Posted 2 years ago By - Michael Launier
Vanquish, a game that certainly carries an appropriate name since that is precisely what the player does to many, many enemies. At first, I wasn’t entirely sure how to approach this game, but it certainly has some interesting backing. It is the latest in a line of products by Platinum Games, a recently formed developer that’s essentially a rebirth of the tragically dissolved legendary Clover Studio/Seeds Inc. and whose status as a creator of original IPs is steadily growing after MadWorld and Bayonetta. It’s also the newest brainchild of creative mastermind of Shinji Mikami, known as the father of Resident Evil, Devil May Cry and Viewtiful Joe. With such an impressive background, can this new entry live up to its roots?
In the near future, the United States are again at war with Russia following a massive expansion of the human population which resulted in a struggle for resources. One day, Russia suddenly makes use of a space station equipped with a huge microwave cannon to literally fry San Francisco and its population in rather graphic detail (people burn and explode as if placed within a giant microwave oven). They then promise that New York will soon follow if the current president of the US - who shares a striking similarity with Hilary Clinton - doesn’t unconditionally surrender control of the country. The army sends its most honored war veteran, the foul-mouthed Lieutnant Colonel Robert Burns, accompanied by trash-talking protagonist Sam Gideon who is a DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) researcher and former football superstar (interesting combination) to take control of the space station and prevent another catastrophe from taking place.
Unfortunately, it’s somewhat disheartening to see how such a promising story was handled. Characters are one-dimensional and their voice acting, while not bad in and of itself, is pretty cheesy. More egregious though is the seemingly inconsistent feel that Vanquish carries; one minute, it’s serious and deep as characters argue and share their ideals, yet the next minute it becomes a parody of itself when they swear every few seconds and make corny remarks. Personally, I would have been fine with either a serious story or a parody, but the two blend rather awkwardly. Meanwhile, the cut-scenes are minimal and sometimes presented with the over-the-top acrobatics which is now pretty much a trademark for Mikami.
Sam, the game’s main character, is outfitted with an Augmented Reaction Suit (ARS, for short) developed by DARPA, which lets the user dash at high speed, perform powerful close-range attacks that vary based on equipment and comes with the BLADE system which has the ability to copy and adapt itself to form weapons. Although make no mistake, the latter is more of a visual effect than an actual game mechanic. What really sets Vanquish apart from other similar titles is the "AR Mode" that is automatically triggered when too much damage taken. It brings a distinct sense of urgency to the whole process as the armor’s wearer suddenly sees their perception and reaction times become highly enhanced, effectively entering a slow-motion mode that makes it easier to avoid projectiles and aim at precise spots on opponents. That ability can thus be used to perform stuff like hiding behind low cover, then jumping over it while simultaneously entering slow motion, switching to a sniper and shooting a far away enemy in the head before landing. All-in-all, combat is highly addictive and exciting.
Think that would make the game too easy? Ho-ho-ho! Don’t be mistaken, my friends. Developer Platinum Games lives up to its reputation for not only creating original, but also challenging games. The difficulty selection available by default includes "Casual" and "Casual (Auto)" as well as "Normal" and "Hard", but "Normal" was actually pretty tough since enemy fire can be rather prominent (especially on the later missions) and it doesn’t take much to be on the verge of death. That said, action game fans will immediately feel at home.
More to the point, Vanquish is a third-person shooter/action game hybrid with an emphasis on duck and cover. Game flow involves the player progressing through a map (roughly divided into smaller segments) by destroying groups of enemies and using different weapons and strategies to adapt to various situations. In fact, the HUD (Heads Up Display) lacks a health bar or any sort of life indicator, instead relying on an invisible shield-like system, the status of which is indicated by visual effects. This basically means that the main character can handle a virtually infinite amount of damage so long as it’s not too much at once. It’s a syste we’ve seen many times before, especially in the more sci-fi based games.
The player can carry up to three weapons at once and swap them for equipment found on the battlefield, as well as two types of grenades - both the standard explosive and EMP discharges that temporarily paralyze nearby robotic enemies (by far the vast majority of them are robots anyway). The armament includes the standard guns you’d expect such as an assault rifle, shotgun, sniper rifle and rocket launcher plus a few more unique weapons. All of those can be upgraded multiple times by picking up ammunition for them when the player’s stocks are already full, thereby increasing their various statistics like attack power, accuracy and firing speed.
Graphics are very nice and detailed, doing a great job of showcasing the bright and shiny futuristic space station that the story takes place in. Everything has a stylistic touch to it - characters included and the animation showing the BLADE system’s transformation into weapons is pretty cool. Wherever you look, you can find a dedicated attention to detail.
The music is also great when you can actually hear it, as it’s either missing entirely for atmospheric purposes or buried beneath the constant sounds of weapons firing, characters yelling, robots exploding and structures collapsing. For better or for worse though, it certainly shows that action was the main focal point that Platinum Games had in mind when they made Vanquish.
In terms of features, Vanquish is a little thin. Each mission can be replayed individually through a mission select feature and the game keeps track of various statistics including a general score, which can be shared via online leaderboards. Beyond trying to get a higher score and replaying missions on various difficulties, there is little in the way of replayability. That said, challenge mode missions can be unlocked and objects are hidden throughout levels, both of which do add a bit more content. A nice big plus for anyone who either prefers original Japanese voices or who doesn’t understand English all that well is that six languages are included; not only can the player switch subtitle and menu settings, but even voice acting is fully redone for each language. Having tried out the Japanese and French voices after beating the game, I can confirm that they are both as corny as the English one, and I presume the same goes for the others.
All in all, it is fairly a short romp (expect anywhere between 5 to 8 hours of gameplay), its story is unfocused, and the replay factor is minimal at best. Despite that though, Vanquish offers a thrilling experience filled with stylish, guns a’ blazing action, fabulous visuals and some rather unique features. It may not be the next uber-hit, but it is serviceable for those looking for something new with Platinum Games’ one-of-kind personal touch.
+ Beautiful, stylistic visuals
+ Great, if rarely heard music
+ Six fully voice acted languages
- Difficulty can get frustrating
4 weeks ago :: (PSN) Fuel Overdose
4 weeks ago :: (PSN) Darkstalkers Resurrection
1 month ago :: Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance
1 month ago :: (PSN) Alien Breed
6 months ago :: Assassin's Creed III
6 months ago :: FIFA Soccer 13
7 months ago :: Resident Evil 6
7 months ago :: NHL 13
8 months ago :: (PSN) The Expendables 2
Download us here!
Game Junkies podcast and audio interviews
Release Date : 2010/10/21
System : PlayStation 3
Publisher : SEGA
Developer : PlatinumGames
Category : Action-Adventure
ESRB : M
7.0 / 10
8.5 / 10
8.0 / 10
8.7 / 10