With the Vanquish demo just uploaded onto the American Xbox live and the Playstation Network services I decided to load up my North American PSN account and download the Vanquish demo and give my opinions on it. For those of you who don’t know Vanquish is a fast paced, action packed Third Person Shooter from Platinum Games (developers of the fantastic Bayonetta and Mad World) directed by Shinji Mikami (creator of Resident Evil).
The Vanquish demo contains a small single player segment and an optional tutorial. The tutorial does a good job of explaining the gameplay mechanics while keeping it brief. It’s a good idea to run through the tutorial before playing as the controls can take a bit of getting used to. You can change the controls between type A or B. All this does it flip what the shoulder buttons do. Type A on the PS3 is L1 to Boost, L2 to Aim, R1 to reload/pick up weapon and R2 to shoot. Type B just reverses the buttons, so L1 Aims and R1 shoots etc. There is also a SDTV mode in the options which has larger text for those that still use an SDTV, a feature that more games should include as it was next to impossible to read Dead Rising’s text on an SDTV.
From playing the demo what I got of the story is that you play as Sam Gideon, an ex-football player now working for DARPA and using a high tech future suit that can power slide better than even the greatest rock star to beat evil Russian robots. The suit is a very nice looking piece of equipment, like a white Iron Man suit with the core on the back. Sam also seems like a pretty cool guy, not your typical Japanese game pretty boy or your typical third person shooter bald muscle man space marine, he actually looks like a normal man. There does seem to be a muscle man space marine NPC ally though and you get hints and mission updates from a female analyst. Obviously the story will be better explained and set up in the actual game so I can’t really judge it here but I do like the idea of fighting an evil army of Russian robots. I’m kind of hoping there will be a Dr. Wily on steroids at some point.
When you get down to playing you can choose Casual-auto that is easier and has an auto aim for when you hold the aim button or Normal that is pretty challenging and has full manual aiming. The game is a bit hectic but fun as hell when you get into it. You can doge attacks, boost around, melee the robots with awesome looking attacks but at its core this is a cover based shooter so you are better off most of the time shooting from behind cover. When behind cover and have full ammo you can light up a cigarette and throw it to distract the robots. They’ll shoot at the flicked cigarette because of its heat giving you a chance to take some shots or power slide to other cover. The shooting also feels very good, with the robots sparking when hits are made and the aiming being good with the recoil not feeling too much or too little. Your gun can also transform into different modes like shot gun or heavy machine gun and can be upgraded when you find the same weapon. It can only hold three modes though so you’ll have to discard one if you want to pick up another weapon. I found there to be at least a sniper rifle that you can pick up that I decided to put over the shot gun.
One of the main features is the ‘AR mode’ or bullet time. It activates automatically when you are in critical condition giving you time to dodge attacks and get behind cover to regenerate health. You can also activate this manually if you aim while boosting or dodging. It works really well and I’ve not done anything cooler in a game recently then power sliding towards an enemy in slow motion while shooting his robot friends and then kicking him in the face with a powerful melee attack, truly a magical experience. Another interesting thing is that the game is score based too. You are scored on
the amount of cover used, shots fired, shots hit, enemies killed, allies dead and revived, time taken and deaths. Pretty standard stuff but instantly adds replay value as you can try and beat your score for a section and the inevitable achievements and trophies for scoring a certain amount on certain missions.
I think a good way to end this preview would be to talk about how the demo closes. After clearing out the waves of regular robots you get a boss fight against a giant robot. At first it’s just a big spider like robot, shoot its weak points for massive damage, the usual, but when you’ve beaten this form it fires off hundreds of missiles that rain down like hot missiley death and then it transforms into a bipedal robot! You repeat the same standard boss stuff, shoot its weak points, bow its arms off, quick-time event to send a giant bullet back into its arm and then jump out when it explodes (seriously) all the while dodging huge laser beams, missiles, bullets and then the final big boss explosion when you blow up its core.
I have to say I’m very much looking forward to this game now. Before it was on my radar as an interesting game to look out for but now I need it. It’s amazing how much fun I had from the short 15 minute demo. This could well be the Bayonetta of Third Person Shooters (in my opinion Bayonetta is the best action/3D hack and slash game I’ve played) but that doesn’t come as much of a surprise seeing as it’s from the guys who made Bayonetta.
The demo should be out on the PSN and Xbox live marketplace this week in the EU and is out there now in NA. The full game will be out October 22nd in the EU and October 19th in NA for Playstation 3 and Xbox 360.