s Revenge for every reason imaginable):
# of critics: 45
User Score: 6.7
# of user ratings: 64
Years since release: 9 (averaging worldwide release dates)
# of critics: 51
User Score: 8.3
# of user ratings: 19
Years since release: 8 (averaging worldwide release dates
# of critics: 54
User Score: 8.3
# of user ratings: 119
Years since release: 7 (averaging worldwide release dates)
Metal Gear Rising:
Metascore: 80 (PS3) / 82 (XBOX)
# of critics: 61 (PS3) / 46 (XBOX)
User Score: 7.8 (PS3 & XBOX)
# of user ratings: 576 (PS3) / 296 (XBOX)
Years since release: 1
The first thing you’ll notice(1) is that even though MGR has been out for less than 15% of the time that any of the other spinoffs have been out, it has over 300% more (872 – 202 = 672 = over 300% of 202) user ratings than all three other spinoffs COMBINED. Even if we generously assume that all the Xbox reviewers also played and reviewed the PS3 version, that’s still more than twice as many reviews as the other three combined. 576 reviews in a year versus 119/7 = 17 a year average for Portable Ops, its next closest competitor. And even if we consider that most of those 119 reviews came within a year or two after its release, that’s still at BEST 119/year which is just 20% of MGR’s review rate. (Bonus: 343 reviews for the PC version of MGR – I checked, they are all exclusively about the PC version – which has only been out for TWO MONTHS.)
I could end my argument here and I would still have provided more proof that MGR is significant and A Big Deal than you’ve provided proof that it is inconsequential and “no one cares.” But hey, while you’re at it, check out MGR’s numbers against the numbers of main-series games like Peace Walker or even the numbered MGS games. Only MGS4 has a comparable reviews-per-year ratio. Even if you add up the reviews for the other games between all their different iterations (like PSP PW + HD PW + HD Collection PW), MGR still has the greatest reviews-per-year ratio after MGS4.
I shouldn’t have to point out the obvious correlation between review number and popularity.(2) And Metacritic is only one review aggregation site, which just means that there are even more reviews of MGR exclusive to other sites, adding to the number of total reviews for it (there would also be more reviews of the other MGS games exclusive to other sites, but I highly doubt the numbers there would paint a different picture of MGR’s popularity). Plus, these are only the players who bothered to review, which means there are many many other people who played MGR and didn’t write about it. The fact remains that a mere year after MGR’s release, I can look at just one of the hundreds of game review sites and already find 576+ players who cared enough about MGR to pick a number and write a few sentences about it, which is more than can be said for any other Metal Gear game INCLUDING THE MAIN SERIES GAMES except MGS4.
And why end the evidence there? I put up the actual ratings for a reason. Yes, MGR’s ratings from both “official” critics and ordinary users are anywhere from 5-10% lower than the same for nearly any of the other Metal Gear games, including the much-maligned Twin Snakes (in fact, only the original AC!D scores lower than MGR)(3). But considering the volume of reviews MGR’s gotten? Having anything close to the 8/10 mark – let alone surpassing it – is astounding, because that means literally hundreds of people gave the game 8’s, 9’s, and 10’s. If the gaming community at large felt MGR was as forgettable and insignificant as the other spinoffs, there’s no way the game would have gotten enough favorable reviews out of 600+ to merit better than a 7/10. As it stands, MGR across all three iterations has more 8’s, 9’s, and 10’s than all the other spinoffs combined even have reviews.
(1) The first thing I actually notice is that all of the games except Rising are on handheld platforms that are notoriously unpopular. PSP games are always going to have less attention, especially when the series is known for being console exclusive.
(2) There are also many more reviewers in 2013 than there were in the past. Have you looked at what qualifies as a “critic” on Metacritic? I don’t recognize half of the places, and many of them didn’t exist a few years ago.
(3) We know that “8/10” in game reviews means “5/10” from a movie reviewer. “Hot Shots Golf: Out of Bounds” has a score of 81. “Hasbro Family Game Night: Scrabble” has a score of 79. “Hitman: Sniper Challenge” has a score of 80. “Blur” has a score of 82. Have you even heard of most of these games? Would you argue that they’re also “important”? Some of them may have gotten 9’s and 10’s!