Support Jon, click to buy via us...
Vanquish 360 and PS3 is a hugely exciting take on the cover-based 3rd person shooter genre coming from Sega this October. At a recent Sega event I got to play the latest build, which left me desperate for more ARS action!
When the Japanese super studio, Clover was shut down in 2007, many people worried about what would happen to the hugely creative team of developers credited on titles such as Resident Evil, Devil May Cry, Okami and Viewtiful Joe. Thankfully, from those ashes arose Platinum Games who continued to create great new experiences, but also continued to miss out on the sales they both deserved and need to continue to forge their own creative direction.
Shinji Mikami seems very aware of this and his first project for Platinum is aimed squarely at the western market, but retains the game design ciphers that you might expect from the creator of Resident Evil. When Mikami San creates a new IP, I sit up and take notice - whether trapped inside a mansion or a movie, I always look forward to dressing up as his latest character.
Vanquish is set aboard an American orbital solar power station that's been occupied by Russian forces who have subverted it into a weapon they use to vaporise San Francisco. Their motivation is the usual tale of super powers fighting over diminishing resources. You play US agent, Sam Gideon, who joins a team of marines as they attempt to retake the station before New York shares a similar fate.
The demo begins with Sam entering a large hangar like area, teeming with Russian battle droids and very quickly you understand why this isn't just another shooter. From its first moments Vanquish assaults all of your senses and is played at an extreme pace. Imagine combining the gunplay of Gears with the fluidity of Bayonetta and you are close.
Whether trapped inside a mansion or a movie, I always look forward to dressing up as his latest character.
The ARS suit gives Sam unique abilities - jet boots and the like - that enable him to move at ridiculous speeds, but all the while you're still able to aim and shoot. This is not only a totally new shooting experience but also makes Sam difficult to hit, giving you a false sense of invincibility. Should you take too much damage though the suit will speed up your reactions, giving you the impression that everything around you is moving in slow motion.
Later in the level, you face a giant transforming robot boss with all the usual glowing weak points, which proves to be quite a test, despite your abilities. I love the way in which Clover intersperse their games with these over the top moments so seamlessly. Without any obvious irony they give my boyhood fantasies life in a way I could never imagined possible.
It's not just fancy moves and eye wateringly graphics. The guns feel solid and the cover system is functional - there's the real feel of a substantial foundation. Pushing the boundaries of convention require both vision and understanding of what works - Platinum seem to have effortlessly achieved both.
The acrobatic grace and the excellent controls give you a persona that feels fresh within a crowded genre.
Whether Platinum have a cohesive story, memorable characters and a touch of humanity to add to the fireworks, only time will tell. Dressing up for my brief experience of Shinji's latest gives me great confidence though that this was worth the wait and should secure Platinum's future as a top tier developer, creating games that I want to play.
With so many different perspectives it can be hard to know where to start - a little like walking into a crowded pub. Sorry about that.
But so far we've not found a way to streamline our review output - there's basically too much of it. So, rather than dilute things for newcomers we have decided to live with the hubbub while helping new readers find the columnists they will enjoy.
Our columnists each focus on a particular perspective and fall into one of the following types of gamers: