I’ve said it many times before, and I am likely to say it many times again in the future: launching new IPs is a risky business. Gamers complain when all they see on the new release shelves is a bunch of sequels but, realistically, it’s the same whiners that can sink a new franchise before it gets halfway to part two. You can’t have your cake and eat it, folks.
Still, new IPs are a great way for companies to expand their portfolios and market share. And there are quite a few on the way in the next few months.
One of the new ones for this year is a game from Sega, called Vanquish. There hasn’t been a hell of a lot of hype surrounding this one – just enough to keep mild interest piqued. But the proof is in the pudding for this surprising title.
Set in the future, the story tells of a special operative, Sam Gideon, and his rather nifty suit. Sam works for an agency called DARPA, who have developed a specialized set of combat hardware, called the ARS suit. When a group of Russian extremists (still, with the Russians…) take over a space station and utilise its microwave energy to vaporise large parts of San Francisco, the US government steps in. Sam is sent as a DARPA representative to aid the assault force, led by the surly, burly Lt Col Burns. But there is more on DARPA’s agenda than just helping out the soldiers; the ingenious DARPA scientist who built the ARS suit – and the space station – has been kidnapped by the extremists.
It’s not exactly the most original plot, and it really is the weakest part of the game. Combined with characters that show little growth, the tale is a bit of a let down. That, though, is roughly where the let-downs stop.
Vanquish is a third person shooter that is crammed with tons of insane action. The ARS suit allows Sam to operate far above the level of the standard soldier in a number of ways, making for a very fast paced, relentless action game. From the word go, the player will be ducking and diving for cover, and returning fire with a number of excellent weapons.
The stock assault rifle, shotgun, heavy machine gun, sniper rifle and rocket launcher are all present, as well as some other nifty sci-fi style weapons, life a Low Frequency Emitter that can shoot through walls, and a laser marker that takes out multiple targets with one shot. These weapons can be upgraded too, in one of two ways – either by finding a rare upgrade drop, or by picking up the same weapon when Sam has it equipped (he can carry three weapons in addition to grenades, so grabbing one that isn’t equipped will replace one that is). This will only happen if the ammo doesn’t need to be replenished, but getting an upgrade for every three weapons of the same type collected is a nifty addition to the game.
The cover system is highly effective and necessary – the game is a tough one – but Vanquish isn’t all ‘pop and drop.’
Several impressive set pieces are there to be experienced, and often boss battles demand mobility rather than sitting behind a concrete block and loosing off the occasional burst of machine gun fire. The game demands a lot of creativity from the player, particularly in the boss battles.
Several bosses will kill the player with a single shot (which can be frustrating) but these killing blows are always announced before they are executed. A quick witted player will be able to get out of the way. Which brings us to movement. While most of the game is at a normal pace, the ARS suit allows Sam to also rocket along, thanks to some insanely fast boosters built into the suit. This is handy for dashing from cover to cover, or getting out of the way quickly. Also, the suit allows SAM to enter kind of bullet-time, which is essential at certain times. Also, when he is near death, bullet time kicks in automatically, allowing the player to dodge and weave while they desperately dash for cover.
While Vanquish isn’t necessarily ground-breaking, it is a fresh approach to the genre, and a game that is very worthwhile playing. It’s a little short, but has an added survival challenge mode for extra longevity. If you are an action fan, you shouldn’t miss it; it’s fast pace, nearendless action and often breath-taking graphics are a treat.
At A Glance:
A great game for third person action fans, with a few nifty new ideas.
Developer: Platinum Games
Distributor: Nu Metro