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Vanquish 360 sets a lightning pace from the start and doesn't let up throughout its brief campaign. Giant robots and exciting cover based shooting mechanics make it both memorable and nerve jangling.
Presented by Platinum Games and Shinji Mikami - the creative genius behind Devil May Cry and Resident Evil - comes Vanquish. While hard to overlook the game's western influences Vanquish stands as a distinctly Japanese experience, blending the Gears of War cover system with slick graphics, an incomprehensible plot and rocket jets. Managing to deliver a polished, if short experience, Vanquish brings a sense of speed and fluidity to what is normally a plodding genre.
It's not an exaggeration to say that I've never played a game like Vanquish before. I could draw comparison from other games, such as PNO3, or I could give approximations by suggesting blends of games like Gears of War and Wipeout. But in the end, despite these similarities, Vanquish offers something unique - a rarity in the shooter genre. By adding speed and agility to the usual mix of cover and gunplay, Platinum Games have managed to deliver something special to the third person shooter.
Part of my love of Vanquish is a by-product of my size - I'm not unfit, or even out of shape, but I am big. My build typically precludes certain more agility based sports and activities. I think it must be this inability to indulge in such pastimes that are the root of my enjoyment of fluid motion within games. There is a kinetic grace to games like Mirrors Edge, Prince of Persia, and now Vanquish, which offer me a chance to indulge my desires. But while other games offer a similar feeling of speed, Vanquish is the first to integrate it so seamlessly with precision gunplay. Rocketing around the environment on my knees, leaning backwards shooting a giant robots, before pirouetting into cover fills me with a feeling that I've rarely felt since reaching adulthood.
My assault has expended all of my energy - leaving me exposed as the mechanical nightmare advances on me
From the opening moment, Vanquish sets a frenzied pace - as the ship I'm stationed on is attacked and I smash into the huge cylindrical colony it's instantly into the action, taking down invading Russian robots in defence of a futuristic America. Thanks to a tutorial I am at least aware of the intricacies of the experimental exoskeleton I wear, which is a necessity given that the action never drops below frantic and would offer little fun if I were to adopt my usual trial and error approach to learning. But with the basics assimilated Vanquish wastes no time in making me feel like a master of combat and every moment I'm performing some new feat that leaving my jaw agape.
So successful and well-paced was the combat that at times I wondered whether it was scaling to my abilities. Every enemy, right down to the basic robot infantry, provided just the right amount of resistance to test and challenge before falling, giving me a sense of achievement with each one I felled. As pace accelerated still further larger and more outrageous opponents were introduced. Huge robotic monstrosities that transformed and multi-stage battles continued to elevate the challenge perfectly maintaining the sense of challenge and achievement.
One of the more common of these larger challenges are the crab-like robots that change into a humanoid forms. Throughout Vanquish then slowly upgrade, gaining extra munitions and abilities, providing a steadily increasing challenge. My first encounter with them is my most memorable though. Sliding at blurring speeds between the multi-jointed legs I activate my suits Augmented Reaction ability, slowing time, allowing me to aim at the weak exposed parts of the legs. Blow away the first of these vulnerable hinges and the machine slumps down, crashing to the ground as I skid out from under it.
In reality I find myself desperately glancing between my temperature gauge and the advancing metal giant.
As quickly as it went down though it was back on its feet and I realise my assault has expended all of my energy - leaving me exposed as the mechanical nightmare advances on me. As fast as possible, I limp to cover, heart pounding as it draws ever closer, missiles descending all around me. Screaming at my TV, I finally reach a low wall and dive behind. My avatar looks almost nonchalant lying behind the metal barrier, gun across his chest, but in reality I find myself desperately glancing between my temperature gauge and the advancing metal giant, wondering which will be first to reach its destination. I hear the tell-tale hum of my energy returning just as my foe arrives. Hitting boost I skid away, leaving me to repeat the whole thrilling process once again.
Vanquish is so expertly designed that somehow even when it's doing things that usually infuriate me, such as reusing boss characters, I am able to overlook them. Vanquish funnelled and controlled my experience and for the six hours I spent with it every moment seemed packed with an action, style and tension that stopped me ever considering the negatives. Seemingly without effort Vanquish kept me entertained from start to finish, never putting a foot wrong, even when those feet were inadvertently rocket-boosting over a wall.
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