Graphics:
8.7
Gameplay:
8.8
Sound:
8.3
Control:
8.6
Replay Value:
8.0
Overall Rating:
8.5
Online Gameplay:
Not Rated
Publisher:
Sega
Developer:
Platinum Games
Number Of Players:
1
Genre:
Action


It was dubbed “ Gears of War on crack.” It was designed to be a fast-paced, super-intense third-person shooter that is simply more over-the-top than any other game in the genre. Platinum Games already has the technically impressive Bayonetta on its resume for 2010 and provided Vanquish delivered, the studio would be doubly successful this year. Headed up by noted and borderline legendary creator/director Shinji Mikami, Platinum assembled quite the talented team and made certain to dedicate all resources to the single-player campaign. The result? A damn fine game punctuated by thrill after thrill, supported by responsive and reliable control, and bolstered by a slick sci-fi atmosphere that envelops you from the get-go. The story isn’t much to get excited about, the acting can be questionable, and there is some frustration involved, but other than that… Vanquish kicks ass.

You might be surprised at how good this title looks. I may be deluding myself but I think the final product is sharper and more refined than the demo that dropped last month. Some might want to complain about the lack of richness in the environment but one thing to remember- futuristic science-fiction settings are typically colder. There’s more metal, more uniform-ness, and not a heck of a lot in the way of natural color. Besides, the detail and special effects really impresses throughout; up-close character modeling is excellent as cut-scenes thrive on accomplished presentation. The gameplay visuals may not be beautiful but they offer great immersion and a surprising amount of scope and feel. The backdrops will vary, too; you’re not involved in a ceaseless firefight in the exact same vistas, which was one of my initial concerns. Special effects are a huge highlight, too, as the corresponding sound and impact will kick you right in the nuts.

…that latter point is supposed to be a good thing, by the way. The sound works to emphasize the action, with the aforementioned impact effects reigning supreme; getting nailed with a rocket or missile makes you wince and melee attacks are most satisfying. Really, the effects carry the entire production and do an unbelievable job at combining with the graphics and spectacular effects. The voice acting is sort of up and down but they end up on the positive side of analysis, if only due to the cocky gruffness of Sam and the relatively well-voiced Elena Ivanovna. I also like Victor Zaitsev but other primary characters get a little tiresome, and the writing isn’t good enough for the lesser actors to shine. The soundtrack is just as frenetic as the action so it fits, but it’s a little too repetitive and often takes a back seat to the effects. Normally, this would be a bigger problem but because the action takes center-stage at all times, the effects drowning out the music isn’t as big of a downfall. Still, it’s an issue worth mentioning.

While Vanquish may exist within the skin of a third-person shooter, it feels like a very different animal. Due to the sheer speed, it almost feels as if somebody gave Bayonetta a gun. Sam Gideon is a typically over-confident elite soldier who wears a special Augmented Reaction Suit (ARS). It allows him to slide for extended periods of time, execute powerful melee attacks, and coolest of all, pump enemies full of lead during a unique bullet-time mode (AR Mode). When dodging, if you hit the L1 button you’ll enable this mode, where time slows and you can really light up one or multiple foes. Even general moving and snapping into cover is quick, and the smaller, faster enemies can leap all over the place. They’re usually not the problem, though, as the bigger, super-enhanced enemies with massive firepower represent your primary concern.

With a game like this, you need pinpoint control and a reliable camera, or all is lost. The good news is that everything comes together nicely: despite the speed, control remains responsive and accurate and you always have a firm grasp on Sam, and the camera usually keeps up. There was one instance on a train, when another train – equipped with plenty of enemies, of course – actually ended up being above me, and aiming during that situation was an exercise in frustration. Furthermore, there are times when that super-fast sliding can cause issues, because you might slide into something that the camera doesn’t quite see. This happened numerous times but if you understand your surroundings, this shouldn’t occur too often. Besides, I should admit I was trying to get the basic controls and/or camera to fail. But both proved surprisingly resistant to my efforts and that’s big plus.

The combination of action and strategy is also impressive, and one of the game’s biggest highlights for me. You can carry up to four weapons at once, and each can be switched out for other firearms you find, or upgraded. In other words, picking up the Heavy Machine Gun multiple times will result in multiple upgrades and the same goes for any weapon. So if you want to really focus on one or two weapons – which might not be a bad idea – for a set of missions or even an entire act, you’ve got to find the right pick-ups. This requires you to be more accurate with your shots so you’re not running out of ammo and dropping weapons so often. On top of which, because your suit can overheat due to excessive sliding, AR Mode utilization, or melee attacks, you really want to conserve and execute your special abilities until the time is right. Your suit will overheat when low on health, too, and the AR Mode kicks in automatically when on the brink of death… such a nice feature.

Ever mission in every act is just plain loaded . There’s always something to shoot and you’re always in imminent danger of being utterly trashed. This means you’re always entertained and yet, the quest doesn’t feel tiresome because you’re constantly on the edge of your seat. Platinum also does a good job in terms of variety and diversity; they do some pretty sick things with this formula, and you won’t normally be doing the exact same thing two missions in a row. Still, I have to say that the continual onslaught of enemies can start to wear on you and if you’re low on ammo and your allies aren’t helping much, you will feel quite outmatched. It’s a terrible feeling but it is avoidable if you hone your skills. This does bring me to one of the game’s biggest downfalls, though- your allies don’t seem to do much of anything, besides fall down and require assistance. I would wait and watch to see if they’d kill something, and three or four allies would sometimes let one weak foe stand there and fire forever.

Then there’s the story, which – although it isn’t the focus, obviously – doesn’t really excel in regards to dialogue, writing, drama and pacing. Russia has their finger on the trigger and at the start, they prove their technological superiority by leveling San Francisco and threatening New York. And so, they demand the unconditional surrender of the US. …but we don’t negotiate with terrorists and so all hell breaks loose. There are a few interesting twists here and there but that’s about it. And as I hinted at before, I wasn’t always convinced by the voice acting, the sound effects can drown out the music (which can get repetitive), and the camera isn’t 100% perfect. I also felt myself getting a tad bored when yet another barrage of powerful enemies with crazy firepower attacked, and my allies made a good show of helping…but I still had to handle things myself. But at the end of the day, the action will leave you breathless.

Vanquish is technically proficient and does a lot of things extremely well. What it does best is give the player a continual sense of urgency and immersion, two traits that are often difficult to maintain. The special effects in terms of both visual and audio are fantastic, the control is better than functional, the enemies offer a significant challenge, and there’s a fair amount of variety in the campaign. As you probably know, it doesn’t have multiplayer but then again, it doesn’t need it. The game is certainly longer than the 4 hours you may have heard from other sources; it’s much closer to the 10 hours the developer has claimed. It’s not perfect but Vanquish is one hell of a ride, and one well worth taking.

The Good: Awesome action. Great control. Super sweet weapons. Slick presentation and style that will really grab you. Surprising variety. Some strong performances. High production value and ceaseless entertainment.

The Bad: Allies aren’t very effective. Continual feeling of being outgunned can get tiresome. Average story with some weak performances.

The Ugly: Cheapness; i.e., enemy accuracy is too perfect.

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LimitedVertigo
LimitedVertigo
10 years ago

I'll try this game out for sure. I liked your summary at the end of the review. I bet reviewing this game was a tad bit easier than when you did Demon's Souls last year.

laxpro2001
laxpro2001
10 years ago

Whoa! what happened to shorter reviews lol. Just kidding of course as its all relevant and I appreciate it 😉

Also I definitely like the good bad and ugly section. Reminds me of kotaku which is good because their the only other review source I'll ever look at, mostly because I like their format.

King James
King James
10 years ago

I'm coping it!

WorldEndsWithMe
WorldEndsWithMe
10 years ago

You're coping with it?

King James
King James
10 years ago

lol! Copping it….u no wha I meant.


Last edited by King James on 10/19/2010 10:12:20 PM

LimitedVertigo
LimitedVertigo
10 years ago

copping?

Shams
Shams
10 years ago

Copying?

WorldEndsWithMe
WorldEndsWithMe
10 years ago

lol, I enjoy instigating things.

LimitedVertigo
LimitedVertigo
10 years ago

::grin::

ace_boon_coon
ace_boon_coon
10 years ago

copping=buying duhhhhh

Shams
Shams
10 years ago

Cool. And you're right about the Bayonetta with a gun obervation. I read that it uses the same engine, but unlike last time's porting fiasco, was done in house this time, and optimized to the point of cross-platform parity. I'll get this one sooner than later.

Qubex
Qubex
10 years ago

I was awaiting for this review. Having seen much video footage about the game and playing the demo, I did come away impressed overall.

Only thing I would say Ben is I expected 9 or above on the graphics front. I thought the engine was superb, and the graphics full bodied in every sense.

Q!

"play.experience.enjoy"

Shams
Shams
10 years ago

I have noticed Ben's graphics scores being less generous recently, too, but perhaps that has to do with the competition and raised standards this far into the generation. Uncharted 2, GOW3, Killzone 2, and even RDR and AC2 have raised the bar for everyone.

Temjin001
Temjin001
10 years ago

Hopefully the full game looks sharper than the demo, like Ben thinks. I was really put off by the blurry look.

WorldEndsWithMe
WorldEndsWithMe
10 years ago

Bayonetta has guns. Anyway, that's pretty much what I expected from it. Sounds like a blast for adrenaline junkies. If I see at at Blockbuster for ten bucks I might grab it.

LimitedVertigo
LimitedVertigo
10 years ago

You know what he means…

Ugh…there you go again with the damn Blockbuster!


Last edited by LimitedVertigo on 10/19/2010 10:08:43 PM

King James
King James
10 years ago

a Blockbuster?! is it '98 again?

hellish_devil
hellish_devil
10 years ago

…and it had tubas!

LimitedVertigo
LimitedVertigo
10 years ago

King James,

It's 99, not 98.

WorldEndsWithMe
WorldEndsWithMe
10 years ago

Yup, there's a blockbuster nexta my house. I pay 15 bucks a month for the pleasure of actually leaving my home to pick out the movies I want that night.

And yeah… it's Blockbuster, so what if it's a brick and mortar store? So what if it's so old it has a kickstand?


Last edited by WorldEndsWithMe on 10/19/2010 10:23:16 PM

MyWorstNightmar
MyWorstNightmar
10 years ago

What is wrong with Blockbuster? Besides going bankrupt that is…

Temjin001
Temjin001
10 years ago

Yeah, surprisingly, you can find a lot of great used game deals at Blockbuster. It's where I got Uncharted 2 for $24.99.
I saw Darksiders there a few days ago for $14.99

I'll have to wait before taking a stab at Vanquish. It looks worth my time, but I won't drop $60 bucks.
And seeing that I was able to pick up both Bayonetta and Mass Effect 2 this year for about $20 a piece I doubt it'll take long.

LimitedVertigo
LimitedVertigo
10 years ago

So what?

Well….um….(ya I'm doing another list)

-Their version of blue is pathetic
-They seldom have enough selection in stock
-They're a$$holes
-If I want to visit an actual building it will server booze and food
-You pay $15 for what I get for $8.99 plus I don't have to waste time walking to get it.
-It makes you kinda gay
-No one goes there but elderly people, Mexicans, and you…
-There's a reason they're filing bankruptcy every other year
-It's not 1999

Shams
Shams
10 years ago

If one can find a Blockbuster. They're only a few left at most here in my state, MA, but i imagine there are pockets of 'em else where. When the economy went south, and Redboxes and NetFlix took off, BB got hurt.

MyWorstNightmar
MyWorstNightmar
10 years ago

Limited, I don't know about the 15.99 and having to go into the store.

I pay 20.00 for 3 movies or games at a time, all done through the mail. I can exchange in the store if I want, but not required.

It did turn me gay though, so you got me there.


Last edited by MyWorstNightmar on 10/19/2010 10:37:56 PM

WorldEndsWithMe
WorldEndsWithMe
10 years ago

Mine has nice people, this one dude always knows whether I'd like something or not. I like the freedom to choose, and to pick what I want for that day, not something in a queue.

I'm sure I'll have to get netflix and sit at home getting fat like everyone else when they close it down, but some day I'd like to say to my son: World Junior, back in the day we left the house to rent movies and even to shop for things. 🙂

LimitedVertigo
LimitedVertigo
10 years ago

HAHA, great explanation. I concede, you can have your Blockbuster. Don't forget when you tuck World Jr into bed to tell him the story of the Dreamcast and it's 56k modem.

