It won’t be long now until Metal Gear Solid fans will be able to get their hands on a spin-off starring everyone’s favorite cyborg assassin Raiden, but Konami was kind enough to allow me to get some hands-on time with the near final version of Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance. This preview, played on the PlayStation 3, will go over the first portion of the game’s single-player campaign (one chapter before the public demo starting point), so be warned that there are some minor spoilers pertaining to Revengeance‘s plot.

Metal Gear Rising‘s story kicks off four years after the events of Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots, and Raiden has taken on the role of a body guard for Maverick Security Consulting, Inc.. His first job is to protect the newly elected Prime Minister of a developing country located in Africa. This VIP has been trying to put an end to all of the violence in his developing nation, which immediately makes him a target for some of the warmongers that make a profit off of the area’s violence. This is where Rising‘s story begins.

After a casual drive in a limo, Raiden (who’s accompanying the Prime Minister) and the rest of the convoy is confronted by a cyborg known as ‘Jet Stream’ Sam. After the limousine containing the PM makes a daring escape, Raiden stays behind to dispatch some of the attacking mercenaries and prevent them from pursuing. As he draws his blade from a high-tech suitcase, a player’s first combat scenario is noticeably imminent.

Metal Gear Rising Revengeance Screenshots

The third-person view give gamers a good look at what obstacles lay ahead of Raiden, and players can easily prepare for a method of attack. Attacks have been mapped to two separate buttons, the ‘square’ button will unleash lighter and quicker attacks, while the ‘triangle’ will deal out hard-hitting heavy blows. Blocking isn’t as simple as holding a button either, requiring timed button presses in correspondence with an incoming attack in order to pull off a successful counter. Overall, the basic combat itself is very fluid, while still providing enough of a challenge to keep it interesting.

There are several means of dispatching foes available to the user — all of which end in an obscene amount of flare and jaw-dropping violence — but it’s the ability to chop up cyborgs with pinpoint accuracy that’s the main appeal. Holding the ‘L1’ button, players will enter Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance‘s most famous feature — ‘Blade Mode’. Entering this mode slows down time and gives players a more accurate means of controlling their sword strikes, allowing them to reduce foes to ribbons. While in Blade Mode, the left analogue stick will turn Raiden, and the right stick controls the angle and movement of each slice.

After killing all of the guards, the demo throws a boss at users in the form of a giant robot that appears to be a modified Metal Gear. Attacking the legs of the mechanical giant weakens it, allowing Raiden to hack and slash his way through the various armor and weapons installed on the beast. This boss battle alludes to some of the truly epic fights to come, and if slicing incoming missiles in half, running down collapsing buildings, and severing the limbs of a massive robot are any indication of what to expect in later fights, then I’m genuinely excited to play through the full game.

Metal Gear Rising Revengeance Screenshots

When Raiden finally catches up with the Prime Minster, he learns of the motives behind the cyborg attack on the country’s leader. However, as Raiden tries to stop the baddies from assassinating the PM, coming face to face with ‘Jet Stream’ Sam, Raiden is gravely injured, losing both his eye and an arm. This sets up the entire plot of Metal Gear Rising, and the game then switches over to a portion of the demo that’s currently available on the PS3 and Xbox 360.

Overall, the limited hands-on time I had with Metal Gear Rising did enough to persuade me that the final product could live up to expectations — barring any unforeseen hiccups. Platinum Games has really done a number with Konami’s infamous property, and skeptical fans can put their concerns to rest for now. This isn’t your typical Metal Gear game, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance will hack and slash its way onto the Xbox 360 and PS3 this February 19th.

You can follow Riley on Twitter @TheRileyLittle.