padrino's Vanquish (Xbox 360) review

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V Fast V Furious

Vanquish is a very simply title. Shoot stuff, move fast, look cool. That is it.  
There is a story in there somewhere (I saw a credit for story writing) but I was moving so fast, I must have missed it. And it could not matter less. The Russians do massive damage to San Francisco and they say they will do the same to New York next. So, you have do dawn the cyber suit of awesome awesomeness and kick Russian robot ass. And do it in style.  
Vanquish takes the Gears of War "stop and pop" formula and gives it break neck speed. Instead of lumbering from safe spot to safe spot and hunkering down, Vanquish is more about mobility and quickly seizing the moment to boost dash around the level to get the drop on the enemies before they even see you coming. There is also a very good bullet time style slow-motion that will help steady your aim and more importantly, look cool.  Of course there is a good cover system but you don't find yourself staying in one spot for too long. There are too many reason to get moving. 
In some ways, Vanquish reminds me of "P.N. 03". It has a very whitewash futuristic look with lots of robots. But where that game's combat was too one dimensional and limiting, Vanquish combat feels free and strategic. The level design is also top notch with each level having a different feel even though some of the enemies can feel a bit familiar.  It just has that Japanese feel to it. The quirky story and over the top  cliche  characters. etc. Another game that it reminds me of  is Lost Planet. It has great controls and guns that seem to have a heavy impact. Its much faster than Lost Planet though. 
The game looks very good and keeps a steady framerate despite the fast action and tons of bullets and missiles in the air at any given moment.  The suit, and weapons look great and there are many little touches like the smoke from a discarded cigarette that highlight the attention to detail.  Other nice touches include the weapons which actually morph from one to another since they are all sort of one swiss army super gun. Overall the graphics are able to keep up with the fast action and the art and animation are top notch. The slow motion animation is sure to give you some wow moments as you play through the game.
OK, so all I am doing here is comparing it to other, mostly Japanese, games. Why? Because for this type of arcade style action game, I feel that it's difficult for a review to convey the feeling and fun of the combat. All I can say is that all of  the pieces needed to make a fast paced, arcade style shooter are here and done exceptionally well. There is no story worth discussing and although I find the combat makes me feel cool, how can I explain that? Many games have matrix slow-mo in them. Only a few of them do it well and Vanquish does it better than any game I can think of.   
Vanquish also has a great risk/reward system as that ties together the use of the bullet time, boost dash and melee attacks. This is not done to frustrate the player (as I have see in some reviews) but it is used as a gameplay mechanic to force you to use these powers strategically. If you could just use them all the time, they would be too powerful and where is the strategy in that?
Another complaint is the short length of the game. Well it may only last 7 hours for a pro but fore most people it will probably take at least 10 hours to get through the game because the game is no slouch. I died probably a dozen times the first time I played the first major boss because I was not using the right strategy. And I played the whole level again because it was fun.   Games of this style don't tend to be that long unless they are repetitive and levels are cut and paste and boring. Well that is not the case here. For those who play 5 hour gaming sessions, I say RENT IT. That way, if you are a game god, you will finish it in a two day rental. Good for you. For other who really enjoy these type of games, its worth a buy. I own both Gears, P.N.03, and Lost Planet and have played them all multiple times. They were all worth it and Vanquish is certainly in that same company.

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