The latest from Platinum Games (makers of Bayonetta) has quite a pedigree behind it, as not only is Platinum Games comprised with people from the now closed Clover Studios (makers of Viewtiful Joe), it's new actioner Vanquish also happens to be directed by Resident Evil’s Shinji Mikami. It's a combination I tend to take notice of.
Players will take up arms as Sam Gideon, a DARPA soldier equipped with a new suit that grants him abilities far beyond other troops. The setting is a fictional future where the United States is one of the first nations in the world to create a fully functioning and habitable space station. However, in this fantasy setting, a Communist USSR is alive and well and has assaulted taken complete control of this station, with a cyborg army acting as a defense force. To punctuate this overthrow, the USSR forces have also obliterated San Francisco, the U.S. has no choice but to put it’s military into action, and Mr. Gideon is part of this assault.
Sam’s suit is pretty badass, looking almost as if Stark Industries had designed it, even going so far as to include a glowing power source on his back, which is reminiscent of Mr. Stark’s arc reactor. Interestingly, this power source also acting as a HUD of sorts, dimming as you consume power, indicating you should take a quick breather to recharge your suit. Naturally, the suit enhances Sam’s ability, enabling some standard features like additional strength or speed, in addition to a few more unique ones.
One ability allows you to slide, jetting across the battle field in a way that kind of works as a nitrous boost, as you’ll only be able to use it for a short time before the suit overheats. Another interesting ability comes with how your weapons are handled. Rather than having a slew of guns strapped to your back, your suit will be able to assimilate new weapons, and rather than switching out weapons that would normally be stowed in some sort of holster, the suit will actually morph what’s in your hand into something else entirely.
This suit also has the ability to slow down time, and while some obvious powers open up, there are some not so obvious ones available to you as well. Essentially, this temporal functionality creates a warp field around your suit, so while you’ll be able to take out enemies in some stylish ways, some of your core abilities are altered as well. With this warm field around your suit, bullets will curve around you, following the curve of the warp, greatly reducing the amount of damage you take. Also, should you use your slide ability, the warp field created when slowing down time allows you to charge your enemies, mowing down whatever is in your path.
Platinum Games has also included a cover system in Vanquish, once that is a step up from most other games. It essentially works the same, allowing you to get behind pre-set cover locations, but rather than standing or crouching behind big hunks of concrete, a lot of the rubble littering the environments will act as cover as well. That is to say, you’ll be able to hide behind things that are only a few inches high, with Sam contorting his body however he can to get behind some form of safety. In the example that I saw, Sam was lying flat on his back, occasionally poking out his head or arm in order to aim or fire. Vanquish takes this tried and true mechanic and gives it a breath of fresh air.
While I thought Vanquish would be a standard take on third person shooters, I quickly found that it, like other titles from Platinum Games, had a lot of interesting new takes on some traditional elements. All the great visual flourishes and new touches given to the various elements help create a great style to compliment the solid gameplay. As with most noteworthy things, it’s all in the details.
Developer: Platinum Games
Available On: Xbox 360, PlayStation 3
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