Vanquish Review

Playing Vanquish is cleansing much in the same way that seeing a ridiculous summer action flick is. Sure, the story can be absurd and defy all logic, and the action can be all style and no substance, but you get what you want out of it, and that is to have a good time. Vanquish won’t win any awards for originality or for it’s existentialistic themes, but damn if it isn’t one hell of an action-packed game filled to the brim with explosions, bullets and humongous communist robots.

To be up front, Vanquish is a shorter game than most, yet Platinum Games’ all-killer-no-filler approach to Vanquish benefits it greatly. Rather than artificially extend the experience with unnecessary things like stealth and platforming sections, backtracking, and a tacked-on multiplayer, they concentrated on delivering a pure action-focused, single-player adventure. It’s a wholesome shot of adrenaline from start to finish that feels satisfying by the end. So if you’re looking for deep, online multiplayer, hours of exploration, or clever dialogue, you can easily find that this holiday season, but not in Vanquish. To put it simply, if you liked what you played in the demo, then you’re basically getting four to five more hours of that in the full game. While that may sound bad to some people, I personally found it refreshing not to have another 40+ hour game to play this fall.


Vanquish‘s combat mechanics — aiming, switching weapons, and taking cover — are very smooth and work similarly to other third-person shooters. The one major difference is that by holding down one button, the player can zip around and slide on what are essentially rocket skates. This simple addition to the core mechanics makes combat and taking cover exhilarating and incredibly fast. Even better, sliding around at high speeds can be used in conjunction with melee attacks to make them even more forceful, and manually aiming during a slide induces a slow motion "bullet time" effect, making it possible lay down even more damage to those commie robots.

It also makes traversing large areas possible to do in seconds. The fact that you can move so quickly through Vanquish‘s environments probably adds to the fact that game doesn’t take long to finish, but it’s so much fun and looks so cool that makes it makes up for the game’s brevity.

The only complaint I have about the power slide and bullet time is that using these abilities causes your battle suit to overheat, and once it does, the suit goes into a cooldown time in which none of your special abilities can be used. Using a melee attack will instantly overheat your battle suit, so while it’s extremely effective against a single enemy, it will leave you in big trouble if used in the middle of the battlefield. And once the battle suit takes too much damage, the game forces you into bullet time for a chance to kill your attackers, but also leaves you completely vulnerable because your suit will still overheat and go into it’s cooldown period. Forcing the player into an awkward and frustrating situation like this when they are near death and taking away all their useful special abilities is a questionable design choice, and seems to counter the game’s action-oriented style. However, these gripes barely come into play on the lower difficulties, and skilled players should be able to use cover and the power slide move to effectively avoid attacks.

Vanquish also looks and sounds spectacular in combination with the smooth controls. Many of the environments are actually quite beautiful despite taking place entirely on one massive space station, and some areas have really nice lighting effects that caught me off guard. The audio is a wonderful but constant bombardment of explosions, gunfire, and intermittent battlefield chatter. Speaking of chatter, this game features some of the most blatant and unrestrained use of F-bombs I’ve heard in a while. I wish there was a stat in the game that tracked how many times I heard a teammate scream "F***in’ robots!" in the middle of battle. Fans of cheesy sci-fi flicks like Starship Troopers will also notice a direct reference to the film early in the game, which made me smile a bit.


Like Platinum Games’ previous release, Bayonetta, Vanquish has some very stylized, and, for lack of a better term, over-the-top cutscenes. And also like Bayonetta, if you try to take Vanquish too seriously, it loses all of its charm and fun. Protagonist Sam Gideon is (stop me of you’ve never heard this before) a gruff-voiced badass, and is always lighting up a cigarette during cutscenes, despite the fact that he’s wearing a battle suit with a facemask. He runs at impossible speeds and on top of things that humans weren’t ever meant to run on, has superhuman strength, and can fall absurd distances and recover without effort. Oh and once again, get used to hearing a lot of F-bombs being dropped here.

The bottom line is that Vanquish is an excellent action game, so just go play it. It’s the perfect type of game to play at this time of year, when everything coming out is a major release in a known franchise or something that can be played for dozens of hours. Whether you rent or buy Vanquish is up to you, but either way it’s a fine action game that is worth your time.

4 out of 5 


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Author: Tyler Cameron View all posts by

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