It's Japanese developers attempting to create a Western game. And so it feels distinctly like Gears Of War. Character movement is chunky, targeting is smooth and the gun-play is beefy and responsive. But it's also being developed in Japan; so it's all a bit bonkers. For example, your character can slide across the floor at furious speeds. And he can slow down time. Oh, and the enemies? Yeah, they fill the screen.
So while Vanquish makes complete sense when you look at each of the individual components, it's also a bit of an oddity. A unique oddity. And in a good way. The last thing the world needs is another cover-based third-person shooter; and while Vanquish is part that, it's also part bullet-hell madness.
That's why we love it.
Our demo started out with a pretty large gun battle. The screen is littered with madness. Enemies jump and dive all over the screen, turrets spew bullets in our direction, and giant, two-legged robots clamour towards our squad. There's the distinct sense of a war taking place, and it's inviting. Visually, it's a little generic - the colour palette's awash with whites, greys and blacks - but the visual clarity is impressive, and the frame-rate's fairly reliable. This is reassuring because the game's being developed by Platinum Games, the same studio who released the shockingly poor PlayStation 3 port of Bayonetta. They've learned their lesson.
While Vanquish is partly a standard third-person shooter, it's also a bit mad. Protagonist Sam can zip around the stage using some back-mounted thrusters. These are accessed with a squeeze of the L2 trigger, and allow us to navigate the battle-field with alarming pace. Vanquish is meant to be played with speed. Sitting behind cover, waiting for enemies to pop their heads around corners is not the key mechanic here. The whole game's about pace. It wants to be played fast. And that's blissfully apparent as we reach the demo's boss encounter.
A gigantic spider like enemy emerges from the ground and begins firing large energy beams towards us. We drift around the semi-circle environment, and then dive into our poised position. This slows down time - another of Vanquish's key mechanics - and allows us to pick off the glowing orb weaknesses of the enemy. The enemy collapses and we're free to shoot the core on its body. It's pretty standard fare stuff, but the fight's mad and engrossing.
Having taken out the core, we witness the beast transform into a human-like shape. Again, it's a case of shooting out the weak spots and finishing off the core, but it's exciting throughout. Protagonist Sam celebrates his victory with a cigarette. We'd expect nothing less.
Vanquish's action is refreshing. It takes a fairly standard genre, and injects it with something new. For that alone, it's worth keeping an eye on. We have some reservations regarding how the mechanics will hold up across a 10 hour campaign. Without variety, the formula could get old. But based on what we've played, there's a lot to be excited about in Vanquish.