When Raiden first appeared on the scene, we wouldn't have had him pegged as a heavyweight contender. After all, in Sons of Liberty, he was a cruel Kojima bait-and-switch. We came for Snake, and all we got was a half-hour intro. Then he was tapped out for this raw recruit whose script seemed to flip between two states: "What's going on?" and "I love you, Rosemary." Eurgh.
Since then, he's been tortured, ripped apart, put back together, and bolted into a bladed suit that makes hugging a logistical and agonising nightmare. But that's okay, Raiden's not much of a hugger these days. He's a merciless anti-terrorist who denies the humanity of the cyborgs he kills. He feasts and draws power from their cybernetic spines. He slices melons into so many pieces that it slows the engine down.
Raiden's sword is his gimmick. Using energy built from well-timed parries and stylish combat, you can slow time and deliver a precise slice, or just go slash-happy. It's not like Bayonetta's WItch Time, which was about being ethereal and untouchable as a cloud of butterflies. You meet enemies head on, with a shear of steel.
Elements of the Metal Gear universe are in the background, like the iconic exclamation marks and sound effects when you're spotted, and the ringtone of your Codec. But this isn't Tactical Espionage Action, beyond the fact that you can make your life a bit easier by sneakily thinning out your enemies before the main battles. Metal Gear is the evocative background to something that's defiantly Platinum.
Platinum is also the developer behind multiplayer brawler Anarchy Reigns, out this very month. Look at Platinum's history: it's a master of the solo rampage. Its games are instruments of deadly precision that can only be compromised by the milliseconds of internet communication. Its games are like Revengeance.
Then consider Devil May Cry. The original was made by the serial masterpiece-maker Hideki Kamiya. The same Kamiya who took his team to Platinum along with Atsushi Inaba, who's making Anarchy Reigns. This is the game in the eye of the storm, the patient zero of all brawling awesome. Revengeance might be a side story to the Metal Gear Solid series, but in the wider picture, everything here is a side story to Revengeance.