If you thought that Raiden and his cyborg suit were awesome in Metal Gear Solid 4, prepare to elevate your esteem for this ninja once again. We played the multi-stage E3 demo and came away impressed with the game's swordplay and devastating action.

Despite Revengeance's up-and-down development history, if this playable demo is any indication, I think that gamers are going to be pleased with how it all comes out. Raiden's acumen with his ninja sword feels very satisfying as you slice up enemies, and there are a few ways to do this.

You can attack enemies in the third-person using the X and Y buttons to attack, but if you hold down the left trigger, you can enter a zoomed-in, over-the-shoulder camera view called Blade mode. Here you can cut up enemies at will with the right analog. Your slices can be quick flurries in multiple directions, and you can rotate your slicing plane to create specific horizontal, vertical, and diagonal strikes. This may be important, because in the initial VR training of the demo, I practice against cardboard cutout enemies who use civilians as a human shield. The only way to avoid killing an innocent in this case is with a carefully place vertical slice.

Using Blade mode drains your fuel meter, which is replenished by killing dudes. A faster way to refill this fuel is to perform Zondatsu kills. These kills – where you rip out an enemies' spine – are done with button prompts while in Blade mode. There will also be other contextual kills you can do while in this mode.

After I finished my training stealth killing a few unsuspecting cyborgs in a ruined environment, I come face to face with one of MGS 4's coolest creatures – a Gekko. Hearing its mournful cry once again brings a chill up my spine, and I know it's going to be a tough battle.

The Gekko comes at me with a variety of attacks. It's electowhip ensares me and only by mashing on the Y button do I break free. The Gekko's feet stomp and sweep area attacks, and it also mows me down with its bull rush charges. I'm not defenseless, however. I'm able to parry any of the Gekko's attacks with the correct timing, and once I get into the flow of the battle, it's a cool dance of parries and counterattacks.

After defeating the Gekko, the demo goes into a short sequence to demonstrate the running controls, which I use to cross a bridge being demolished by a helicopter firing missiles.

Once across the bridge and on firm ground, I get a chance to even the score. Homing missiles are scattered through this temple-like area, and I dispatch them at the helicopter by zooming with the left trigger and releasing the missiles by pulling on the right trigger. It's a pretty standard sequence, but it might signal that Revengeance will hold onto to some of Metal Gear's traditional staged boss battles.

After hitting the helicopter with enough missiles, I experience the benefits of Raiden's ninja dash. It can be used to get around stages and close in on enemies, and when you use it while facing straight on with a foe, it'll deflect their oncoming bullets.

I use this to my advantage even against the helicopter. In a last-ditch effort, it sends a salvo of missiles at me. Running towards them with the ninja dash, I jump up on the incoming missiles and pounce on the cockpit. Getting in close allows me to do what Raiden does best – use his katana to slice up the helicopter into bits. This is the Raiden in all his glory.

As you' would imagine, Revengeance's combat is face-paced. While switching between the third-person button controls and Blade mode is easy (which one you use is your choice), I sometimes become disorientated going between the two while trying to deal with enemies from multiple directions. I'm not sure if there was an enemy lock-on command or a way to re-orientate the camera automatically, which would help.

The demo seemed like it was intentionally put together to give show-goers a look at some of the game's mechanics, so it's unknown if the demo's sequence of events will be in the final game.

Regardless, the demo ended with one tantalizing tease which better be in the final game. After the credits rolled, a mask-less Raiden stood in a city in flames. Brandishing his katana and preparing for battle, the camera swung around to face his latest foe – a giant Metal Gear.

Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance comes out for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 early next year.

For more on the game, check out this E3 trailer, as well as this collection of screens.