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Vanquish Hands-On [E3 2010]

The video game market isn’t short of cover based shooting games. Hell I’ll go out on a limb and say that we have too many games that have you hiding behind cover while you occasionally take shots at a distant enemy.    Now for what seems like the first time ever a Japanese developer is taking a crack as doing a Western centric cover based shooter. But Vanquish from Platinum Games isn’t just a Gears clone with some crazy sh!t thrown in, it’s literally the coolest cover based shooter ever made.

After starting up the Vanquish E3 demo and playing for just under 5 minutes I became aware that the game is balls-to-the wall insane and has a cool factor of +100.  The core of Vanquish isn’t too far off from what we’ve seen before in other games.  Player’s are tasked with going around shooting enemies, taking cover when needed and as a last resort use some melee moves to end things quickly.  The thing about Vanquish is that it does all the basic things in such an absurdly awesome way that it’s fun and fresh.  Taking cover in the game is easy and isn’t something you would expect to be cool but when you use the boosters available on your character’s suit to glide towards cover it almost looks like the definition of badass.  The boosters aren’t just used to go from cover to cover as they’re also a required skill to use when dealing with both standard enemies and bosses.

With a lineage that consists of Bayonetta and the Resident Evil series it shouldn’t be surprising to hear that Vanquish is fun as hell to play. It’s not just the sliding cover mechanics that are fun but actually blowing up robots and taking on gigantic bosses.  Even though the game has you aboard a space station fighting robots with your advanced bodysuit, the guns in the game are all bullet based and are somewhat realistic.  There are no laser guns, plasma guns, or things that freeze or zap enemies to a realm of non existence.  At your disposal are machine guns, shotguns and grenades all of which are a joy to use since they pack a nice punch. I was just surprised at how you can blow through your ammo quickly if you’re too trigger happy or if you’re not careful with your shots.  Vanquish is all about providing exciting sci-fi action to the player but it’s not an amusement ride action game of sorts.  The enemies I encountered in the demo all put up a fair battle and in some cases actually advanced on my position instead of idly sitting.

The combat in the game was extremely intense and fast and it was even more so in the resulting boss battle.  If this boss is any indication of what Vanquish has to offer than the game could go down as an action game classic. Going with a somewhat traditional approach, I was tasked with taking down a four-legged mech out by simply targeting the weak points on each of its legs.  Simple enough right? Well it was until it transformed into an upright robot and proceeded to shoot a volley of 50 missiles at me. There were a few moments in the boss battle where I thought things were running a bit too long but evading laser attacks from a giant mech and seeing crap get blown up still made the battle a ton of fun.

With a nice visual style, amazing combat and a popcorn movie style plot I have a feeling Sega could have a huge hit on their hands.  Fans of Platinum Games will no doubt dig the almost tongue-in-cheek cheesy side to the story along with appreciating the combat system which is far deeper than what appears on the surface.  I didn’t encounter issues or things that concerned me in the E3 demo so hopefully the rest of the game is as polished. And if it is then I think we all need to bow in appreciation to Shinji Mikami and Platinum Games for giving us another amazing game.