Vanquish Hands-On - The Early Missions

We log time with the very beginning of Platinum Games' frenetic shooter.

We've gotten peeks here and there at Sega's upcoming action title Vanquish over the past few months, but not an opportunity for a proper sit-down with the game. That recently changed, as we got the opportunity to spend some quality time with Platinum Games' latest project to see how all the bits we've seen in the past come together as a whole. Playing through a work-in-progress PlayStation 3 version of the game, we were able to try out the first eight sections of the introductory chapter. Long story short, the whole thing painted an interesting picture of what to expect from this frenetic action game.

Vanquish opens up by introducing you to the main character, Sam, as he tests his battle suit. It sets up the story with a lengthy cinematic that shows a violent assault against the city of San Francisco that makes use of an orbiting space station and some devastating technology. It seems Russian forces have taken over a satellite that's harvesting solar energy, and they've taken some key scientists hostage and have issued threats to the world. Your role--as government agent Sam, who has been outfitted with a state-of-the-art battle suit prototype--is to go in to the satellite, stop the Russians, and rescue the scientists. The premise isn't quite Die Hard, since you'll be joined by military forces on your quest, but because you're wearing a one-of-a-kind battle suit, you still have to deal with the brunt of the problem.

The opening level follows Sam as the military lets itself into the space station with a good old-fashioned space assault. The run to the space station interior mixes up dramatic set-piece cinematics, such as bulkheads exploding and some of your compatriots being sucked out into space, with segments where you control Sam and head toward the station interior. Once you get inside, your main concern will be dealing with a variety of mechanical enemies. The main enemies you'll be going up against initially are humanoid robots that vary in size and armament. The early part of the demo is focused on getting you used to the suit's different abilities. Besides the three weapons and the two grenade types Sam can toss, the suit's boost and dodge abilities are central to differentiating Vanquish in the third-person shooter genre. Your ability to boost for short distances and to perform tactical dodges that reward you with a brief time slowdown to let you blast at enemies are key to success in a firefight. By mixing up these unique moves with your weapons, melee combat, and using cover, Vanquish's gameplay mechanics have a unique flow. This was most clearly illustrated in the first major boss fight against a massive mech that's armed to the teeth. You'll have to rely on the suit's abilities to take advantage of the opportunities that present themselves during the mech's attacks in order to target its weak spots.

Any sense of accomplishment you'll get from taking down the mech is short-lived as you're directed deeper into the space station. The journey is challenging, because new enemy types block your way. Thankfully you're able to tweak your weapon loadout by picking up weapons as you find them. You'll be able to gain ammo for existing weapons if you pick up the same type as well as slowly upgrade their ammo capacity and damage. As you defeat certain enemies, you'll also be able to collect pickups that upgrade your equipped weapon or grenade an entire level.

That's gotta hurt.

While the early parts of the missions we played were straightforward and had us directing Sam to set points in the station, eventually new tasks were mixed in, such as rescuing trapped soldiers, setting explosives to open the way for your group to progress, and escorting an armored vehicle through a darkened corridor while facing off with non-robotic creatures. The final mission we tried had us facing off against a Russian soldier wielding a battle suit that seems to shame Sam's from a feature standpoint. All in all, the action was fun, satisfying, challenging, and rewarding thanks to a tally system at the end of each section that rates you on your performance. That said, get ready for a respectable amount of challenge even on the normal difficulty.

With the madness and challenge that you'll be dealing with, it's pretty key for the game to handle well. Vanquish's controls are smartly laid out in one of two control options that you can select. The mapping of actions works well, allowing you to shoot, melee, lock on, boost, dodge, take cover, and throw grenades with relative ease. You'll also have the option to invert your controls. Overall, it all works well, although we should note that target and camera movement and control aren't as tight as we'd like them to be at the moment, but they get the job done.

The visuals are sharp, with a high amount of detail. The space station environment, which is the center of all the action, includes wide-open spaces that are perfect set pieces for story cinematics and boss fights, and tighter, more claustrophobic locales, which gives the game a nice amount of variety even in the early portions we played. The enemies are a mix of humanoid-sized foes that come in a wide variety of types and massive screen-filling bosses. The action is fast and hectic, at times to the point of making it tough to keep track of everything going on, but it doesn't appear to slow down unless it's supposed to.

The audio frames the action well and definitely stays true to Platinum's style. You'll hear high-energy tunes that suit the crazy visuals. The voice acting comes across as somewhere between over the top and the old-school melodrama that used to be the norm in import games. We haven't decided if we're sold on Sam's voice, which sounds a lot like the military leader he's working with, but it does all seem to work.

Sam's got quite a handy suit.

