Basic Information:
Developer: Platinum Games
Publisher: Sega
North American Release Date: October 19, 2010
European Release Date: October 26, 2010
Trophies: 50: 42 , 5 , 3 , 1 :plat:

Vanquish is an incredibly fast-paced sci-fi third person shooter, and the fourth title from Platinum Games. You play as the main protagonist, Sam Gideon on the orbital space station called Providence, which has conveniently taken over by a Russian extremist group known as the Order of the Russian Star.

It’s typical for Japanese games to be thoroughly innovative, particularly where gameplay is concerned. Gone are the countless Call of Duty/FPS clones and rip offs that tend to occupy a major part of the shelf in gaming stores and catalogs alike. In fact, you want it here and now: Vanquish probably has the most innovative gameplay ever seen in any shooter to date. It’s absolutely pure excitement and insanely fun.
It’s difficult to explain how it works. Sam Gideon has generously been given a ARS suit (that’s Augmented Reaction Suit to you and me) and a BLADE system (or Battlefield Logic Adaptable Electronic Weapons System) to tackle the mission ahead. At first Vanquish may appear to be like any other third person shooter. You can duck behind cover, barrel roll, and shoot the baddies in the face. What you won’t expect is that you’re also given something called AR mode. With this literally life-saving device you can turn the entire battlefield into slow-motion, giving you the chance to mercilessly fire rounds at your enemies as the bullets that were going to give you a taunting “game over” screen glide past comically as you dodge them in slow motion and send a round bullet to some unfortunate enemy. You can also slide boost, allowing you to reach to get to the other side of the field within seconds as the thrusters send you flying to where ever you wish to go. You can also spring over low pieces of cover and momentarily suspend yourself in the air with AR mode activated. It’s the sort of gameplay that drops your jaw lets a “did you see that?” sentence out of your mouth, and a tingle of ridiculously amazement down your spine.
Despite the campaign only being around eight hours long if you play it on hard difficulty, Vanquish never has the slightest inconsistency in terms of variety and unbelievable pacing. Expect slick movements, stylish quick time events, massive explosions and insane last-minute maneuvers throughout, occurring at an incredible velocity. You’ll be in the midst of non-stop action with bullets speeding past your head, explosions taking place, and enemies to rip apart almost every second of the way. It gives you the feeling that you near to never have the chance to catch your breath other than in your beloved AR mode.

Wait! I just wanted to shake your hand...or was it shake you by the hand?

Speaking of which, as Vanquish is a surprisingly difficult game with a steep learning curve you’ll be near to death and fighting for cover often. Yet another element added to the mix is when you receive enough damage AR mode will be triggered automatically, giving you the chance to either get to cover or send a few extra determined shots to your opponents. You also have the classic melee ability added you your arsenal, and nothing should give you greater pleasure than boosting at incredible speed and launching a kick at a seemingly impenetrable boss. Your other weapons, including your typical shotgun, assault rifle, and machine gun all grace your collection of devilish toys, along with a Rocket Launcher, sniper rifle and more. You also get two types of grenades, one of them instantly paralyzing all robotic enemies for a short period of time. Vanquish’s incredible selection weaponry does have a slight downside, though. The majority of them doesn’t feel or sound powerful enough, and sometimes even resembling a BB gun in terms of strength. Sure you can upgrade your weapons as you carry them around and using the BLADE system to scan another similar gun, but that’s not going to happen to weapons such as the Sniper Rifle and the Disk Cutter that are for the most part completely useless. What use is a fully-upgraded sniper rifle going to be to battlefield of determined robots going to be when you can unleash the powers of more suitable gun?

It can be hard for your eyes to keep up when you enter a major shoot-out, so it’s no surprise that pulling off a successful full-on assault is tricky, and would be most likely seeing you to the retry button more often than not. Yet, it’s so hugely rewarding when you manage to win a fierce battle, particularly in the challenges, which truly will without question push your limits. More than a quick finger on the trigger and good survival instincts are needed to win, but with such fantastic and seamless tools and abilities there’s a generous amount of room left for experimentation.

Vanquish’s gameplay is untainted by any other shooters or third person games in terms of innovation and ingenuity, and this is never more evident when you’re maintaining the perfect boost in slow-motion and firing a few rounds before barrel rolling your away out of instant death with a stupid grin on your face. This is something that every gamer should experience for themselves. You won’t be disappointed.

Here’s a slight crevice in Vanquish’s armor (or ARS suit); the campaign is extremely short, lasting you possibly four or five hours. You’ll squeeze eight hours out of it when you play it on hard difficulty, and there’s the option to collect a tedious amount of pitiable statues, but you’ll never let go off the feeling that Vanquish is over a tad too soon. Sure, most shooters these days tend to take less time to finish then it takes to cook a sausage roll, but with gameplay mechanics this brilliant, it’s a shame that your time with Vanquish is somewhat undersized. There’s no co-op or multiplayer, but all in honesty the slow-motion mechanics and boosting abilities would leave everybody with blank expressions, pulsing eyelids and raised eyebrows in a typical deathmatch session. Vanquish was designed purely without the thought or hint of a multiplayer option in mind, and it was a fitting choice.

Weak points seem to be somewhat silimar on robots as they are on humans...

There is a little more though. You get 6 challenge maps, requiring you to fight waves of brutal and incoming enemies. These challenges will truly push limits, in particular Challenge 6, which defines terms such as unforgiving, insane, and flat-out near impossible. A very few amount of people will even be able to get well into these challenges, and you’ll probably end up throwing your controller at the screen. If you felt frustrated or did something similar in the challenges in Batman: Arkham Asylum or God of War, you can vanquish any ideas of completing these challenges right now.

