I developed hand tremors after playing Vanquish. Coincidence? Almost certainly.
Vanquish is Gears of War, but fast. It’s a chrome-armored cover-based third-person shooter, but instead of roadie running you fly around on your knees propelled by a jetpack.
After each session of playing Vanquish I felt like I was having heart palpitations. I felt like a kid buzzing after binging on candy and cartoons. I have never done yoga before – I tried it for the first time after playing three straight hours of Vanquish. With my eyes closed and my breath slowed, I saw images of robots exploding.
Ostensibly, the plot is that it’s the future, and some angry Russians have used a big laser to blow up San Francisco. The protagonist (and player character) is Sam, a DARPA operative who joins a bunch of Marines in an attempt to infiltrate and secure the Russians’ stronghold in low earth orbit. From there, things spin away into conspiracy and betrayal in a story of grand geopolitical sweep.
Here’s the actual plot: you’re a dude with a sweet rocket suit and lots of guns, and there are robots to blow up.
Mechanically, Vanquish is a success. The framerate is great and the art design is good. The controls are tight and the gunplay is satisfying. The problem is that the game never varies its pace. The action is dimed from start to finish. One of the great memetic emergences of this generation of games is the gameplay “loop,” the idea that the task assigned to the player should change approximately every five minutes, creating a sense of variety. Vanquish missed the memo.
But it’s hard to complain about blowing robots up at warp speed.