Temjin001
Temjin001
10 years ago

I would do online console rentals a lot more often if the HD version weren't like $6 for a day.
The Netflix route seems a lot more economical. Which is strange cause direct PSN/LIVE movie downloads aren't dealing with any kind of physical media. I'd think it'd be cheaper. Maybe there's a premium because of the value of connivence.


Last edited by Temjin001 on 10/19/2010 10:52:58 PM

WorldEndsWithMe
WorldEndsWithMe
10 years ago

Actually I'd like to get netflix just so I can stream on my PS3… but I might hafta do the trial first cuz I dunno if I get a good enough connection from my wireless.

LimitedVertigo
LimitedVertigo
10 years ago

I'm sure you do World. I brought my PS3 with me when visiting my parents over the summer and they have slow DSL, like 256kslow and Netlfix did boot up a little slower than at my place but once it did everything was seamless, just like it is at my place on 12mb Cable.

Plus you're wireless only has to be above 85%signal to get the most from the internet capabilities of the PS3, at least from my experiences.

If you want the free trial I have one to give out.

Ben Dutka PSXE
Ben Dutka PSXE
10 years ago

Okay, so like…that OT rule we have? It's…pretty real. I promise.

Don't get me wrong; I love lots of comments but…well, you know.


Last edited by Ben Dutka PSXE on 10/19/2010 11:27:16 PM

WorldEndsWithMe
WorldEndsWithMe
10 years ago

Do I hafta give em my credit card number? I don't like doing that.

WorldEndsWithMe
WorldEndsWithMe
10 years ago

Woops, heh, I guess when the forums are clean again we can do this stuff there.


Last edited by WorldEndsWithMe on 10/19/2010 11:53:12 PM

Ben Dutka PSXE
Ben Dutka PSXE
10 years ago

What's wrong with the forums?

WorldEndsWithMe
WorldEndsWithMe
10 years ago

Riff-raff

ace_boon_coon
ace_boon_coon
10 years ago

@ Ben

what's OT rules?

frylock25
frylock25
10 years ago

Off Topic rule: he has asked that we try to stay on topic and not take over the comments section with our nonsense. a little fun is a little fun but when we start taking over an article with World banged LV's mom comments hes still needs to be an administrator.

ace_boon_coon
ace_boon_coon
10 years ago

lol ahhhh i see i see. LV and world always crack me up with their off topic comments lol.


Last edited by ace_boon_coon on 10/20/2010 6:47:11 PM

hellish_devil
hellish_devil
10 years ago

Having read your review Ben, it seems to me that the 8.5 is a bit too short. It sounds like a 9 to me (based on the content of your review).


Last edited by hellish_devil on 10/19/2010 10:12:14 PM

MyWorstNightmar
MyWorstNightmar
10 years ago

Ben, can you please round up to a 9? Thanks in advance.

Ben Dutka PSXE
Ben Dutka PSXE
10 years ago

If it was a 9, it wouldn't have such significant drawbacks listed under "The Bad," and I wouldn't have spent a paragraph and a half talking about the shortcomings. 🙂

Besides, if we give something an 8.5, you should probably play it. 9+ is reserved for the elite.


Last edited by Ben Dutka PSXE on 10/19/2010 10:28:07 PM

LimitedVertigo
LimitedVertigo
10 years ago

Anything above 8 from Ben is a game worthy of playing. I mean come on, is it really a big deal if it's 8.5 or 9.0?

Alienange
Alienange
10 years ago

A fantastic review if ever there was one. It makes you sound a bit like a twitch gamer but I'm not prejudice (:p) From what you've written here, the game is obviously a superior production.

I will say though that I was a little bummed by the lack of mp and the 10 hour campaign. I was hoping you'd mention what these great extras were that the devs mentioned. Alas, you did not.

LimitedVertigo
LimitedVertigo
10 years ago

Are you going to buy this used?

Alienange
Alienange
10 years ago

Buying used if for blind, gullible cheapos.

No offense to blind people.

MyWorstNightmar
MyWorstNightmar
10 years ago

Not to mention blind people probably shouldn't be playing video games.

Alienange
Alienange
10 years ago

Or reading this.

LimitedVertigo
LimitedVertigo
10 years ago

What about the gays?

MyWorstNightmar
MyWorstNightmar
10 years ago

Or Canadians. They're the worst.

Ben Dutka PSXE
Ben Dutka PSXE
10 years ago

…please?