Intergalactic Marlboro man

Vanquish wouldn't be an action game if hero Sam Gideon wasn't puffing on a cigarette. Biting down hard on action gaming cliches from a bad ass smoking protagonist to over-the-top gun fights, this third-person thrill ride from Resident Evil and Devil May Cry creator Shinji Mikami is as fun as it is funny.

The game casts you as government agent Sam Gideon who ventures to a gigantic space station donning a futuristic battle suit. As Earth's nation vie for the last remaining resources on the planet, Sam is tasked with quelling conflicts and keeping the peace. In other words, you're asked to shoot guns, lob grenades, and throw out one-liners as much as possible.

While it features a different style of combat, the tone is much the same as Mikami's cheeky Devil May Cry series. Sam is hard to take seriously when he gabs over a communication link while smoking a cigarette, the grimace plastered on his face seemingly sparked out of annoyance for his smoke break having been interrupted by waves of enemy forces bearing down on his location. How dare they force him to put out his ciggy prematurely.

That's where the weapons come in. Assault rifle, submachine gun shotgun, sniper rifle, grenades--you can switch among available weapons via the direction pad. An icon in the lower-right keeps tabs on ammunition for each of your weapons. Ammunition isn't collected from defeated enemies; instead, you're able to stock up by opening crates littering each level. Weapons rack also provide an easy means of gearing up. The weapons themselves aren't anything special (at least those I toyed with), but they definitely get the job done.

Opening a secure gate inside the orbiting space station, for instance, involves blasting wave after wave of mechanical bad guys. The red armoured foes were surprisingly quick on their feet and taking cover from their well-placed shots by tapping the X button near a wall or waist-high barrier was key to survival. More powerful bipedal units decked out in white armour were just as easily taken out when zooming in with a press of the left trigger.

What really got things moving, though, was the level's boss battle. A giant four-legged robot was fired upon from a raised walkway, using either of two machine gun turrets to shoot at weak points on its legs. Once the glowing orange spots had been sufficiently hit, the mech collapsed to the ground and exposed its core for damage. After rinsing and repeating a few times, the mech propped itself up onto two legs and entered a new attack stage. Now a pair of legs turned into arms and firing on them, as well as the remaining two legs was necessary to gain access to the core.

The boss fight was by far the best part of the level, which was nothing less than wall-to-wall action. Such intensity is sure to make Vanquish an entertaining play, yet it's strung up with so many cliches that taking it too seriously is unadvised. Vanquish will be available for PS3 and Xbox 360 this October.

E3 Trailer