You won't find stealth or a hint that the iconic Solid Snake will appear in it, and series creator Hideo Kojima isn't helming it. So why does Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance even sport the Metal Gear name? Well, it doesn't really matter. As soon as you take control of the tow-headed cyber-ninja assassin Raiden, and start whaling away on a ridiculously oversized watermelon, only the most stubborn, joy-free series stalwarts will start splitting hairs.
That's what we discover when we get our hands on this franchise off-shoot, and aid Raiden as he slices, dices and dashes his way to, well, "revengeance" on the man who chopped off his arm and turned him metallic. A multi-part game tutorial introduces the finer points of combat - namely, just how would you use that giant sword to deliver a bazillion cross-cuts to an enemy's mostly fleshy, sometimes steely frame. Holding down the left trigger slows down time, while the right analogue stick controls which direction the katana slices. At first it feels a little strange - it takes us a few goes to get comfortable with the control scheme - but it never feels wrong.
With that, we're off to the enemy-slicing races, only stopping when we're presented with atabletop full of regular-sized watermelons accompanied by a single giant one on the battlefield, just waiting for us. For those who recall Rising's E3 2010 announcement trailer, which showed Raiden merrily carving up offending foodstuffs, this seems exactly the sort of cunning nod to context the Metal Gear games are known for. Just a few minutes later, we graduate to a helicopter, slicing off its bladed top like the head from a dandelion clock.
But between the fruit nostalgia and staring down that turret-toting bird, we've got to best a few yards of gun-packing meanies and their giant pet mech. You'll learn to cover ground quickly via dashing, while popping in and out of the aforementioned 'katana mode' (which feels very 'bullet time'-esque), and executing fast combos against enemy soldiers. Doing the latter often leads to spectacular gravity-defying juggles. Even better, a small indicator pops up on a foe's body as yu cut them up - if you manage to drag your sword across that one specific spot, you'll rip out and destroy that enemy's glowing blue life-giving battery with a satisfying squish.
After clearing one area of the tutorial of humanoid bad guys, we get a chance to try our skills against a two-legged mech. We have the choice of duking it out with the lumbering metal beast, using our combos until it's ready for dissection, or taking it down with some well-placed shots from a handheld rocket launcher nearby. Once we take care of that problem, it's helicopter time again, which triggers a mad dash across a collapsing roadway.
A few expertly aimed rockets lower its defences enough for us to scramble up some nearby rubble and use our trusty blade. It's nothing short of badass, and leaves us itching to see where the game will take us next. Hopefully, we won't have to wait another two years to find out.