Vanquish Review

Vanquish is a third-person shooter action video game developed by Platinum Games and published by Sega. The game was directed by Shinji Mikami who created the Resident Evil series. He has also served as Executive Producer on Viewtiful Joe, Devil May Cry, and God Hand. He helped write and was Director of Resident Evil 4. Mikami stated that Vanquish was partially inspired by the Casshern AKA Casshan: Robot Hunter Tatsunoko animated series. They even planned to give the main character Sam a robotic dog in Vanquish but the robotic dog idea you can see in this image was later scrapped. The personality’s of the games characters and the presentation does come across like an anime at times and totally in a good way. So after seeing a few clips of the old Cassern anime’s you can totally see the result of the inspiration in Vanquish. Robots, electricity, evil genius and so forth. The story revolves around a rescue mission of sorts. The order of the Russian Star after having taken over the Russian government via coup d’état takes over an American space colony built to generate solar energy for earth via an array device on the colony space station. The Russians led by the new order use it as a weapon to take out San Francisco.

The new Russian Order then declares war on the United States and demands the unconditional surrender or face New York city as the next target. Lt. Colonel Burns who looks like he could have been ripped from a Gears of War game is sent with his team to destroy the intruders and reclaim the energy array on the space station. You play as Sam Gideon and your mission is to rescue the engineer of the energy array as he was up there when the Russians took it over. Interestingly enough Sam is sort of like a hybrid of Casshan and Solid Snake with the cigarettes and gruff voice.

You fight along side Lt. Colonel Burns and his squad and you have hours to complete your mission and take them out on the colony before time is up and the US must either surrender or NYC is destroyed by the energy array. Through most of the game you will battle robots. Small robots, giant robots and towering robots and they are oh so bad ass that you will wish that this team gets a stab at the next Transformers game. The story is not particularly deep. This game is not intended to be primarily about the narrative and does not take itself seriously in that regard anyway. At times the game attempts to make fun of the shooter genre and really keeps the cut-scenes short. The one liners are really akin to arcade cut-scenes and the game has a very arcade like feel to it overall especially in its shallow storyline. After the first stage it becomes fairly obvious that the game is almost totally about action and how you choose to use the tools at your disposal.

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The visual style and graphical fidelity alone is enough of a reason to give Vanquish a try. The graphics are very detailed and you may find yourself noticing lots of subtle details long after your first foray with the game. The ARS suit for example is very detailed and has dozens of subtle animations as you pull off and come out of some of the various tactical maneuvers at your disposal in the game.

You have to commend the sheer amount of action going on with just about no visible slowdown. no screen tearing, or graphical issues such as pop in textures. These will not be an issue at all with Vanquish. The action is non stop and engine holds up beautifully. As enemy’s explode parts fly everywhere and robotic limbs can be severed (shot off or saw melee like Gears of War with the disc launcher) and there is tons of detail. It looks as good as the screen shots.

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In the game you have a Augmented Reaction Suit (ARS) that supposedly ties into the nervous system of the wearer and when in AR mode enables visual reaction speed to be pushed to the limit making it seem as if time is slowed. A bullet time of sorts. You can activate the AR mode as long as you have meter at the bottom right of the screen.

The meter also coincides with your boost ability. After the meter is depleted a cool down period is required to prevent damage to the suits reactor and armor. The overheating system creates a certain level of tension in the game as you try to balance your actions on the battlefield. So essentially you have the ability to move at super speed and the ability to slow the action down drastically. The usage of your meter adds an exciting layer of depth and strategy to the game-play. knowing when to speed in situations, when to slow the action down to execute attacks or retreats and so forth. The cover mechanic is top notch and although it’s possible to play the game like any generic cover based shooter doing so would be missing the biggest purpose of the game. The game is about speed, action, and being aggressive. Games like Gears of War reward players that “stop and pop” with an emphasis on stopping, waiting, then popping.

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Vanquish is about jumping straight into the action and in that way is tons more ballsy and engaging. Boost is one of the primary ability’s and it can be used offensively and defensively. Boosting is a tool for tactical spacing in firefights. You can boost straight into an enemy for a shotgun blow, melee kick attack, or you can use it to boost out of a tight situation. You can even boost backwards as you shoot at an enemy moving away from them. The controls are tight and very responsive and you can use boost to get into your desired range for an attack.

The AR Mode is also a tool that can be used to enable precision aiming with a dangerous target or to have time to take out multiple targets. You can slow things down a bit to get into a better defensive position between attacks and there both strategic and attack uses for AR Mode. AR mode also reveals tons of details that typically cannot be seen during normal play because of the fast pace. Entering AR Mode and seeing bullets and rockets slowly flying towards you is a highlight.

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All of these game-play elements are enhanced by the rich sound effects. The explosion, and gun fires and fizzle of the circuits frying are all top notch. The weapons sound and feel right according to their role. The heavy machine guns blast heavy and sound heavier and the sound design of the game is great adds to the immersion and is never annoying. The music is fast paced and totally the right tempo for this game.

The story mode should take anywhere from 6-8 hours to complete. It may seem short but is a concentrated dose of some of the best shooter action I have ever played. The developers obviously chose quality over padding and quantity. I think they made the right choice. The challenge mode add lots extra to the package with about another 4 hours of game-play and the levels are really challenging. The game itself is designed to be replayed. As I played through it I wanted to do stages over because I knew I could have done better. Its the arcade like nature of the game and the scoring after each section lets you know its made to be replayed in spades. It seems fitting that is published by Sega with its arcade like feel. Honestly the game length does not matter.

Vanquish is one of the best games I have played all year and its HIGHLY recommended to shooter fans. Superb nonstop explosive action. I want to use all the bombastic verbs in my lexicon but I think you get the point. It takes cover based shooters to the next level with its speed and often by literally saying ‘screw hiding behind cover.’ You should have this game in your collection.

MORE VANQUISH:

Video: Vanquish in action

Vanquish Screenshots

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