I had not originally planned on reviewing the latest entry in the Metal Gear series, since by all appearances it seemed so inaccessible as to be impossible even to review. But when the critics began to complain about Aliens: Colonial Marines (the original game slotted for this week’s review), I decided to switch titles. Surprisingly, I was glad I did.
Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance is far from perfect, but it is not the completely inaccessible quagmire that I was expecting. In fact, I was able to progress through the entire game, with few problems, in roughly three days. However, I think I am the exception rather than the rule in this case, and Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance would pose much greater problems to most disabled gamers.
Players with visual impairments may struggle with this game’s radar, since it is color coded and only displays enemies as small red dots on a blue field that takes up less than 10% of the screen. In addition, optional objectives are coded in green while mission waypoints are coded in yellow, but the symbol is identical. However, during my play through, I rarely found myself using the color-coded portions of the radar, and this should probably only function as a small barrier, since the main goal of Revengeance is to hack through everything in sight.
The bigger problem will be in the fuel cell gauge, since it is color coded and is key to using the game’s ripper mode and blade mode. On the up side, the health meter is not color coded and features a clear numbering system in addition to a health bar that give players an exact percentage of what their health is at. The fuel cell bar is what controls Raiden’s special abilities. Blade mode drains fuel and ripper mode can only be activated when the fuel gauge is completely filled. Unfortunately, the only way that the game tells you the difference is the color, or by watching the tiny line as it fills the fuel cell bar. As a result, players will either have to be able to see fine details, or distinguish between yellow, blue, and red in order to make full use of this feature. The blade mode (which is the game’s main gimmick) suffers from an even deeper level of visual inaccessibility, since the ultimate payoff of blade mode is to cut your enemy in a particular spot, which allows Raiden to refill his health and his fuel cells. However, this can’t be done whenever Raiden meets an enemy. He first has to soften their defenses.
The way the game lets you know that the enemy is ready for a Zandatsu attack is by highlighting them with a blue static, which can be hard to see, especially given the game’s tendency to have very hectic combat scenarios. But in my play through I found myself activating the blade mode and not paying attention to the static, and it worked out just fine, so this may not be as big of a problem as it seems. Also, the very first boss in this game can only be attacked at certain areas which are highlighted using small symbols, which, again, tend to be lost in the game’s hectic combat.
Players with fine motor disabilities should exercise caution when deciding whether to buy Revengeance, because the game is rife with quick time events. There are at least thirty scripted QTEs, and in a game that only has eight levels, that should tell something about the frequency of these. In addition, QTEs can pop up mid-combat if Raiden is able to execute a particularly spectacular series of attacks. But most of these can be ignored, and those that couldn’t be ignored were slow enough to progress through without help. I was even able to make it to the final stage of the final boss fight (which is chock full of QTEs) with no trouble.
This game is a typical hack-and-slash RPG, which means that players have to have quick reflexes if they hope to succeed. Players will have to be able to use both hands with the controller, to execute such maneuvers as holding down a shoulder button with one hand and using the buttons on the face of the controller with the other. Even worse is the fact that blocking requires players to tilt the joystick from a neutral position towards the attacking enemy while pressing the attack button. This is an extremely hard mechanic to master and could only be managed by turning automatic blocking on when selecting easy difficulty. Combine that with the fact that there is no customization for the buttons on the face of the controller and that only the sticks and shoulder buttons can be reassigned, and you have a game that looks like it provides too many barriers to be enjoyable for those with fine motor disabilities.
But I want to stress one good thing about this game: the gameplay is extremely forgiving. Button mashing is a legitimate strategy and feels satisfying, and there are lots of opportunities to regain health, either by using the Zandatsu or by picking up nanopaste.
Players who should definitely check out this game are those with hearing disabilities, because unlike other games with the Metal Gear name, this game does not rely on stealth and therefore does not require players to listen to their surroundings. It is true that there are a couple of moments where you are encouraged to use stealth, and it is a disappointment that this game only uses auditory cues to tell players which enemies are aware of them and are about to attack them. But players are never required to use stealth; therefore this shouldn’t affect most hearing impaired gamers. The more important element is the game’s story, which features a set of subtitles that are relatively faithful to what is actually being said.
On the whole, Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance has some major accessibility challenges, but the gameplay is so forgiving and fun that that it’s definitely worth a rental if not a full-blown purchase.
Overall Rating: Partially Accessible
Visual Rating: Partially Accessible
Fine-Motor Rating: Partially Accessible
Auditory Rating: Thoroughly Accessible
GameInformer Score: 7.75
The Bottom Line for Disabled Gamers: Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance
– Nothing in the majority of the gameplay requires the ability to see fine detail or color.
– The game uses a color coded radar system.
– Extremely forgiving gameplay.
– Gamers must have fast reflexes.
-Thorough set of subtitles to communicate story dialogue and some in-level dialogue.
– Limited stealth mechanic with no non-auditory cues for alerting enemies.
This article has been transferred from DAGERSystem (now AbilityPoints). Scores, formatting, and writing style may differ from original CIPT content.