Despite the fact that I have never been a big fan of the Resident Evil series personally, there is no denying that Shinji Mikami is a video gaming heavy weight. His work with Capcom over the years has yielded some outstanding results. Vanquish is his first game after the demise of Clover studios and as an ‘external member’ of Platinum Games.
After first seeing the early trailers of the game some months ago, I was initially skeptical. It looked too chaotic and cheesy, and while that didn’t stop Bayonetta from excelling, I wasn’t sure the folks at Platinum could pull this one off. While the ‘over the shoulder’ shoot and cover gameplay mechanic is a fun and quite fashionable category of action games, I feel it’s a mechanic that gets very tedious quick if not done properly. Upon playing the game, however, my qualms all but subsided. It may not be the longest, deepest or the most original action game out there, but it’s a throughly engaging thrill ride.
The story of Vanquish, set many years in the future, revolves around an armed struggle between the United States and Russian ‘ultra-nationalists’ over control of an energy generator that harnesses power from the sun. You play as Sam Gideon, a DARPA operative donning the state-of-the-art ‘Augmented Reaction Suit’ which sports many a nifty feature. Sam is your typical wise-cracking chain-smoking hard ass in the tradition of Solid Snake. Unlike Snake however, Sam isn’t really an intriguing or even like-able character. His contributions to dialogue can be summed up as a series of trite one-liners. As far as I’m concerned, the real ‘hero’ of the game is the ARS (Augmented Reaction Suit). Not only does it have cool boosters that allow Sam the ‘slide’ across surfaces at great speeds but, upon taking critical hits, it automatically triggers a time slow-down allowing you to escape danger or even to help focus your attack if you’re feeling particularly confident.