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Neal Molyneaux reviews Platinum Games last offering of 2010, Vanquish.

Vanquish PackshotReleased By: Platinum Games
Format: Xbox 360
Price: £39.99
Availability: Out Now

Impact looks back to one of 2010’s closing highpoints of videogame warfare in the form of Platinum Games; Vanquish.

Platinum Games is a development house founded by Shinji Mikami – the guy responsible for Resident Evil and the Devil May Cry series and is home to most of the talent from Capcom’s now defunct experimental division, Clover Studios. Vanquish marks Platinum’s final game for Sega [following the likes of Madworld and the truly awesome Bayonetta] and is also Mikami’s bid to design a game for Western audiences, rather than focussing on the domestic Japanese market. With such a pedigree, Vanquish has much to live up to – luckily, it doesn’t disappoint.

The game is a futuristic third person shooter in which you take the role of Sam Gideon – a researcher at DARPA who has created the ultimate battle suit – at a rather opportune time as it turns out. Extremist rogue elements within the Russian military calling themselves The Order of the Russian Star have initiated a coup and taken over a US orbital space colony called Providence.

The Providence colony uses microwave technology which the Russians have weaponised and used to annihilate San Francisco. The US response sees an invasion fleet dispatched to Providence with orders to wrest control from the Russians or destroy the colony. Gideon and his ARS battle armour are there to accompany and assist the fleet in their mission while gathering performance data on the suit.

It being the future and all, this means you have to storm around the station, taking on an unfeasibly large army of fanatical soldiers, mechs and opposing battle suits, punctuated by some absolutely humungous ‘boss’ encounters – while being shouted at by an annoyingly stereotyped Marine colonel who seems a bit jealous of your shiny new battle suit

To aid you in this quest, Sam’s suit can rocket boost from cover to cover, comes equipped with three upgradeable projectile weapons and two explosive types, and can briefly slow down time in moments of near death – allowing Sam to dodge bullets in his search for cover and respite… If all this sounds like too much of an edge for the player to have – rest assured – it isn’t. Few games throw quite so much at you in their opening minutes – and then refuse to let up, but keep on escalating the threat level. Such a riotous onslaught threatens to overwhelm the player at first, but perseverance pays off and before long, mastery of the suit’s capabilities will see you boosting from cover, back-flipping off walls and flanking foes with break-neck speed and style.

Vanquish is all about style – the athletic combat, the inspired mechanical design, the futurist industrial setting – even the bass heavy soundtrack – everything competes for your attention, but it all comes together as a cohesive experience which needs to be played to be appreciated…

At its heart though, and in spite of all the futuristic heavy metal flying around, Vanquish has a pleasingly old school playing mechanic behind it – it feels reminiscent of classic Japanese arcade games like Strider in the way your character advances through boss encounters, levelling up his weapons just enough to cope with the rising difficulty. And that’s the game in a nutshell really – classic run-and-gun action with a snazzy new suit of clothes for the Xbox era. The lack of an online multiplayer mode and a fairly short play through time [of around seven hours – it you’re hardcore] are all that’s preventing this from being unreservedly recommended – as it is, Vanquish is still a very solid eight out of ten.

Neal Molyneaux