Top positive review
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Quite simply a kick 'ARS' experience
on 22 October 2010
Rocket-sliding on your knees? Stylish third-person shooting? Bullets flying anywhere and everywhere? No, don't rub your eyes in disbelief after having read that, forget the adrenaline shot and let Vanquish provide it for you!
You play the role of Sam Gideon, an american agent of DARPA sent on a mission to stop a russian extremist group in outer space. The russians have taken over an orbital space station which harvests energy, they use the power of this colossal structure to launch a devastating attack on San Francisco. The leader of the extremists demands that the US surrender to their cause or they will launch another attack on New York City. It's your job to take up the fight against these devilish foes, with the help of the US army to take back the station. Sam has an ace up sleeve, an experimental prototype battle suit known as ARS which is more than capable to lead the assault.
I wasn't blown away by the story, it's very tacked on and the characters aren't memorable. Sam does have a snazzy attitude to him but sadly supporting characters are quite dull cliches. Cutscenes are kept short, dialogue is never a burden on the player which keeps everything moving at a solid pace.
GRAPHICS + SOUND
First and foremost, a special mention must go to Sam's battle suit, it just looks the business. Made up of many different joints and moving parts, glowing areas and it's just very detailed overall. Changing weapons incorporates the BLADE system, different gun shapes can be formed in real time (shotguns, assault rifles, rocket launchers etc.) and it just compliments the futuristic look of the suit so well. Environments are again very detailed, 30 million people live on the station so there are cities sprawled everywhere. Beautiful vistas show the scale of the station as you look into distance. Shiny metallic surfaces, skyscrapers rising into the sky gives everything a very high-tech feel. The enemies in the game are robots, they come in various shapes, sizes and designs. Bosses are massive and take up the entire screen! The designs are detailed and more importantly the weak spots are easily visible which helps your strategy on the battlefield. On the subject of the battlefield, chaos is the name of the game.Bullets are flying everywhere, explosions happening mere inches from your feet, enemy aircrafts making your life hell as you charge forward. It all looks fantastic and it truly feels like you have a real fight on your hands. The soundtrack gives off a techno beat, compliments the gameplay very well. Sound effects are top notch and have great presence during the action.
With all the action happening on screen, there were some instances of slow down or temporal freezing during certain action sequences. There are some issues with texture pop-in but these are very rare. The voice acting is very cheesy but it was to be expected of the characters.
I'll have to start with Sam's rocket-sliding ability, it's an amazing feature and adds great speed to the gameplay. Vanquish is a cover-to-cover shooter but relying on cover is the last thing you want do. The game urges you to just get out there and smash up some metal junk. The weapons can be upgraded as you progress, increasing ammo or fire rate. New weapons can be incorporated and swapped to mix up the combat situation. Another feature of the ARS battle suit is to slow down time, Sam is able to hop over cover and accurately shoot multiple enemies, whenever he performs an evasive roll then the ARS suit will slow down time automatically to give you the upper hand and keep momentum on your side. Using the slide and AR mode can overheat the suit, you have to use them wisely or you leave yourself open to attack. Another handy feature is if Sam is in a critical state, the AR mode will slow down time and assist your recovery. When you combine the above elements, it's an experience like no other. The speed at which you can move around environments is just frantic, as you slide you can also trigger AR mode which looks spectacular. Bullets are flying everywhere as if hell's broken loose, you're sliding for your life as you watch this mayhem around you. There are also some amazing set piece battles but i wont spoil these for you. The whole idea is to use cover as less as possible, you're even scored at the end of each mission so get out there and tear it up! Oh and when you're behind cover, there's a button which allows Sam to light up a cigarette, There are a few QTE moments, sit back and watch Sam go over the top to finish his enemies. Praise also must also go to the camera, it tracks your movement so well despite the frenetic gameplay.
As far as gameplay downsides go, i would say the upgrade system is slightly weak. All it does is increases ammo or fire rate, it could have been deeper with perhaps adding accuracy, strength or special attachments etc.
I completed Vanquish on Hard, I enjoyed it so much that I immediately started my play-through again, something which I haven't done since playing Ninja Gaiden (XBOX). I've had an amazing time with this game, it's just no holds barred, pure adrenaline, eye-popping action. Challenge rooms can be unlocked, see if you have what it takes to get the fastest times or you can replay missions again which are also timed. The campaign took me about 8 hours, I feel satisfied by the length because of the challenge i set myself on this difficulty. On an easier difficulty the playtime would be far less but that's missing the point, it's a fantastic experience and one not to miss out on.
Shinji Mikami has done it again (not forgetting Platinum games too!). A solid 9/10 from me.