Xbox 360

  News 
  Reviews
  Previews
  Hardware
  Interviews
  All Features

Areas

  3DS
  Android
  iPad
  iPhone
  Mac
  PC
  PlayStation 3
  Vita
  Wii U
  Xbox 360
  Media
  Archives
  Search
  Contests

 

Vanquish

Score: 95%
ESRB: Mature
Publisher: Sega
Developer: PlatinumGames
Media: DVD/1
Players: 1
Genre: Action/ Third Person Shooter


Graphics & Sound:

Vanquish comes to us from developer PlatinumGames, the studio that rose from the ashes of Clover Studio, the Japanese development house that gave us stylish action classics like Viewtiful Joe and Ôkami​. Unlike those games, Vanquish is a third-person shooter. Put simply, it just might be the East's greatest contribution to the shooter genre. It doesn't have much to offer outside of its relentlessly thrilling campaign, but the single-player content is so good, it doesn't matter at all.

Vanquish is kind of a late bloomer when it comes to the environment designs, but that aside, it's a stunner from beginning to end. Sam Gideon's Augmented Reaction Suit is simply fun to watch, even when he's not doing much at all. I found myself having fun simply switching to different weapons. All of the weapons are integrated into the suit, which seems to disassemble and reassemble each of them (in Sam's hands) in a matter of seconds.

When in action, the game looks even better. Shifting into Augmented Reaction mode gives the screen a bluish tint. You'll gain a better perception of your environment, and you'll see an assortment of tiny mechanisms on the ARS doing Lord-knows-what. When you overheat the suit, the heat sink purges itself via a localized jet of hellfire.

Characters aren't really much to look at. Sam's intel partner Elena is not much more than a pretty face and a skimpy skirt, and Lieutenant Colonel Robert Burns is a scarred-up badass who seems to be afflicted with Permanent Scowl Syndrome. And the villain, well... let's just say I don't have the heart to describe him in detail. As I mentioned, it may take a while for you to fully appreciate the environments. At first, it may seem that all you'll have to look at onboard the Providence is a lot of steel and concrete, but eventually, you'll start seeing some much-needed variation. I'd go into it with more detail, but Sega has kindly asked us not to.

Vanquish's voice cast turns in a universally campy performance; unfortunately, this rarely works to the game's credit. For starters, Sam talks as if his throat is lined with sandpaper. That's not surprising; his chain-smoking habits would have Rob Reiner demanding his head on a silver platter. Incredibly, Burns is even worse; he sounds like he's trying to vomit his own lungs. Let's just say the villain is a walking, talking stereotype, and his voice follows suit. The music and sound effects more than make up for the poor voicework. Vanquish is lightning-paced, and a steady techno beat keeps your blood flowing. And, as far as futuristic sound effects go, Vanquish is a top-of-its-class kind of game. AR mode slows down time; triggering it cuts the soundtrack off temporarily, but it also drops the pitch of everything you hear.


Gameplay:

A powerful Russian extremist has seized control of the weaponized space colony known as Providence -- and reduced San Francisco to a smoking hole in the ground. His next target is New York City. Nobody takes kindly to an attack on the homeland, so the United States government responds by throwing everything it's got at the evil bastard, including DARPA operator Sam Gideon. Sam isn't your run-of-the-mill soldier; he's outfitted with the cutting edge in military technology, the Augmented Reaction Suit. Turns out, those tax dollars have been hard at work, as the ARS is a magnificent piece of hardware that, if in the right hands, is enough to bring the megalomaniac down.

As you can probably guess by the last paragraph, Vanquish's story is a bit on the stupid side. Okay, it's a lot on the stupid side. But the guys at PlatinumGames aren't trying to win you over with a tale of friendship, love, and betrayal. They want you to blow up hundreds of Russian robotic infantry and have a blast doing so. This goal has been achieved with flying colors. Vanquish's campaign features several jaw-dropping moments, and what's great is that you'll be in control of nearly every one of them.

There's not much to Vanquish if you try to look past its stellar single-player campaign. You can take part in some challenges, each of which will test your battlefield savvy to its limits. Or, you can simply play through the game again for several reasons: to Achievement hunt, test your skills on a harder difficulty, or to find the several hidden Pangloss statues that have been hidden on the Providence.


Difficulty:

At first glance, Vanquish looks like your everyday third-person cover shooter. Looks can be deceiving, because Vanquish is anything but conventional. The Augmented Reaction Suit's presence ensures that a difficulty curve comes along with the game. However, it's a curve that is not tricky to crest. Mastering the functions of the suit is another thing entirely, though. You may feel a little clumsy in the suit during the first few missions of the first act, but before long, you'll find yourself the star of the most deadly breakdance in civilized space.

Vanquish isn't terribly long, but it's got staying power. As I mentioned above, you can test your might on a higher difficulty setting or hunt for the hidden Pangloss statues. However, the main reason for Vanquish's strong replay value is also the best possible reason: it's just that fun to play.


Game Mechanics:

If there's one thing to be learned from Vanquish, it's that the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency is awesome. The Augmented Reaction Suit is Vanquish's ace in the hole, and it really sets the game apart from other entries in the genre. I haven't played another third-person cover-based shooter that allows the player to skid around the battlefield at high speeds while blasting robots to smithereens in slow-motion. Nor have I played one where among the most powerful weapons imaginable is a high-powered boot to the face.

If those abilities sound fun to use, it's because they are. The controls are precise and responsive; when you dodge, boost, or vault over cover, aiming down the sights will trigger Augmented Reaction mode, which slows down time and allows you to take careful shots. If your twitch skills are good enough, you can use them to take down several mechs with one application of AR mode. Be careful, though: boosting too much or remaining in AR mode for too long will cause the suit to overheat, rendering you vulnerable. If you take too much damage, AR mode will automatically kick in -- giving you one more chance to escape a violent and painful death. There are also some quick-time events, but they aren't as prevalent (or in my opinion, heavily-abused) as they are in lesser action games.

Shooter fans have a lot to look forward to, pretty much throughout the year, every year. However, it's only every now and then that something truly different shows up on the scene. This game manages to be different and awesome at the same time. Some gamers might turn their noses up at the lack of a multiplayer mode, but they're the ones who are missing out. Vanquish is ten shots of raw adrenaline -- without the crash.


-FenixDown, GameVortex Communications
AKA Jon Carlos

Related Links:



Sony PlayStation 3 Brunswick Pro Bowling Sony PlayStation 3 Blood Stone 007

 
Game Vortex :: PSIllustrated