Vanquish Is Full Of Stylish Bullet Time, Smoke Breaks

The makers of Madworld and Bayonetta turn their attention to Gears of War-style, cover-based shooting. Then they step on the accelerator and wind up with Vanquish, a lightning fast action game created by a man who loves to smoke.

Vanquish puts players in a super powered suit built by DARPA, worn by government agent Sam Gideon. Gideon and a band of Marines must tackle a new Russian threat aboard a space colony, battling scores of red Russian robots along the way.

What makes the struggle against Vanquish's robotic hordes so different is its speed and its slow motion moments. Gideon's super suit has rocket powered thrusters that propel him, sliding at high speeds, through the battlefield. The suit also has a feature known as AR Mode, which slows down the action—you know, "bullet time"—so that players can precisely pick off enemies at a less frenetic pace.

AR Mode was employed in two stand out moments during the hands-off demo we saw at E3. In one, as Gideon came out of cover, leaping over a waist-high barrier, he kicked in AR Mode. During that vault over the barrier, Sam lined up shots against multiple robots, blasting through them all before his feet hit the ground. In another, Gideon engaged in some close combat with a bot twice his size. He performed a melee kick, then, mid-recoil-flip, engaged AR Mode and unloaded a clip into it. Again, by the time his boots hit the floor, his enemy was destroyed.

Vanquish's AR Mode trick is engaged both actively and passively. Players can choose to slow time down at will, as long as the meter is full. Passively, if players take too much damage, AR Mode will kick in automatically, giving Gideon a chance to fight for his life or flee to cover.

Combined, the high speed action, Vanquish's cover system, its use of ranged gunplay and melee attacks, and the AR Mode offer something a bit more blistering than your standard third-person shooter. It's a shooter that makes sense, coming from the team responsible for Bayonetta.

It also comes from a man who loves to smoke, Resident Evil creator Shinji Mikami, whose previous shooter work includes P.N.03 for Capcom. Vanquish star Sam Gideon also loves to smoke. During the lower points in battle, when Sam takes cover, the helmet on his super suit will reveal his face, he'll take out a cigarette, light it, take a puff and toss it away. Smoking a cigarette is what producer Atsushi Inaba calls a "finishing touch," a chance to show Sam's cool attitude.

It's also a gameplay mechanic. When Sam tosses his barely used cigarette, it will distract foes. It's a little thing, but something one rarely sees in games that aren't named Metal Gear.

Vanquish is coming to the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 this October.