Have You Played? is an endless stream of game retrospectives. One a day, every day, perhaps for all time.

The dawning of a year means a little more of what was once the near-future is now the present. While most games set in 2018 squandered this just-out-of-reach year by simply speculating that sports teams might have slightly different lineups–a shameful lack of vision from PES 2018 and NBA 2K18–one dreamed big. 2018 is the year of Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance. 2018 is the year to swordfight a giant robodinosaur. Here in 2018, we drink from spines. In 2018 a US senator tries to spark international war as part of a plan to– and he actually says this–“make America great again.” It’s 2018 and hell, I’ll take any excuse to talk about Revengeance again.

Made by Bayonetta devs PlatinumGames, Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance hit consoles in 2013 then PC in 2014. It’s more of the Bayonetta-y hack ‘n’ slash action that Platinum do so well (and explain so poorly), this time set in Hideo Kojima’s sensible world of Metal Gear.

Yes, this means plenty of cutscene conversations about “the war economy”, the nature of violence, duty, causes, and nanomachines. It also means befriending a robot dog who doesn’t laugh at your jokes, attacking people with a polearm made of arms, and being kicked around by a US senator who boasts about his sporting prowess in between explaining how he wants to stoke war so America can be reborn as a libertarian paradise. Having recently revisited the po-faced Metal Gear Solid V, I’m enjoying remembering how Revengeance happily blends pontificating, goofiness, action, and huge robotic animals. I like my Metal Gear simultaneously self-serious and silly.

I still beam thinking about how one of the opening level’s boss battles (not even the final one!) is against a robodinosaur and the music builds to shout “RULES OF NATURE!” when you parry its swordarm and fling it into the sky.

Video games are amazing.

I wish I was better at Revengeance. I wish I hadn’t skipped years of hack ‘n’ slash games so I didn’t get frustrated fumbling my way through. I know there’s a beautiful heart to its fighting, one I’ve seen in Let’s Plays (the one by Chip and Ironicus is fab), but I only feel that in fleeting moments. When I dodge through a cloud of swinging blades, perfectly parry an attack, cut off the enemy’s legs in slow-motion and keep going until I yank out their robospine and crack it open to shower in robojuice, then spin around and do the same to the rest of the group, it feels amazing. Going through again now, I’m really trying to learn. I want to be as good as Revengeance deserves.

Oh, and Revengeance is still going cheap in Steam’s winter sale, down to £4.99/€4.99/$7.49.

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