In terms of quality though, Vanquish dwarfs almost every third person shooter on the platform. One minute you’ll be boosting for your life as the highway you’re standing on is crumbling with every second. The next minute you’re manning turrets and shooting impossibly massive bosses and dodging their instant-death lasers and hundreds of incoming rockets. You may then find yourself running desperately for cover as buildings and structures tumble down the slope as you exchange fire with undeterred enemies. Part of what gets your blood pumping with Vanquish is that you can’t wait to see what lies around the corner and what type of menace ridden obstacle course you’ll be fighting your way through. It’s one big thrill that forces you to keep coming back for more and more.
But there’s always going to be that spot that you can never polish enough; the game is insanely short. And being how fantastic and fast-paced the campaign is, it’s the sort of game you can play in one sitting for being short and addictive. Quality tops quantity every single time, though regardless when six hours doesn’t get it done when you’re shelling out the full retail price (in Australia that’s $110 AUD).

Even if you’re the sort of gamer who in some cases plays games for their meticulously crafted tales, you’re going to get the pure minimum out of Vanquish. Not that you’ll be paying much attention to the story anyway as the gameplay and action swallow your attention whole, but even so you’ll have very little reason to care about why Sam is searching for the Professor and what exactly the Russians have decided to get up to this time. Not only that, the story packed to the gills with corn and melted cheese, resulting in embarrassment and hitting your palm on your forehead. It’s almost as if they’re trying to go out of their way to make the entire tale nothing more than something that eggs you along and a pointer to your next destination.

It feels so good to be so bad......

Truth to be told though, story is completely no concern to Vanquish as the gameplay will demand your complete attention. True, a few extra hours of extended script and locales wouldn’t hurt, but a large percentage of time you won’t even care about the issues as they minimize with every battle. That doesn’t mean to say they don’t come back to remind you of their existence once in a while, but it’s not something that will prevent you from enjoying a campaign of pure adrenaline and excitement.

Vanquish’s graphics shine both technically and artistically. Deep and rich colours denominate the battlefield and bizarre weaponry along with stunning touches to the locales, enemies, and cut-scenes, whilst the locations you visit are crisp and pulsing with detail and life. In some cases the technical achievement in Vanquish even rises above Uncharted 2. It’s too bad it’s not consistent, though. When zooming in with a sniper rifle, for instance and aiming for your target in the distance, you’ll see some pretty drab and under polished architectures and objects. When looking down at the ground you’ll also see some pretty ugly textures. These instances are very slight, and you have to marvel at the game for having no frame rate issues or pop-in during the incredibly fast skirmishes.

The soundtrack is fantastic, giving you plenty of techno beats and haunting vocals in places you may not expect, along with other blood-pumping tunes kick in during a fierce encounter or boss battle. If you’re a dubstep fan you’ll find plenty of familiar harmonies within. You’ll also appreciate little touches such as slick and stylish menus, a performance summary at the end of each stage, and best of all, the sound of bullets whizzing past you with seconds to spare in AR mode, bouncing off your 7.1 surround sound system and sending ripples through that drink of yours that has been left on the table and ignored as you bask in the thrill of the game and it’s exceptional fashion.

Though, what is the major dent in Vanquish’s presentation? It’s the voice acting. It’s hard to believe that there are many games out there that purposely aim for possessing poor writing and voice acting, but Vanquish seems to have gotten the lock on laser for this aspect. Recall playing Halo online and hearing “double kill” “you lost the lead” “you died” every few seconds from a under-paid employee with an American accent? This is by far worse. The writing doesn’t help either, especially when you hear the word “fuck” in the most bizarre instances thrown in with the terrible voice acting and you get an idea what sort of shape Vanquish is in.

Regardless, Vanquish still manages to blow the competition away with it’s amazing presentation and art style. Call of Duty gamers aren’t going to stop buying a game (obviously) due to the terrible writing and story. Why should you?

The trophies in Vanquish are imaginative, fun, logical, and excruciatingly hard. It might even be an easy platinum, if it weren’t for that single, innocent hidden trophy – Tactical Challenger. Most of these challenges are on the scale of medium to hard in terms of difficulty, but Challenge 4 and of course; the infamous Challenge 6 will get their jollies from watching you suffer as you tackle the challenge over and over again, dying at the last possible second before victory due to a microscopic fraction of a mistake.

If you thought the challenges in Batman: Arkham Asylum were hard, then you might as well not even consider starting the easiest challenge in this game. Only a small fraction of gamers will even be able to make it well into Challenge 6 let alone finish it. Trophy-wise Vanquish is not for the casual gamer, and only the most hardest to the core will be able to stop quivering with fear of losing their pride and get this teeth-grinding platinum.

You’ve been warned.

Closing Thoughts
Vanquish is exactly what it was intended to be: an extremely fast paced shooter doing it differently, and it achieved it's purpose with flying colours. There are a few hiccups such as poor voice acting and a short campagin, but Vanquish manages to boost past those issues with being only mildly damaged.

It doesn't matter if you're looking for a shooter doing it a little differently or a game stuffed with action, adrenaline and thrill, Vanquish is an miraculous game that you should not pass on.

Gameplay: 10/10
With pure innovation and executed style, what else is needed? Sets the standards for all future shooters.

Singleplayer: 7/10
Could be been much longer, though you'll get treated to a lot of epic moments...

Technical: 9/10
Doesn't brush up the final spots, but comes close to a bull eyes incredible.

Overall: 9/10