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One Bullet Hell of a Rollercoaster Ride

  • Mar 1, 2011
Rating:
+4
So when it comes to third-person shooter games these days, a lot of game developers tend to reinvent the wheel of what made this genre so good while adding their own unique flare...only to be misconceived by players who associate these games by other recognizable titles, Gears of War or otherwise. Of course, such a conception is left for debate. However, Platinum Games of  MadWorld and Bayonetta fame took this TPS genre and developed a game with a flare that was never displayed in any third-person shooter: Vanquish.

Presentation/Story:

Vanquish presents to you pretty lightly with a good looking menu screen with simple options. You can only start off playing the single-player campaign and, as you progress, unlock the Challenge mode to test your skills. The options menu provide the usual button mapping, sensitivity and language of choice.

The overall beginning of the story is that in the distant future, mankind has reached the evolutionary stage that resulted in a massive global recession with governmental superpowers fighting for new resources. As a temporary solution, the United States has created a satellite used to absorb energy from the sun. The antagonistic militia known as the "Russian Star" have taken over this satellite and used its solar power to destroy San Fransisco. I can say that the destruction was rather bloody.

This is where you play as a researcher of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), Sam Gideon, trained to utilize the facility's new series of military weaponry known as the Augmented Reaction Suit (ARS). You are on a secret mission, along with a very fond female operator, to rescue a scientist from DARPA who's about to be used by Russian Star as a subject of an unknown plan. You are also grouped with the walking, war-hero archetype, Robert Burns and his Bravo squad, to help stop the Russians and their army of robots from using the solar-powered satellite to destroy New York City.



I may have made the story sound interesting, but that is indeed how the story plays out. Because the usual playthrough of Vanquish is about seven to eight hours, the story is very lackluster with only short moments of character development, corny dialogue, plot-holes that should've been filled, and an ending that merits a sequel. At times it takes itself seriously. Other times it attempts to be funny. As you play the game, however, the only thing you need to know is that there are a lot of Russian robots that could use a major ass-whooping.

What truly gives Vanquish a name for itself is that it is fast-paced, breathtaking, and out of control. Players will be in awe as they partake in battlefields filled with bullets, suspenseful action sequences, and giant robot boss battles. This is what people would refer to as "eye candy," and Vanquish is full of it.

Gameplay:

Given that this is a third-person shooter, Vanquish has the usual cover-and-shoot mechanics. However, you are required to do much more with Sam's ARS Suit. For example, replace the sprint mechanic with the ARS' boosters that help you slide across the battlefield. Since the suit is made for increasing the timing of your reactions, it allows you to engage "Bullet Time" after dodging or jumping over cover. Using these unique gameplay mechanics, you can change the shape of the battlefield however you wish. The ARS is not perfect. There's a meter that tells you how much of the suit you can use, whether it's these said mechanics, unleashing a flurry of melee attacks, or as you health is reaching a critical state.

Another example is, instead of carrying three weapons at a time, collect their data and forge them into a single weapon. You wield Sam's Battlefield Logic ADaptable Electronic Weapons System (BLADE), which scans existing weapons so you can use those weapons yourself. There's not too much variety of weaponry, but it's more than enough for your experience with Vanquish.

I should note that Vanquish has a very strict learning curve. It does not go easy you, even if you play on Easy Mode (lolirony). Even the normal enemies can be very strict if you don't know what you're doing. This only implies that Vanquish is meant for the hardcore crowd, those who want a real challenge and wish to use strategy to win, much like the new Ninja Gaiden games.

You are not alone in the battlefield since you are siding with the Bravo squad soldiers. Their A.I. aren't exactly incompetent, but they don't do much damage to enemies. You can use them as distractions if you want to, but you can also heal these soldiers so they can give you extra ammo.

Vanquish also provides many quick-time events that display a lot of badass sequences and "HOLY S***" moments followed by anime-style punches, flips, and anything Japanese game developers usually come up with as seen in this video.



Graphics:

The graphics are what help Vanquish's presentation stand out. The production budget that Platinum Games put into this game must have been very high if you can see the slick details of Sam Gideon's ARS Suit, the facial expression on Burn's face, and even watching the bullets slowing passing you by as you use Bullet Time. The environments, except for the forest stages, truly compliment the mix of Western sci-fi elements from movies and other video games such as the popular Halo franchise. Vanquish is also complete with no screen tearing and few (but easily forgivable) bit-rate losses so that the insane action can never stop.

Sound:

The score of Vanquish is not extraordinary, but the slick, techno music sets the mood in every situation. Even the boss battles provide a different vibe of music; from fighting a giant robot to destroying an 10-story jamming machine with giant lasers.



An interesting note on the sound department is the amount of voicetracks, providing you with voice tracks in English, Japanese, and German (just to name a few). The English track is not entirely great considering the unessecary tone of Sam's voice and what could possibly be the most uncanny performance by Steve Blum (Burns). I've tried each language and they each have their own negatives, but my personal favorites were German or Italian.

Final Verdict:

Vanquish is an exillerating single-player experience of it's own right. The jaw-dropping action and difficulty, as well as its stunning visuals, shows that Platinum Games has created a third-person shooter like no other. Despite that there's no multiplayer mode, this game is made to fill your heart with joy as you plummet the living hell out of the Russian robots. If you're a hardcore gamer who would like to earn the success of beating a video game at the hardest difficulty or if you're a shooter fan who wants to try something new, Vanquish should not be missed.
One Bullet Hell of a Rollercoaster Ride

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More Vanquish reviews
review by . March 11, 2011
Vanquish Review: A Welcome Surprise
As of late, Sega has been on quite a roll when it comes to making titles that are action packed, visually impressive and fun to play. Vanquish more than continues that streak by delivering a third person shooter that pushes the player’s skills not only in terms of the way they actually approach combat but also in their ability to prioritize combat objectives. Vanquish takes place in a future that is not too far from now when the planet’s human population has grown at an unsustainable …
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Vanquish​ 
(ヴァンキッシュ Vankisshu?) is a third-person shooter video game developed by Platinum Games and published by Sega for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 video game consoles. The game was released in October 2010.

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Details

ESRB: M
Number of Players: Single-player
Publisher: Sega
Developer: Platinum Games
Console: PlayStation 3, Xbox 360
Genre: Shooter
Release Date: October 19, 2010 (USA)
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