I finally popped in my copy of the Zone of the Enders HD Collection the other day, totally forgetting that it came with a demo for this game. So I tried that first.
I like it, overall. It's a lot more fleshed out than I thought it would be. I was expecting a much more straightforward hack n slash game like God of War or Bayonetta, but there are actual--albeit light--stealth mechanics in this game (for some reason) just like in Metal Gear Solid. And you have a team you can contact via radio, including a nurse who saves for you. It's awesome.
The other thing I liked is how relatively fragile you are. It's not like in most action games where you either have multiple health bars or you have one very thick one. Raiden can actually only take a few hits before he's in the red, so you have to learn to parry early on if you want to be successful. More importantly though, it gives every encounter a lot more weight. Metroid Other M did this too, and I like it there just as I do here.
So the basic gameplay is pretty fun, but the the one thing I found to be hit or miss was the game's big selling point: the zandatsu/blade mode stuff, that lets you slice guys up however you like. It's a great concept, but in practice it was hard to pull off smoothly, mostly due to the controls. You enter blade mode using L1, and then you aim the slice using a combination of the left and right sticks. The left stick basically changes the camera angle, and the right stick lets you adjust the slice angle; you hold and release the right stick to aim and execute the slice, respectively. This sounds alright on paper, but I could rarely pull it off mid-combo. More often than not, either I would accidentally ease off the stick instead of release it, or the game would just have trouble discerning whether I wanted to slice or cancel the slice. Either way, at best it resulted in a combo fizzling out, and at worst it basically let an enemy get free hits on me while I fumbled with the stick. And that's just one slice. Don't even get me started on the rapid filleting they show off in the trailers. It bears repeating that I really, really like the concept, but it just didn't work that well in the fast-paced scenarios you're typically thrust into (this is a Platinum game, after all). I hope it's just something I need more practice with.