So far Vanquish is looking like it plays to a lot of the strengths Platinum demonstrated with Bayonetta. In short, the action is insane and looks cool. The controls take some getting used to and aren't as tight as we'd like, but we're hoping it's all tightened up before the game ships. The visuals feature sharp detail and handle the spectacle capably, even in the incomplete version we played. The action was smooth, and the high level of detail was impressive. More importantly, we didn't notice any significant hitches to the game's performance on the PlayStation 3, which is a good thing to see following the disparities between the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 versions of Bayonetta. Vanquish is currently slated to ship this fall for the PS3 and Xbox 360. Look for more on the game in the coming months.

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151 comments
2nude4u
2nude4u

@Penguinizzy: Do u taste like chicken or fish?

Piratehooks
Piratehooks

After I played the demo I got a little excited in the pants!. I will be buying this game! I

FanFicGuru
FanFicGuru

Played the demo. Had a religious experience. Will be buying it in October.

DAD458
DAD458

I just tried the demo. Now I'm interested. I won't just run right out and buy it but it will make my to buy when bored list. Looks and plays great. Excellent combat.

OreoPoptart
OreoPoptart

is a SEGA game......... you know is gonna be whack lol

PenguinIzzy
PenguinIzzy

@GunGriffin I didn't mean to imply that 'Vanquish' was a PS3 exclusive, merely that PS3 had no such 1st or 3rd party titles that matched the presentation of 'Gears of War' [cover mechanics, sci-fi elements, heavy machinery, machismo, etc.]. I found the fact that PS3 had no 'Gears of War' equivalent for their hardware given the game's relative success, and saw the release of 'Vanquish' as a means to remedy that disparity. I am also not a fan boy; merely articulating the disparity between the two machines and Vanquish's role in leveling that disparity. You inferred too much in my post. Back up before you get smacked up. Adieu.

spitbarz
spitbarz

if the full game holds up to thr demo joping it aint all hype...looking foward to this one

GunGriffin
GunGriffin

@Penguinizzy: What are you nuts? This game was announced just at the end of last year, it was never a PS3 exclusive, and in fact is Segas product plus it's on all 3 major platforms, PC, Xbox360, and PS3. Don't make your self out to be a fanboy like that if you like the game. I found the demo to be one of the best games I have played in a long time, the controlls were tight, and responsive, as well as the graphics looked amazing in 1080p full HD on my Xbox360, that and the fact that it has such flashy and cool looking effects helps the games feel nicly IMHO.

PenguinIzzy
PenguinIzzy

It's Sony's answer to the "Gears of War" franchise, a few years too late. However, this is a surprisingly enjoyable game. I particularly found the novel concept of having a dedicated button to smoke cigarettes [L2] to be a clever touch!

organbank
organbank

how cool another generic FPS shooter.

mne635
mne635

jus played the demo rather impressed

tariq393
tariq393

@CriticalEpic i agree with you but this game is great, i played the demo and it was awesome so i guess sega did a good job with this one so i'm gonna give it a shot

CriticalEpic
CriticalEpic

i really cant afford to buy all the shooting games arriving in the next few months. nice to see sega backing winner, they have produced some awful shooters in the past. my opinion fanboys

kbutta01
kbutta01

play'd the demo freakin loved it! I was totally blowing this one off as if it was probably gonna be shovel ware...boy I was wrong. Can't wait for this now!

neil_2468
neil_2468

A very handy suit indeed. Looks like another game just made my wishlist! :D

howardorr
howardorr

Very well-put together gameplay by the evidence of the demo. It's also pretty difficult (by my standards!) -I think this will become a hardcore gamers' favourite over the next year or so.

BombayNugz
BombayNugz

cool game but... anyone else gettin tired of shooters? how about somethin else? idc what just surprise me but seriously... shooters are gettin a lil bit overworked

TommyT456
TommyT456

Played the demo and was good fun, but will blatantly be one of those could go either way games. Hopefully not all style and no substance though, hopefully will fulfill the potential the demo shows. Fingers crossed that its not TOO arcadey leaving it shallow feeling, got hopes up for this as the demo was well presented and fun :)

PhillSta22
PhillSta22

While mass effect 2 was an awesome experience, this right here, from the demo anyway, was a straight up video game. So many games today are massive experiences, like ME2, Red Dead, Fallout, ect and while those are amazing games, this one will bring me back to my roots of a sit down and shoot the crap out of everything with a bunch of Sega'esque flair to it, even though they are not developing it. Just a fun simple fast paced good looking game.

Krinnium
Krinnium

i dont get why they think the camera controls arent good... ive played the demo twice now and i didnt notice any issues, especially if you take the time to tune the sensitivity

amjadmasri
amjadmasri

the gameplay is amazing i just hope that the story is as good as the gameplay i played the demo and loved it it was very impressive i am going to buy it anyway this the first game that sega made that is cool i used to hate sega but this is good

kris912
kris912

played the demo and it was cool! gonna purchase!

