Sat in the railway-arched underbelly of a London club, we're watching a post-game demonstration of kick-boxing proficiency. One of the athletes has just mistimed his vertical leap out of the ring and hit the side-decking - specifically, he's landed directly on a point somewhere between his eye-socket and his cheekbone. Not everyone in the audience caught this moment, but those who did have assumed a collective wince.
After a few dazed moments he looks around, takes his bow with the rest of the martial arts team, and the crowd goes wild. We're at a European press event, so this of course translates into an unusually heartfelt smattering of polite applause, and a show of respect for the photography rules.
Bruised but undaunted, he'd no doubt feel right at home in the world of Anarchy Reigns, the next release in Platinum Games' series of SEGA fighters, looking to ride high on the success of the award-winning Bayonetta.
Set in a Fallout-esque, apocalyptic wreckage of a city, the game is a sandbox environment for a brawler focused on team mentality every bit as much as the traditional, one-on-one duel to the death.
Into this world are poured a collection of heavily modified super-humans who have embraced nanotechnology in order to enhance their bodies and bring new twists to the merry tale of indiscriminate tag-team slaughter. While some have a heavily mechanised feel - with weaponry that reflects the style - others take a more athletic, superhero approach to combat.
At this stage in development, motivation and back-story remain firmly under wraps, although this is likely to be mere icing on the cake given the action at hand. It's already clear that Platinum has seized the opportunity to create a diverse bunch of devils to experiment with.
It's also a chance to bring back some favourites of fans and developers alike. Jack Cayman of MadWorld notoriety makes a show-stealing appearance with a finishing move that sees his twin chainsaws slice an opponent vertically from the head down. Ripping up the asphalt like an elephant trampling across autumn leaves, he represents the melee powerhouse.
Matilda also returns, complete with eye-gouging bust and the kind of high-haunched female ass that only a videogame developer can get away with. Her weapon of choice is the Iron Maiden, a spiked barbarian's club that bristles with purple energy.
Last but not least, we're given a preview of everybody's favourite pimp, Black Baron. A cocksure brawler at heart, he delivers his lines with a swagger and his combat via the Super Sexy Fists of Fire. No really.
There are other, yet to be revealed, combatants. When you're not busy ripping each other's hearts out, characters will assume a complimentary role with each other, a symbiotic way of playing co-operatively. Ensuring each character has their own strengths and weaknesses within a unique fighting style is a key part of the balancing act.
Cooperating with others to counter your own weaknesses is essential in both team-based multiplayer and cooperative AI combat. A particularly large target, for example, may prove easier to break down with an initial combo flurry from your speed-based fighter before your oafish, towering friend finishes off the job.
There is also a complete single-player component, although details are thin on the ground. PlatinumGames producer Atsushi Inaba explains: "First of all, there's the story mode, which should be very entertaining. Also, you can basically play the online mode but versus AI. Even if you're on your own you get to have the best of both worlds."
We're given a preview of two very different multiplayer modes, starting with Battle Royale: a points-based, winner-takes-all affair with a 10 minute countdown. Closely tied players find themselves in a caged arena to see out their personal differences.
In survival mode, a team of two face off against increasingly deadly waves of enemy forces. Here the cooperation mechanics come into their own as rifle-toting soldiers pick out weaker targets with their laser-sighting and boulder-wielding mutants slowly turn to attack nimbler players.
This focus on multiplayer is something of a new direction for the studio. "Up until now our forte has been single-player games, and what we wanted to do is create an online game and see what could we bring to the table," Inaba explains. "With that we thought we'd create an online multiplayer game that involves close-quarter combat fighting, which is a new genre. We felt this was the greatest input we could bring to online gaming."
To bring the world itself alive and make it an integral part of the chaos, Platinum is hanging its hat on a concept called Action Trigger Events - a dynamic that will feel familiar to anyone who enjoyed last year's well-received, but underselling, Split/Second: Velocity.
In Anarchy Reigns, these take the form of landscape-changing disasters: a giant saw-blade grinds through the streets, clearing as much scenery in its wake as it does flesh; an alert sounds and the action freezes as the camera shifts its focus to a tsunami building on the distant docks; or a suspension bridge collapses, providing a tactical overhaul of the battlefield.
Elsewhere, ominous black holes, rippling with inter-dimensional ferocity, slowly draw players towards them before depositing them in another portion of the map - and into God-only-knows what kind of environmental mischief.
And it's not just a question of playing passive victim to the changing world, either. Ripping up the scenery on his own, Jack is quite content to smash towers down in order to create new shortcuts for bringing the fight to his enemies.
This evolving world will undoubtedly have a huge effect on the gameplay, changing the situation in a heartbeat and ensuring that no two battles are alike. But it may take away as many opportunities for engagements as it gives. Whether this will make for thrills or frustration overall will largely depend on a question of timing, as well as how evenly distributed the events are.
A strictly hands-off demonstration ensures we haven't yet had a firm idea of the feel for controls underpinning the action. A look at the loading screen, however, reveals a full layout of taunts, weapon options and special attacks for players - but can we expect the same depth of combos we were treated to in Bayonetta?
"In Bayonetta, it was more like you were basically pummelling the AI so you could do these huge combos," Inaba says. "Whereas in this it's human versus human, so it doesn't quite work like that. But we'd like to bring that feel to the table. There are many actions and attacks you can perform that will give that sort of feel. Each of the characters is very unique so there will be varied combos in that regard."
So far we've only been given the most maddening tease of an insight into the potential for Anarchy Reigns, a game where Street Fighter takes inspiration from MadWorld, with a taste for the freeform violence of Grand Theft Auto. Scheduled for release later this year, we don't have too long to wait to get our fists bloody.