This Vanquish preview was co-written by Robert Keyes & Will Delaney

Platinum Games, the studio behind Bayonetta, is at E3 showing off their latest with the upcoming action-packed title, Vanquish. It’s directed by Shinji Mikami, the creator of the Resident Evil series.  What Bayonetta was to action games, Vanquish is to shooters.  It’s fast paced, in your face, and over the top.

In Vanquish, you play as a research scientist named Sam who is forced into the role of a soldier. Sam is a developer of the Augmented Reaction Suit (ARS) and through certain events is forced into a situation where he finds himself outfitted with the futuristic armor, fighting alongside soldiers against incoming Russian robots on the space station for which the game takes place.

The AR Suit grants him excellent mobility and power thanks to its core energy system and boosters that are part of the legs of the suit.  When you hit the boosters, you are propelled sliding along the ground on your knees.  It’s quite useful when you need to back out of a situation, or get to cover quickly.

While the 3rd person high-paced combat and cover system are one thing, what really helps set Vanquish apart from other 3rd person shooters is its focus on action and action sequences. Vanquish‘s unique Augmented Reaction (AR) system allows for the player to play out certain moments in incredible slow-mo scenes and these are activated both passively and actively. While performing the slide action or when taking heavy damage, the AR will kick in, slowing down the game (or your perception of it) and this allows you to finish off those who are attacking you or to seek cover. That’s the passive aspect of AR (where your suit automatically detects the incoming damage) and the active part – which many who tested the game on the E3 floor seemingly miss out on – allows you to take advantage of the slick slow-mo combat while performing certain maneuvers such as jumping over an object or falling back on your knees to evade.

This feature looks and plays awesome and really do help Vanquish feel and look like a new type of action shooter. The AR system is not unlimited and instead, draws from your energy meter which is shared amongst your sliding power and armor (it recharges quickly so don’t fret).

E3 2010 Vanquish Hands On

Your suit also allows the player to be a powerful force when it comes to melee attacks.  You can perform a number of different martial arts-inspired moves, and it really allows you to become quite a versatile soldier if you can time these attacks efficiently.

The playable build on the show floor featured a few short areas with normal enemies and ended with a battle against a huge mechanical 4-legged robot of sorts.  He had a handful of weak points that had to be taken down, leading to the reveal of his core.  Once the core was destroyed, the poor big guy be exploded into a pile of metal, and the demo ended.

In my private demo however, I was shown two additional levels which emphasized the varied gameplay Vanquish will offer. The first showed us a level where you’re on a sort of future open-concept train car (remember, the story takes place in a massive space station) and you’re being attacked by flying bots which launch missiles at you. You can really utilize the AR slow-mo feature here to actually shoot down incoming projectiles from the enemies. If you don’t kill them while they’re in the air, they’ll land on the train cars and transform into a mobile legged robot.

The other level presented an uphill battle (literally and figuratively) where your robotic opponents hold the higher ground. As you make your way up the battlefield, massive objects are occasionally crashing down along with plenty of debris. This level requires careful use of the cover and AR systems.

Vanquish is an over-the-top single player action game with great graphics, seamless performance and strong controls. You could almost say it’s a cross between Bayonetta and Gears of War, and while relatively unknown to the mainstream public, don’t be surprised if Vanquish makes a big splash closer to the release as its certainly doing so here for us at E3 2010.

Vanquish slides onto the Xbox 360 and PS3 in October.

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