Hairygrim
Hairygrim

I found it to be one of those games that tends to play much better than it looks - when I first saw videos of it I wasn't all that impressed, but after downloading the demo this has jumped into my wish list. On the other hand, though, I still think the voice acting, & everything involving people generally, is rather poor (I cringed every time the cutscenes jumped to the woman that is stood up statically constantly).

CaptPorkChop
CaptPorkChop

The demo is sweet, smooth gameplay and weapon switch.

termadoyle
termadoyle

First Day Purchase for me. No Ifs. No buts.

Voodomaster
Voodomaster

"More importantly, we didn't notice any significant hitches to the game's performance on the PlayStation 3, which is a good thing to see following the disparities between the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 versions of Bayonetta." Yeah, no sh*t. Might be because this game's lead platform is the PS3 >.>

variable21
variable21

i mean its platinumgames.. the really know how to make them games, its the real $hit... awesome, loved bayonetta too

64316431
64316431

I loved Bayonetta, and can't wait for this. Hope this doesn't have the J-pop though.

howardorr
howardorr

I too enjoyed the demo. I knew it would be good when I saw that P* logo at the beginning. The obvious touchstone is Gears Of War, but I think it will stand on its own as an excellent game. The graphics look fantastic, too.

ChaosStrike
ChaosStrike

I was surprised too. The early vids didn't impress me at all but the PS3 demo was alot of fun.

mdboomer
mdboomer

Played the Demo, pleasantly surprised. Wasn't sure what to expect, but I really liked the gameplay.

jbahari
jbahari

I have been watching this game since the release of the first video. Looks epic! I will play the demo when I get off work! PS3 or XBL, don't matter.

turtlebird95
turtlebird95

Played the demo. I thought it was really good. It's kind of like Lost Planet, except it doesn't suck.

chg3
chg3

Doesn't look like a Platinum Games title. Not crazy and over-the-top enough. Needs more chainsaws and high-heels :P P.S. Bayonetta is a lot better after the patch+install

moi6205
moi6205

Looks very Interesting to try out.

00ga_B00ga
00ga_B00ga

"the demo is PS3 ONLY" Thats strange....because Im playing it on 360....right now...... Am I from a bizarro universe, or are you just full of crap? I do believe they took the 360 version down for today, but will be back soon.

Fayt1986
Fayt1986

man wish i could play this but my ps3 went bang and the new one was faulty....... maybe if i buy a ps3 in the new year i will pick this up.

Petch1984
Petch1984

Completed the demo again and I think people should at least give it a go. After 3-4 minutes of just figuring out the controls and how it all works it becomes a shooter that incorporates Bayonetta/Devil May Cry intensity. It's refreshing to have a 3rd person shooter that doesn't opt for sluggish realism - although I do like those games as well. The demo is basically just a battle arena, i'm not sure if the whole game will play like this - I hope not but the gunplay certainly made up for it and the area was definitely full of action, it looks like the most lively interactive battleground I've ever seen - nothing feels scripted or distant.

Mikey2K10
Mikey2K10

Judging from the demo...One of the most impressive shooters I've ever played so far...Incredible pacing, one of the boss battles I've ever played and thats only the demo...Jeez, goodness knows whats in store in the full release. a 100 trillion % purchase at release. Remarkable so far...

Petch1984
Petch1984

Finished the demo on PS3, thank god it doesn't suffer from the same Bayonetta PS3 problems. Awesome game, so much happening on screen and no slowdown. One of the fastest shooters ever and one I will get on release.

tonydomino
tonydomino

*For those who can't find the demo*: make sure you check the New Arrivals tab in the game demos section. Eventually it will show up in the general listings.

GAMERALL
GAMERALL

Playing through PS3 version and posting through 360 page. Well done, Gamespot.

345tom
345tom

I'm not finding the demo either?

lewismetcalfe
lewismetcalfe

I can't find the demo on XBL, where are you guys getting it??

buttons2010
buttons2010

Bayonetta is one of my favourite 360 games so this game sounds awesome! Only just heard about it from this article, how did this game fall under my radar? Hope this succeeds as Platinum's games always seem to not do as well as they should. The developer has a pretty ironic name when you think about it lol

KUNG-LO
KUNG-LO

The thing about Platinum games is that they always make very deep games. When you scratch the surface the game play always gets deeper. The main problem is they always get overlooked because most gamers just buy the franchise titles and get given more of the same like C.O.D. or G.O.W. From Viewtiful Joe & Akumi to Bayonetta, these are some classic games that deserve your attention and sure I'm sure Vanquish will be another top class title. But no one will give it a try because its a new game that no one has heard of b4.

ZDRIVE007
ZDRIVE007

Halo Reach,Call of Duty,Brink,Gears 3,Dont think this will hold a candle to those titles,and even if it does 4 shooters is enough for me between now and march...