You all know Shinji Mikami, right? He’s the guy behind Resident Evil and part of the team that worked on Viewtiful Joe and Devil May Cry and although he’s now well clear of Capcom it’s taken a few years for his new studio Platinum Games to grow from the ashes of Clover and Seeds. Regardless, his new game Vanquish is a definite return to form, combining balletic gunplay with slow motion mechanics set in the near future, with Russian ultra-nationalists aiming their galactic weapon on New York, having already taken out San Fransisco.
Enter a grizzled group of marines and Sam Gideon, the player character, who’s equipped with an Augmented Reality Suit which offers incredible dexterity and strength but comes with an unfortunate acronym. Undetered, Gideon leads the US counterstrike alongside Robert Burns, a veteran marine with a minigun. The ARS comes complete with boosters and the ability to slow time, and his BLADE weapon is an upgradeable, expandable affair that does away with the need to carry more than one gun at a time, notwithstanding a small cache of grenades.
Vanquish’s intro and tutorial eases you in, explaining the basics and ensuring you’re familiar with the various third and first person twin analog controls controls (R1 is fire, L1 is aim, with the other two triggers used to boost and reload) – it doesn’t take long and is pretty much essential as once you’re into the game proper it’s a non-stop thrill ride with so much stuff going on you won’t have much time to think. The first section offers up a nicely pitched battle between your team and the enemy (on foot and on mounted mech-style walkers) and climaxes with a fantastic, tense boss battle.
Visually the section we’ve played through is very showy, with large numbers of characters running around fighting and all manner of things flying overhead; the graphical effects are impressive with some great detail and the frame rate’s nice and smooth even when there’s enough going on to get that PS3 fan whirring hard. It’s a distinctive look, and definitely Japanese, but there’s an odd blurriness to the display, like the game’s being upscaled; still, when the action hots up and the bullets start raining down Vanquish is a delight, so we’ve no complaints here.
The sound’s great too, bombastic and punchy, with some great acting thrown in for good measure, and although the menu screens are a little basic the presentation’s fine and the load times are perfectly acceptable (there’s a hefty install though on the PS3 version). Vanquish looks like being a great game, there’s bags of potential so far and although we obviously need to reserve our full judgement until we’ve completed the game from what we’ve seen so far it looks like the Platinum Games team have come up with something special for third person shooter fans.
You can read more about Vanquish here.