Review: VANQUISH (2017)

War has accelerated.

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Vanquish is a third-person shooter developed by PlatinumGames and published by Sega. Originally released for Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 in 2010, the game was ported to Microsoft Windows this year. The player controls Sam Gideon, a DARPA agent in a battle suit, sent out to fight Russian robo armies in a space colony.

Is It Worth?

I bought this purely out of curiosity, because PlatinumGames’ last PC port (Bayonetta) was fantastic and also because this was described to me as “Gears of War meets Max Payne”. This turned out to be that, and more.

A little about the Gameplay

Like I said, the player controls Sam Gideon, a DARPA agent in an Augmented Reality Suit. After Russia destroys San Francisco, he is sent down on the space colony Providence to fight an endless army of Russian robots. And yeah, that’s pretty much it to Vanquish’s storyline.

At its core, Vanquish is a cover based third person shooter. The player carries three weapons and two kinds of grenades, thanks to the BLADE weapons system integrated in Sam’s battle suit. If you take too much damage, the suit triggers the AR mode, where time temporarily slows down à la Max Payne’s Bullet Time. The player can also trigger the AR mode manually, offering ample opportunities to take clean headshots. Additionally, you can also use the thrusters in Sam’s suit to power slide across the room, taking down enemies or simply running away from the boss. But, using power slides and the AR mode depletes the suit’s power meter. Using these excessively overheats your suit, putting you at a disadvantage.

Weapons and upgrades are scattered throughout the levels. Weapons range from the typical assault rifles and shotguns to LFE guns and disk launchers, whatever that is. Upgrades build on to everything from increasing firepower to increasing ammo capacity.

At the end of every mission of each of the five acts, the player is provided with a detailed scorecard, depending on how well they performed.

The Good

1: Vanquish adds a lot more to the seemingly saturated gameplay mechanics of cover based shooters. It adds a lot more action to it, not just in terms of guns being fired or massive explosions, but in terms that rather than limiting the player to one section of the arena, Vanquish opens it all up. You can jump out of your cover, power slide across the room, gun down some enemies, and provided you still have the power left in the suit, power slide all the way back. The game offers you the freedom to do this and more.

2: I hadn’t noticed this for the first few missions at least, but Vanquish penalizes you for staying in cover for long. Your end-of-the-mission score is affected. This pushes you to take on challenges.

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3: Vanquish taught me to how to play shooters with a controller. I’ve been a mouse-and-keyboard guy all my life, but since Vanquish was a console port to PC, I thought I’ll see if I can adapt. You can play it with a mouse and keyboard combination and it works perfectly, but even with a controller, the game is a breeze. This is another perfect port.

The Bad

1: What Vanquish offers in plenty in innovative gameplay etc., it lacks in story or character development. Sam Gideon is the generic video game protagonist in a suit, Robert Burns is the tough as nails Lieutenant-Colonel, Elena Ivanova is the sort-of-but-not-really Cortana. Everything feels so clichéd, and unlike Bayonetta, which had a strange sense of self awareness, Vanquish presents these with such straight face, it falls flat.

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Conclusion

A fantastic port and a great gameplay mechanisms offer what a lack of story and character development could not. Although it’s short, Vanquish remains an immersive cover based shooter.

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About Amandeep Singh Virdi

My name is Amandeep Singh Virdi and I love video games among other things that include comics, movies, music and pro wrestling. Follow me @thatvirdiguy on Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, whatever.
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