By -- Craig Hart
Vanquish is the fourth title from developer Platinum Games and is the latest game from Resident Evil creator Shinji Mikami. Vanquish is an extremely fast-paced third-person shooter that packs solid gameplay with fantastic visuals.
In Vanquish, players will assume the role of Sam Gideon, a military researcher, who comes equipped with a super advance battle suit called the ARS (Augmented Reaction Suit). The suit provides Sam with armor, slow-motion abilities and thrust mechanics (among other things). The game takes place on the orbital space station of Providence which has been overrun by a Russian extremist group known as the Order of the Russian Star. After destroying San Francisco, the group has put New York in the cross-hairs of its high-powered artillery beam that will destroy the city. While most are under the impression that Sam has been deployed for research on the performance of the ARS, he does have ulterior motives. Sam is looking to rescue Professor Candide, creator of the energy system behind the ARS suit, who has been taken captive by the group.
The story is what you would expect from an outer space super soldier type of story. Most players will be too busy with the gameplay to really care about what's going on. While this may sound like a bad thing it truly shows how engaging the combat and gunplay is. Most of the time you are impatiently waiting for the cutscenes to end so you can get back into the battle.
Those who have watched gameplay footage or tried out the demo will be drawn to the new ability added to the third-person genre...thrust mechanics (aka rocket slide ability). Sending Sam rocketing through battles is extremely engaging and only gets better the more you play through the game. The thrusters can help Sam quickly move to better positions in battle or get out of danger.
A third-person shooter is only as good as its gameplay and luckily Vanquish nails it. After completing a quick tutorial section to acquaint yourself with the controls you will have everything you need to jump into the battle. The cover system works extremely well and allows players to easily transition into and out of cover. With how essential cover is in the game its a joy to see that it was pulled off so well. The gunplay is equally as good and most players will have it down in the opening frames. Sam's suit cleverly hides the guns that you are carrying within the suit. This keeps the actual character as streamlined as possible and avoids from having him appear too bulky. Sam can carry 3 different types of guns and 2 different types of grenades. The weapons range from the standard assault rifles, shotguns, and rocket launchers to energy guns and laser beams. Each weapon can be upgraded a total of ten times. Upgrades can be accomplished by simply collecting the same weapon dropped on the ground for ammo or by gathering upgrade cubes that are dropped in various areas. The upgrades give the gun larger clips and increased power.
During each level of the campaign Sam will be met with huge boss battles that will require the use of all the weapons at his disposal. Simply hiding behind cover and popping up to shoot will not work. The bosses constantly drop bombs and instant kill beams that will go through or around your cover. The bosses have several weak points that need to be destroyed to unveil the core of the robotic unit. Attacking the core during these openings is how you destroy the boss.
The visuals in Vanquish are superb. Everything in Vanquish has a futuristic sci-fi look to it. Several times in the campaign the game will shoot from wide angles to show the grand scope of the surroundings. Every time the game decides to pull the camera back it is almost awe inspiring. Along with the superb visuals the game has a massive amount of set piece moments. From a plane crashing right into the field of battle to buildings toppling down around you, the game throws everything and the kitchen sink into each and every battle. As I stated earlier, this has you pushing through the games cutscenes in order to see what the next battles has in store for you.
After completing the 6-8 hour campaign, players are open to play through several challenge modes that are unlocked during the campaign. The modes are pure combat and points based. Players must make it through wave after wave of enemies to achieve the highest score possible. Those who completed the campaign on normal or higher may still be surprised with the difficulty involved with the later waves of enemies.
Overall, Vanquish is a frantic fast-paced third-person shooter. The lack of multiplayer and the less than engaging story are the only blemishes on the title. The campaign may only take 6-8 hours to complete but you are constantly fighting the entire time. Online leaderboards and challenge modes will keep players going well after their initial playthrough of the campaign. Anyone who is a fan of the third-person shooting genre should check out Vanquish immediately.
Hugely entertaining game mechanics
Thruster mechanic is a new feature to the third-person genre that works incredibly well
Set piece moments at almost every turn
Campaign is non-stop battles. One after another after another
No multi-player options
Story isn't really all that engaging