The ridiculous story and blistering fast gameplay make Vanquish an extraordinary single-player shooter that’s a joy to play and an experience you won’t forget any time soon.
Vanquish, from notorious Japanese developer Platinum Games, is so confident in itself that there was simply no way that this third-person cover shooter was going to go unnoticed. It has flaws, of course, but seldom have I seen a game so unapologetically entertaining. Zipping through the different levels, slowing down time so that you can target the weak points of the diverse enemies, upgrading your arsenal as you pick up new weapons and taking cover to strategically take down foes make Vanquish an action title that you won’t want to miss.
You’ve certainly heard this one before: the Earth’s resources are scarce and human population is doing everything it can to survive. For the United States, that means launching a space station called Providence to obtain alternate energy sources, but the Russian Federation is under a new government called the Order of the Russian Star and it captures the Providence and uses the ship to wipe the city of San Francisco from the face of the Earth. The president of the United States then creates a special team known as the Bravo Company to bring down the dictatorship from the inside.
You play as former football start turned super-soldier Sam Gideon, a member of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency or DARPA for short. He possesses an exoskeleton known as the Augmented Reaction suit that allows him to dash, use heavy weapons and face mechanized enemies. The only disadvantage to using the suit is that if you take too much damage or if you abuse your dashing abilities, the suit overheats leaving you open to enemy attacks. As you can probably tell by this description, the plot is mediocre to say the least and the dialogue is as corny and cheesy as you’d expect. But in the case of this game, those features work in the game’s advantage, making it feel like a science-fiction B-movie that rarely takes itself too seriously, though the plot can be too complicated to follow.
Most missions require the same strategy: you face dozens of enemies and you need to take over to destroy the army in front of you. Enemies come in different forms and sizes, there are weak soldiers that only pose a threat when they outnumber you, flying soldiers that move around quickly and shoot viciously, gargantuan creatures with weak points in their backs and of course, some end-of-the-level bosses. In other words, there’s enough enemy variety to keep you entertained for hours. The fast-pace nature of this game is something that you’d usually find in two-dimensional shooter instead of third-person shooter, but it definitely works here.
Innovations are mostly related to your exoskeleton. My favorite one is the sliding-boost mechanic that lets you dash around to take a more advantageous position or find cover when your health decreases, but you can use it in some creative ways. Oh and most of the objects you use as cover are destructed easily, so you’re constantly on the move and the frantic pace of the game makes most encounters thrilling and entertaining. And whenever you avoid and attack and aim immediately, you momentarily slow down time (the game refers to this as Augmented Reaction or AR mode,) revealing the weak points of any enemy in sight which is convenient.
A lot has been said about Vanquish’s short length, but the six-hour campaign left me more than satisfied. Although you can certainly finish the game in less time if you know exactly what to do, it helps taking some time to enjoy the vistas, explore some of the levels to upgrade your arsenal (you improve your weapons whenever you collect ammo) and try to figure out the most effective ways to defeat the enemies in front of you.
The only issues that came up during my playthrough involve some frustrating parts where I kept dying and didn’t know why or the story that becomes so over the top and confusing for its own good. Other than that, I think that Vanquish is so creative and it’s such a joy to play that I was having too much fun to notice.
In conclusion, Vanquish is an innovative third-person cover shooter that brings new features to the genre in some exciting ways. The ridiculous story and blistering fast gameplay make Vanquish an extraordinary single-player shooter that’s a joy to play and an experience that you won’t forget any time soon.