Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Vanquish and the Art of Momentum

Because it may not be clear, the point of these "art of" blog posts is to go past what the videogames in question do well at face value (things like graphics, music, gameplay, etc.), and investigate their unique qualities and styles of satisfaction.


Racing is a satisfying sport; it pushes a person to reach their limit and go past it. One's skill at racing comes down to how well they can maintain their momentum after the racing has begun. I find that Vanquish has a similar execution and satisfaction to that of an intense race made through the "art of momentum".

The beginning of a race can be the most intense part of the whole thing, and like a race, right from the beginning, Vanquish throws the player into the fray with some intense combat. There's very little breathing room and no hand-holding, the player is simply let loose into the fray. This type of execution is a superb way of showing the player that momentum will be a hard thing to keep up in this game, but with skill it can be done.

There's nothing unfair about Vanquish, the player is given all of the abilities they could possibly need right at the beginning; its simply up to the player to properly utilize the tool-set given to them and progress forward.

The "art of momentum" comes into play specifically because of the gameplay design of Vanquish. Hiding behind cover is discouraged, because not much can be accomplished behind cover; furthermore, enemies are vicious and attack the player without restraint. The result is that the best option for the player is to attack the enemies just as viciously as they attack him/her. But it isn't that easy; the player has to move alot using the dash and dodge mechanics. The end result is gameplay where the player is constantly moving and attacking, thus keeping up momentum throughout the combat. These are the tools for crafting the "art of momentum".

The satisfaction that arises from the "art of momentum" is the rush of combat that never lets up. It keeps pushing the player to move forward; and because of Vanquish's superb and varied level design, the "race" never becomes boring and the momentum is something the player wants to retain in order to move forward and see what lies ahead.

The "art of momentum" is something that's been in videogames since the days of arcade shooters/beat-em-ups. Before Vanquish, the best portrayer of this art was the Metal Slug series, specifically Metal Slug 3. But Vanquish really took the art style to a new level with its complex mechanics, multiple weapons, and varied level design that went past just moving to the right.

It takes true skill to craft a game that keeps the player moving constantly without becoming monotonous in any way, but PlatinumGames pulled it off in spades. By taking the intense experience of arcade shooters and adding the complexity of 3D action games, Vanquish brings the "art of momentum" into a genre that one would not think could even handle it, and the result is truly satisfying.

No comments:

Post a Comment