Vanquish is on a quest to reinvent the shooter genre. Developed by Platinum Games and published by Sega, Vanquish places you into the shoes of Sam Gideon, a DARPA researcher who is equipped with a neat battle-suit. Is Vanquish the breath of fresh air the third person shooting genre needs?
Vanquish takes place in the not so distant future where a group of radical Russian extremists have taken control of a US space station called Providence. These extremists which refer to them as the Order of the Russian Star use the station to attack the city of San Francisco and demand the unconditional surrender of the United States. In response, the US sends a fleet to combat the threat. Accompanying the fleet is Sam Gideon, armed with his trusty battle-suit, however his mission centers on rescuing Professor Candide, the man responsible for creating Sam’s battle-suit.
The story is easily one of Vanquish’s weakest points. Every plot device is bogged down by every conceivable cliché known to man. Why do the main characters insist on having over bearing voices? Why do Russians hate the United States? Maybe I’m just tired of seeing ideas beaten to death. Over the years these clichés have transformed into stereotypes, and it feels like shooters are almost required to abide by these laughable conditions.
I don’t exaggerate when I tell you every shooter cliché is used in Vanquish’s story. Why do overly burly men use mini-guns? Why do private ranked soldiers always get the short end of the stick? Perhaps I’m being overly harsh because in general Vanquish does a good job of presenting the story. Cutscenes look great and are well directed, but its story arc is so overused and unoriginal it hurts any attempt to tell a decent story. Many will be quick to point out that Vanquish isn’t about story, but that isn’t a suitable excuse to gloss over the story.
Despite the poor plot Vanquish has a lot of awesome gameplay mechanics going for it. The A.I is among the best I have ever encountered in a video game. They act realistically to your movement, and always keep you on your toes. Usually in shooters it’s incredibly easy to plot enemy movement, but that’s not the case in Vanquish. They aren’t erratic in anyway, and it’s impressive that with all the A.I on the map that this sort of quality is present. Vanquish also features some awesome boss battles and they are very visceral. The biggest problem with Vanquish is that even though every weapon and mechanic is useful there just aren’t many of them. I keep wondering when I would get better weapons or new abilities and sadly they never came. It’s not like I was expected a whole lot since it’s a shooter, however there’s really no progression in gameplay. This isn’t completely a bad thing since it makes the game extremely accessible, however it’s also shallow. At times Vanquish feels like a cutting edge shooter, but at other times it’s a reminder of why the Japanese market has been alienated over the course of this generation. It’s cutting edge innovation on one side and dated gameplay mechanics on the other. It’s a lot of fun but disappointing at the same time.
One thing that can’t be challenged is how breathtaking Vanquish looks in motion. Textures and character models are excellent but the star of the show is the unbelievable particle effects. Muzzle flashes, explosions, and smoke are just some of the highlights, which say a lot considering these are often the most difficult things to replicate accurately. The amount of stuff happening on screen combined with remarkable visual fidelity helps cement this as one of the best looking games of the year. Oh yeah, there’s no slow down. On the audio side everything is solid yet nothing really stands out. The voice acting is decent, but like I said before is a product of its clichés.
Vanquish is a good game, but unfortunately it hurts itself with content and questionable design decisions. Vanquish is an interesting shooter, however don’t expect a lot of content seeing as this game lasts around 5-7 hours. If you’re interested in a shooter taking bold steps in the right direction than Vanquish may be for you. Just don’t expect Vanquish to be a complete package.