Vanquish Review
Xbox 360 | PS3
Vanquish box art
System: PS3, X360 Review Rating Legend
Dev: Platinum Games 1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid 4.0 - 4.4 = Great
Pub: Sega 2.0 - 2.4 = Poor 4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy
Release: Oct. 19, 2010 2.5 - 2.9 = Average 5.0 = The Best
Players: 1 3.0 - 3.4 = Fair
ESRB Rating: Mature 3.5 - 3.9 = Good

You’ll also need to master these skills, because this one’s often relentless. If there’s one thing Vanquish avoids, it’s subtlety—enemies descend from drop ships in hordes and fire in volleys at you from heavily entrenched positions. Unit types don’t differentiate too much, but your foes quickly move from small groups of mechanical grunts to specialized classes like snipers and melee to hulking 15-20 foot tall tanks, transport vessels and massive, screen-filling mechanical monsters.

Vanquish screenshot

Vanquish’s campaign follows the minute-by-minute events of a wide-scale military counter-measure offensive, and though it isn’t that long a game—you should be able to blow through it in between four and six hours—the sheer intensity and number of enemies make the game’s escalation of conflict particularly grueling. With so much adrenaline and testosterone running on all cylinders, it can be downright exhausting to play this for more than, say, an hour at a time.

And despite Vanquish’s Japanese influence and aesthetic, it’s clearly aware of its identity as a western shooter. The game’s conceit, which involves a war in the near-future against the United States and Russia, is nearly all we get as real narrative; Vanquish would rather focus its attentions on delivering spades of over-the-top, goofy military dialogue and following each and every objective that Sam and the marines must tackle. But Mikami seems to be poking fun at the meatheaded stereotypes these kinds of games are known for. The marines’ CO, a tough-as-nails, muscle-bound caricature named Burns, routinely growls lines like, “Oh, you robo-f—k!” and makes fun of Sam’s use of tactical jargon in battle. Similarly, when Sam rescues a group of marines from electrically-charged prisons early on in the game, they complain that he shouldn’t have rescued them because the electricity, say, cured their back problems, or otherwise felt good. Sam also smokes every chance he gets when not in battle, which just adds a layer of anime-style ridiculousness over everything else—he even pulls one out at one point when dangling by one hand over a yawning abyss. While the game is supposed to be a serious undertaking in some ways, it’s pretty obvious that some elements of Vanquish are intentionally tongue-in-cheek.

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Shinji Mikami has had a pretty successful career getting his hands dirty with interesting ideas. And if even if they don’t always work (read: P.N. 03), Vanquish has the potential to be a promising new IP with a lot of room to grow. If the game is a success, I’d love to see a sequel with a full-on upgrade system for Sam’s suit (rather than just the strangely understated weapons-based one seen here), as well as different applications for it. A few more setpieces wouldn’t hurt either, although the bombastic ones here are still pretty thrilling. Vanquish may be a fully modern game and western-style game, yet its non-stop, over-the-top style and pumping soundtrack is also reminiscent of Contra or Square’s underrated horizontal shooter Einhander—titles that are Japanese through and through. It would be easy enough to recommend Vanquish for its gameplay merits alone, but if you consider yourself a fan of both Western and Japanese games, missing out on one that bridges the design gap as well as Vanquish does would be downright foolish.

By Steve Haske
CCC Freelance Writer

RATING OUT OF 5
RATING DESCRIPTION
4.5
Graphics
I don’t know what kind of proprietary engine Platinum used here, but this game gorgeous is gorgeous.
4.0
Control
Sam’s AR suit is exceedingly easy to navigate, though the speed can throw off precision stops behind cover. This is a great modification of your standard cover shooter control scheme, and you’ll never want to stop powersliding.
3.7
Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
The exchanges between Sam and Burns are pretty entertaining, and sometimes may even make you laugh out loud over the sheer ridiculousness. The sound of war rips all around you at all times, while Vanquish’s soundtrack will make you feel like you’re at a European trance rave.
4.2
Play Value
Vanquish is great fun while it lasts, though it only lasts about six hours (if only there was more to do!). Still, absolutely worth playing.
4.1
Overall Rating - Great
Not an average. See Rating legend above for a final score breakdown.

Game Features:

  • The latest game from Resident Evil creator Shinji Mikami
  • Experience a new take on action gaming in this futuristic sci-fi shooter
  • Unlock extra challenges as you progress


  • Screenshots / Images
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