Release Date: October 19, 2010
Systems: PS3, Xbox 360
Developer: Platinum Games
Metacrtic Score: 84 (PS3)
I have a list of games I wanted to play but missed when they first came out. At the top of that list is Vanquish. This game has been out for nearly four years and i’ve still been waiting anxiously to play it. This isn’t a game I forgot about until I saw it, I have been wanting this for four years. Now that i’ve played it, was it worth the wait? Find out here.
Some time in the future the Russian government create a massive space station/colony that hovers above the earth. One day, the Russians unleash a super-weapon hidden upon the colony and obliterate San Francisco. The head of the Russian government,Victor Zaitsev, tells the President of the United States that She has two options: surrender or watch the same happen to New York City. Instead, she sends in The Marines as well as you, Sam Gideon. Sam isn’t with the marines. Instead, he works for DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency), who is field testing their new Augmented Reaction Suit (ARS). Your job? Rescue Dr. Francois Candid and aid the Marines in making sure the Russians can’t have a repeat performance of San Francisco.
At least that’s what I think your main mission is. Until you actually meet up with Dr. Candid the plot seems to be more along the lines of “We’re going this way and there’s Russian robots in our way. Quick, kill them”. Then, near the end, there’s an overabundance of plot that includes double crosses, conspiracy, an pout of no where them about war for profit in the vain of “Metal Gear Solid” and a sequel bait ending on par with “Halo 2”.
However, with all those issues, I still managed to have some fun with the story, in a cheesy B movie kind of way. One early cut scene has a small fight between Sam and Lieutenant-Colonel Robert Burns (your “buddie” through most of the game) that is as ridiculous as anything in “Devil May Cry” or later “MGS” titles. What brought on this sudden violent outburst? Sam was smoking on the ship. I think that sums up most of the story in this game pretty neatly to be honest. It’s as awesome as it is stupid, but for most of the game there’s little point.
I don’t think i’ll be surprising anyone when I say that a lot of game stories are built around the set peaces, but in the best of those the story telling manages to hide that fact (the Uncharted games come to mind for me), but here the stitches are on full display. Again, that would have bothered me more if I didn’t end up having so much fun with the story, but the flaws are to big to simply ignore. The writing isn’t very good, even if it allows for some funny moments, the characters are all one note and and the tone is all over the place (although it is more consistent that it was with “Bulletstorm”). If you ever watched a movie or played a game in your life you’re sure to know where this is all headed, but the story does create an interesting world to play in, so there is that.
Here the guys at Platinum Games got nearly everything right. The main hook of the game is that the battle suit Sam wears has these jets on it that allows him to rocket slide just about anywhere in the battle arenas. It also has a “slo-mo” mode that you can use when sliding, dodging or leaping over cover. However, you can only use the two of these for a short period of time before the suit has to cool down. If the suit does over heat the game becomes more of a standard third person shooter in the vain of “Gears of War”, but even then the game is still a ton of fun. That’s due to a rather nice variation of enemy types and a quite a few guns that are almost all fun to use. In fact, there was only ever one gun I disliked through out the game, and I always enjoyed seeing what kinds of robots i’d be fighting each shoot out. Sure, for the most part the main difference between the enemy troops is a paint job, but they always attack differently as well. The Blue variation on the stock red robots don’t just take more damage, they’re faster and have no problem rushing you.
Apart from the standard issues with third person shooters (i.e. great looking sky-boxes while the action is all kept to hallways of arenas) the only issue I had with the game play was the boss fight. There are only a few real bosses, and they are just repeated throughout the game. But the are spaced out enough and the boss fights don;t happen regularly enough for it to become a headache, but it is noticeable.
The main accomplish meant of “Vanquish” is just how much is going on and how fast it all is. Changing equipment only takes a couple of button presses and upgrades only take one, on screen so you never really have to pause the game. And when I say that a lot is going on, I mean a lot. Not only are you dealing with the enemy fire coming at you from nearly every angle, but there are a crap load of set peaces you have to keep an eye on (like buildings collapsing and threatening to fall on you, a high ways collapsing under your feet and a ways of enemies on a zero gravity train that keeps changing the perspective of the fire fight. Honestly, even though I wouldn’t say the game was ever cheep, about half of my deaths came from me simply not being able to keep up with everything that was going on. All in all, even when I was at my most frustrated with the game, I never got too heated and was always looking forward to retrying.
Game Play: 4/5
Music and Sound:
The score is okay, but you wont hear much of it unless you are listening for it. In almost every fire fight it got compliantly drowned out by th gun fire. And personally, I found the gun fire to be the best sound work done in the game. Even with all the other guns firing I could always tell what gun I was using when I fired it, and when the slo-mo is being used as well, the sound of gun fire and metal being ripped apart was a delight. The voice acting is another matter. While it’s never so bad as to feel out of place, I grew sick of both the main leads “i eat gravel and cigarettes” voices very quickly. In fact, the only character I didn’t mind listening to Elena Ivanova (played by Kari Wahlgren) as she was the only main cast member who didn’t sound like she has a throat infection. Everyone else is serviceable, but some additional work would have been greatly appreciated. However, I only played the game with the english setting, so one of the other language settings might have fared better.
Music and Sound: 3/5
Overall Score: 3.1/6
Who is this game for:
This game is for you if you like fun sci-fi, even is that fun comes at the cost of being really dumb. If you need you’re sci-fi to be something along the lines of Neill Blomkamp’s work, or “Star Trek: the original series” then this isn’t for you. If all you’re looking for is a good time, you could do worse.