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Vanquish gameplay preview

Hands-on: Faster than Modern Warfare, more explosive than Killzone...

We're crouched behind a slab of polished metal having a moment of serious indecision. It's 60 seconds into our world-exclusive hands on with Shinji (Resi 4, Devil May Cry creator) Mikami's latest project, Vanquish, and we find ourselves at the start of Act 1, Scene 3. It's a vast metallic arena, and all around us things are exploding, men are screaming and red Russian robots are pouring out of everywhere.

There's so much happening all at once, and the screen is filled with sparks and micro-explosions. It's the sort of scene you'd expect to make your PS3 chug, but Vanquish is running smooth and fast. Terrifyingly fast, actually, which is why we're crouched behind this bit of metal. We don't know where to begin. It's like the busiest scenes in Modern Warfare 2, where the action seems to have reached a deafening crescendo - only this is a snapshot of the very first level in the game.

Zoom

After only a couple of seconds we're forced out of our indecision by the arrival of a grenade, expertly lobbed at our feet by an
enemy. Uh-oh - time to move. We tap square and push forward, making our man - Sam Gideon - leap over cover. As he vaults into the open we hold down R2, and as the shots start to spit from our assault rifle time slows. We use this to line-up a bunch of nearby Soviet bots and by the time Sam hits the ground, they're already in a mess of burnt metal and electric discharge. It's definitely the coolest thing we've ever done in a shooter, but there's no time to stand and reflect.

BETTER DEAD THAN RED
The bullets are flying at us, and we start to see a smattering of red smears on the screen. Time slows again - a neat trick to let you know that it's time to either hide or die - so we hold L1 and use Sam's suit-boost ability to zip across the map to relative safety, hitting R1 to reload as he leaps behind cover. Our AI squad mates half-kill a nearby bot, blowing off its legs - but it refuses to die. Dragging itself along the ground Terminator-style, the robot approaches us and self-destructs. That hurts. Although we're partly shielded, some of our buddies aren't so lucky. We sprint over to the nearest, tap r and slam a syringe into their downed body, reviving them. We're rewarded with a handful of grenades, which we instantly put to use on a cluster of enemies hiding behind a crate. Boom. The air fills with more particles, but Vanquish refuses to drop its pace.

Tapping up on the d-pad, we switch to the Heavy Machine Gun and take aim at the pilot of a nearby mech. Once we've blown him off his perch, we boost over and hijack the mech. Sam punches a few commands into the piloting console - a lovely animation that's over in under a second - and we're in complete control. Its heavy cannon rains death onto the surviving Russians. But they're instantly reinforced, as a nearby gate opens and fresh
mechanical horrors flood in. Our mech's ammo runs out just as we scrap the last of the reinforcements, so we hop out and take cover on the balcony surrounding the arena we've just been fighting in.

Zoom

Sam receives an incoming call from his support agent, Elena. The bad news: there's a giant enemy burrowing up through the ground, and it wants to kick our ass. The worse news: it's bristling with weapons. The good news: it sacrificed armour to fit on all the extra instruments of death, so - in theory - we can kill it. Cheers Elena. The second she signs off, the Argus bursts through the floor and immediately guns down two of our rapidly dwindling squad. End of cut-scene, now we're back into the action.

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