Vanquish Review

Vanquish is set in the near future, resources are sparse and the world is suffering from global recession. USA have built a space-based energy generator to help with their energy crisis and this has been captured by a new Russian force called Order of the Russian Star, led by Victor Zaitsev. The generator has been converted to a weapon of mass destruction and used against San Francisco with deadly consequences as you’ll see in the opening video. Victor Zaitsev demands the unconditional surrender of USA. Not giving in to terrorism, USA retaliates by calling in the special forces, led by Lt. Col. Robert Burns, to put a stop to the attack and recapture the space station.

You play the character of Sam Gideon who works for Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) who joins the special forces in a joint venture. Sam comes equipped with an experimental suit known as Augmented Reaction Suit (ARS) which features all manners of bells and whistles. Weapons are controlled by the BLADE system which allows you to carry three different guns along with a number of grenades and EMP’s. They all changed via the D-Pad and when done so you get a rather cool animation showing the guns transform into each other. Weapons include your standard fare of assault rifles and shotguns, through to the more adventurous LFE gun and disc launcher. You will likely stick with the standard guns such as rifles and use the rest as support. Some weapons such as the LFE are great for knocking over large enemies but do little damage, while the rocket launcher does massive damage but ammo is in short supply. Your weapons can be upgraded by collecting more guns of the same type and this improves the damage dealt as well as being able to carry more ammo for that gun, very handy in the later levels!

[nggtags gallery=VanquishPR1]

The main feature of your suit is the AR Mode; a bullet time inspired mode which slows the game allowing you to take a brief respite from the constant barrage of enemy robots. The mode is activated in two ways; automatically when the suit senses imminent danger such as an incoming rocket or manually when you want to take out a bunch of enemies or concentrate on a bosses weak spot. The AR Mode will last for several seconds before overheating and then you must wait for the suit to cool down before using it again. The automatic activation and overheating can be an annoyance at times, for example with melee attacks. Melee attacks are incredibly fun, with differing animations depending on the weapon currently in use, but performing a melee attack overheats the ARS leaving you very vulnerable which I felt was an unfair trade-off in close quarters battle.

Vanquish is played over 6 Acts which are split into smaller missions, each of which last around five to ten minutes. You can expect the same fast paced near non stop action found in Platinum Games’ previous title Bayonetta. The action is broken up with plenty of great to watch cut-scenes which allow you to catch your breath. The locations are varied; from storming buildings, navigating crumbling highway bridges, hitching a ride on a train and even working your way to the top of a massive boss vehicle. They all do share similar scenery and at times it does feel a little similar but the variation in locations keeps it overall feeling fresh. Each acts missions act as mini battlegrounds, tasks are usually based around completing an objective such as clearing the area of enemies to make progress to the next. You are always outnumbered by your enemy, so regular use of the well placed scenery to take cover in and the AR Mode are vital to staying alive. This is an intentionally fast paced and difficult game so expect to die often. Think Gears of War on steroids and you would be close to the mark.

Throughout most of the game you have a squad of NPC soldiers as well as Lt. Col. Robert Burns to accompany you, it gives the game a more immersive feel as battleground orders are barked out by Burns and updates provided from back at base by the short skirted Elena. Enemies come in several guises and are fairly varied, ranging from standard robot ‘Gorgie’ drones, to robots that transform into spheres and can roll around causing no end of problems, through to the larger ‘Romanov’ robots who look very menacing. Some mid level bosses such as the spider like ‘Argus’ or the just plain weird ‘The Unknown’ do repeat, it starts to wear a little thin as you will learn their weak spots early on and thus they become more of an hindrance than a challenge.

[nggtags gallery=VanquishPR2]

Graphically the game looks amazing and even better when the AR mode is activated. It gives you the chance to appreciate it all, for example bullets become more visual and life threatening as they make their way to your character. Explosions look great, and again in AR mode you can really see the work put into the effects and character designs as you take down a Argus or marvel at the ginormous boss structure which is literally takes up the entire area. As mentioned, overall the scenery does look similar throughout the game but it is very well visualised so this is no bad thing. The music is well suited with fast paced arcade style themes to match the speed of the game. Sound effects work well with the game, from the satisfying gun firing sounds through to the voice acting – particularly Burns who manages to sneak in a few infamous one liners. The story and acting is at times very cheesy but it keeps the game entertaining.

You can complete the game within five to eight hours depending on your skill level and the difficulty you choose. A challenge mode is unlocked as you complete each act, this plays similar to the Gears of War Horde mode where increasingly difficult enemies appear in waves. It is quite fun to play and provides a decent challenge, but once everything is completed there is little else to do apart from really test yourself with the God Hard campaign mode. I would have liked to have seen a little more as there are no multiplayer modes to naturally extend the lifespan.

Vanquish is a fast paced, action packed shooter which can unfortunately fall a little on the short side of a reasonable length of time for a single player game. Saying that, the experience is very worthwhile, while it may be cheesy at times, the game is great to play and will take up a few nights of your week. This game for me, is one of the most enjoyable single player only games I have played this year.

Extremely fun to play and there are no issues at all with the game itself. But once the game is completed there is little to come back to.
Amazing graphics both in and out of the AR Mode. Character designs looks great, especially when exploding!
Suitable arcade themes keeps the action going. Plenty of explosions and gun noises. Decent voice acting even if some of it is cheesy.
8.5Final Score

This review is based on the Xbox 360 version, provided by Chris at Holler.


Social Media