Hello readers! Hope you're enjoying the warm weather as much as I am!
So last week, we descended once again into that foggy town known as Silent Hill.
Today, we're gonna switch gears to a game that is not at all thought provoking or deep. But it's fun as hell, dammit.
Vanquish came out three years ago for 360 and PS3. It's worth noting that the game was directed by Shinji Mikami, who, as you may or may not know, created a little game called Resident Evil. Developed by Platinum (I've sang their praises time and time again) you play as one Sam Gideon, an agent of DARPA on a mission to infiltrate a space station. This space station harbors a massive microwave weapon capable of annihilating entire cities, a feat already demonstrated on San Francisco. The space station has been overtaken by Russian separatists with the aim of conquering the U.S. It's up to you, as Sam, to stop them.
Oh, also there's robots. Lots and lots of robots.
At first glance, Vanquish looks like another ho-hum cover shooter. Spend just two minutes with it, though, and you'll see it's anything but. Equipped with his ARS, or Augmented Reality Suit, Sam is more than a match for the seemingly endless horde of robot adversaries. The suit (don't worry, you don't lose it or anything) gives Sam abilities like quick dodging and a crazy rocket-slide move to quickly traverse the environment. Dodging and aiming at the same time, or aiming while sliding, enters a slo-mo mode which is basically required for the tougher, larger enemies in the game.
The suit overheats if you use it too liberally, indicated by a depleting/recharging bar on the HUD. An overheated suit means you can't use slo-mo, dash, or dodge quickly, turning you into more or less an average dude. Using a melee attack also overheats you instantly, so it's best used sparingly.
Weapon-wise, there's a healthy, if small, selection of guns for Sam to use. Sam can "store" three weapons at a time into his BLADE system. What this means is all your guns are part of the same device. In other words, you're treated to a neat animation of your gun transforming to another gun whenever you switch. Not only is it cool-looking, it also saves you from putting up with annoying weapon swap animations a la Lost Planet or something.
You're gonna need all the weapons and rocket dashing you can get. Vanquish presents a manageable, but sometimes stiff, challenge. Most of your enemies are standard grunts that you can take out easily, but sometimes you can get overwhelmed if you're not careful. And the boss battles, which are typically multi-stage battles against huge, hulking bots, can be very tough, due to the somewhat controversial instant-kill moves they can launch against Sam. To be fair, these attacks are telegraphed in advance, so they shouldn't be a problem if you're good at the game. Good enough, at least, to know when to duck.
My favorite part of Vanquish, aside from the sheer adrenaline rush you get from playing, is the score system. Similar to Madworld, another Platinum title, Vanquish has you chasing a high score throughout the game. You lose points for taking cover too long and dying, while gaining extra points for pulling off headshots and just generally being awesome. It's great to care about your performance in a game again, particularly if you're an old-school gamer like me.
Vanquish comes wrapped up in a pretty looking, but rather...sterile package. There's a lot of cool robot designs and character models on display, and Sam's suit has all sorts of moving parts and little details, but the environment never changes. It's the same space colony setting throughout. Which is understandable from a story standpoint, but it gets a little stale by the end of the 4-5 hour adventure. There's a talented voice cast at work here, with Gideon Emery as Sam (who you might remember as Balthier from Final Fantasy XII) and Steve Blum, from everything. Play the game with a nice set of speakers with good bass, as basically everything in Vanquish is exploding always.
Play (or replay) Vanquish if you're looking for a game that gets your blood pumping. It's an incredibly fast paced game, slowing down only to tell you a story that you might end up caring about a bit by the time the game is done. Or play it if you don't have Titanfall yet and wanna get your futuristic sci-fi robot bashing fix. The game's only like 5 hours at best, and there's no multiplayer, but you'll likely not forget your time with Vanquish anytime soon.
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Next week, I look at a first person game with a melee focus. One that hadn't really been done before, and really hasn't been done since.