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Vanquish (PS3) Preview

Vanquish is Platinum Games’ fourth game in a four game deal with Sega and is being directed by Shinji Mikami of Resident Evil fame. The previous three games have had mixed results in terms of critical and financial success, but Vanquish looks to end the arrangement with a certifiable hit. Set in the future in a war for natural resources, you play as Sam Gideon, a soldier outfitted with technologically advanced battle armor referred to as the ARS.

The demo lets you choose whether to jump into the game or try out the tutorial mode. I started the tutorial mode first in order to get the most out of the new ARS suit. The tutorial is well conceived and amazing looking. You find yourself in a white room where panels on the walls and ceiling open up, shift around and present targets, makeshift cover and walls for punching. The whole room is reminiscent of the Danger Room from the “X-Men” comics. The tutorial shows you everything from basic movement to activating your ARS suit.

The suit is just as technically impressive as the room itself with tiny parts moving and shifting like a cybernetic centipede. The suit allows you to boost which rocket slides you in any direction in order to get behind cover faster or dodge attacks in a hurry. The suit even activates AR mode which slows down time and highlights targets with a red reticule. AR mode automatically activates when you take too much damage and need a breather to figure out what to do next. You can also activate AR mode manually when you think you need it most. Both the boosting and AR mode come at a price as both actions will cause your suit to over-heat requiring a cool down time to get back to 100% effectiveness.

Like in many contemporary third-person shooters, you can only carry a set amount of guns and grenades. All of the classic staples are available such as the heavy machine gun, shotgun and sniper rifle just to name a few. Switching from gun to gun looks pretty slick; instead of reaching behind and pulling out a new weapon, the old gun vanishes in your hand and a new gun materializes from thin air creating almost zero wait time when switching weapons. Each gun has a different melee attack associated with it so depending on the situation you can perform the best, specific attack. Melee attacks are extraordinarily powerful but like the boost and AR mode, they will cause you to over-heat.

During the level, you fight alongside other soldiers. If one of them needs medical attention you can rush to them and stab them with a kind of health syringe and they will thank you with more ammo. The enemies are metallic red robots that explode in blue fire when shot. They have access to gun turrets, and bipedal-mechs, but you can acquire these after dispatching the gunner or driver. Bigger enemies require some God of War quick time events in order to escape attacks as well as inflict major damage.

During the boss’ second form, you get the opportunity to shove its missile back into one of its arms causing that arm to rupture and blow apart.

The gameplay is very similar to other third-person shooters but exponentially sped up with features like the boost making it feel more arcade-like. The action is frantic, yet the controls feel responsive and streamlined. In the heat of battle, you can even have a smoke break. Other than looking cool, this doesn’t seem to affect gameplay, but it speaks volumes regarding the game’s over-the-top sensibilities and tone. This has been one of the most graphically beautiful and most enjoyable demos to be released on PSN this year and hopefully the retail release will deliver more of the same. Unfortunately, the end of the demo does not give a release date, but most sites speculate a late October release.    


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