Vanquish is a fast-paced third-person cover shooter developed by Platinum Games and published by SEGA. The game has originally been released on the PS3 and Xbox 360 in October of 2010 and has just been ported to PC.
About the game
Platinum Games usually makes more melee-focused games like Bayonetta or Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance. One can clearly see the influences those games had, when playing Vanquish. For starters, the usual sprinting is replaced with a powerslide and the game mainly builds around this mechanic. This ability is given to you by the ARS, the augmented reality suit.
While powersliding, you can slow down time by aiming, giving you a much better shot at your opponents. This is a feature that at this point is pretty much trademarked by Platinum Games, as they include this “Witch Time” mechanic in some form in every game they develop. In total, cover, slide, slow down time and shoot is the unique and interesting premise of the game.
Let’s first talk about the story of the game. The game takes place in the future, where overpopulation of Earth has forced humanity to build huge satellite colonies in space. The game starts off with the Russian President Victor Zaitsev attacking San Francisco with a Microwave Weapon mounted on one of those colonies. Victor then gives an ultimatum to the USA, either surrender within 8 hours or face the destruction of New York.
This prompts the United States army to launch an assault on the Colony, which you will accompany as Sam Gideon. However, you are member of Darpa, the Advanced Research Projects Agency, and your mission is a different one. Your goal is to safely extract Professor Francois Candide, a top researcher of your organisation, who has been kidnapped by the Russians.
Overall the game features an interesting setting and story, which you will probably quite enjoy once you take some time to get into it. “Unfortunately” the game gives you some of its background through its loading screen. Due to the speed at which modern PCs load games though, we were never able to actually read them, but we’re sure they were very interesting.
Just like most other games made by Platinum, Vanquish has some very unique and exciting elements to its gameplay. As mentioned earlier, the gameplay consists of a series of shooting, taking cover and powersliding across the ground for maximum efficiency in the disposal of enemies
Your primary resource is all about your suit’s energy, which you use for powersliding and slowing down time. If you use it up fully, your suit overheats and it has to cool down for a while. During this cooldown phase, your mobility is greatly reduced by about 30% and you are unable to powerslide until the suit has fully recharged. Managing the suit’s energy and aborting your powerslides and slow-motions just before the suit is fully drained is the key to mainting your mobility. Going into slow motion also reveals the enemies weakpoints, so keep that in mind when playing the game.
The weapon system in the game is also quite interesting. You have a couple of weapons at your disposal, including assault rifles, rocket launchers, a disk launcher and many more. Each weapon has its own strengths and weaknesses. Machine guns for example are more powerful than assault rifles but are less accurate. Rocket Launchers are very powerful, but have a very limited ammo capacity.
Then there is the disk launcher, which does fairly little damage and seems to choose its own propagation path. However, we decided to keep it as one of our main weapons in the three available slots, since it was very effective at staggering bigger enemies.
One unique aspect about the weapons was their upgrade mechanic. If you are at full ammo for one of your weapons, picking up another one of that weapon will upgrade it instead, making it do more damage and increasing its ammo capacity. This is good, since it makes you think on whether to use the weapon until its ammo is depleted to then replenishing it or to straight up upgrade it, but have less overall ammo for the current fight because of that.
One thing to criticise about the weapons though would be the grenades. In most games, a grenade is thrown at the direction you are aiming at. However in Vanquish, grenades are thrown at a higher arc to where you are aiming. While you can get somewhat used to that, a tweak here would’ve been appreciated, especially EMP grenades are very useful for the strategies on some fights.
Keyword strategy, the game has a very fair checkpoint system, where every bigger challenge will get its own checkpoint. These individual sections can be quite difficult though and finding the right tactic to overcome them is what makes the game good. We were able to beat every single section without it ever becoming frustrating, as there was always a way to do it most efficiently.
Another positive aspect to mention is that the enemies telegraph their attacks well, either through visuals or through sound. In this example, the enemy shoots a projectile right after making a certain sound. If you hear it, you should either be moving very fast, or simply hide behind cover.
One can see from the footage of the game, that its age shows and it gives off some last-gen vibes in terms of graphics. However, the game still boasts some impressives vistas and the soundtrack is top-notch and sets the tone of the situation perfectly. What makes the atmosphere of a game especially stand out is the attention to detail given by the developers and the weapon switching animation is a testiment to that. Concerning the dialogue, it follows a serious tone, but there are some light humourous elements here and there.
As Red Value Gaming, we try to review games a bit differently to others, by giving a second review score in form of a monetary value. With this value, we try to give you an objective measure of the content of the game. This system works through comparison to other games reviewed, so let’s just use Snake Pass as a baseline, as it also cost $19.99.
The quality of the gameplay is fairly similar in both games, especially since either of them has unique elements to the type of the game they are trying to be. The graphical quality is higher in Snake Pass, due it being a much newer game but we believe the level of the atmosphere is fairly equivalent in both games. Playing Vanquish on the highest available difficulty got us to around seven and a half hours of play, while Snake Pass took us around nine hours. Vanquish has a higher production value though and features a story, cutscenes and voice acting. It also adds replayability with different difficulty levels and challenge modes. In total, we believe Vanquish hits the price it is asking for and its Red Value is therefore $19.99.
Vanquish is a great game with awesome and unique combat that might even get people, who rather avoid cover-shooters, to go and try it out. The game is good, because it features combat that allows you experiment with your unique skills and abilities. A good checkpoint system makes the game fair and also makes you think to find the right approach, while also punishing you for being careless. Overall we can really recommend this game to anyone who enjoys shooters; both cover and velocity based ones. The score that we give the game is therefore 85.
(out of 100)
Dark Souls Likeness
Vanquish is a great game with awesome and unique combat that might even get people, who rather avoid cover-shooters, to go and try it out. We can really recommend this game to anyone who enjoys shooters; both cover and velocity based ones.
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