Review – Vanquish

Platinum Games and Shinji Mikami, the legend behind Resident Evil, brings us Vanquish. A sci-fi shooter that takes place on a vast space station and set in the distant future where nations are battling over the planet’s remaining energy resources.

Read our review after the jump.

Vanquish takes place in the distant future where the planet’s human population has exploded and people around the globe are fighting for the scarce available resources. The USA has attempted to alleviate its own energy problems by launching a space station with a solar generator to provide them with a new source of fuel from the sun. Russian forces capture the space station and use its solar energy as a weapon and blast San Francisco destroying the city and killing everyone. Victor Zaitsev, the leader of the Russian forces, demands that the US Government surrenders or he will use the ray on New York City next.

The US President, who also happens to be the first ever female President, refuses to back down of course and that is where the game takes off. She hands the reigns of Bravo Company, a special forces team, over to Lieutenant-Colonel Robert Burns, a decorated war veteran. Included on the team is your playable character Sam Gideon. He is a Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) researcher equipped with an Augmented Reaction Suit (ARS), a cutting-edge mechanical suit outfitted with jet boosters attached to both arms and legs. He also has an experimental weapon system called BLADE, which is capable of scanning any existing weapon and then transforming into a perfect replica of that weapon. Its ability to store three scans at a time means that at any given time the BLADE can shapeshift between three completely different guns.

In addition to taking back the space station, Sam is also ordered to rescue a scientist named Dr. Francis Candide, who was working on-site when the station was attacked. The Doctor is taking matters into his own hands and is trying to disable the array himself before it can be used to destroy another city.

The gameplay is rather unique thanks to the ability to slide/thrust and slow down time at the same time. Bullet time (called ARS mode in this game) itself isn’t new, but the added melee attacks combined with multiple weapons at your disposal while in this mode is. The ability to upgrade your weapons just by gathering more of the same types is also a nice addition and comes in handy as you face all of the boss battles.

The game wastes no time getting you involved in the action, and you’ll be facing your first boss battle before you know it. The boss battles themselves set themselves apart from the rest of the game with their complexity. You can’t just blast aimlessly at most bosses and expect to take them out. You’ll need to figure out a good strategy, and stick with it. The final boss battle will have you taking on two bosses at one time, so make sure you have your weapons fully upgraded by then.

The length of the story clocks in around eight to ten hours, depending on your skill level and difficulty selected. As you complete the story mode you unlock challenge levels, and this adds to the replayability of the game. Challenge mode consists of five levels to start with, and a sixth mode that is unlocked once you complete the first five. To survive each challenge, you have to get through five waves of enemies that get progressively harder. To say it’s a daunting task is an understatement. Once the story is completed, ‘God Hard’ difficulty is unlocked, but unless you are well skilled and enjoy dying, you’ll probably want to skip that. Your stats are recorded for each level and you can see how you stack up against other players across your chosen platform.

The graphics for the game are top notch. The cut scenes are as good as any title around and the game play graphics match up, or surpass, any other third party title.The battle animations are well thought out and with the ability of ARS slo-mo, you can really see the details.

The levels themselves are well designed, and the detail is excellent. The range of environments are impressive since the game takes place on a space station. You’ll see the interior of the ship as well as trees, grass, and water in the outside world of the space station. The open environments are pretty large and are gorgeous to look at.

The enemy robots are detailed nicely, and destruction in ARS slo-mo looks great. Bullet trails are also well defined in ARS mode and make them easy to dodge. The range of types of robots are large and taking them out gets progressively harder the farther you get along in the story. The design of the bosses is well thought out, and as I said before, taking them out can be a challenge.

The music of the game fits the tempo of each level well and the pulsating beat can really get your adrenaline pumping and get you into the battle. The music itself has a nice clear sound to and is easy to listen to as you play along. The sounds of the weapons are also spot on and fit the overall feel of the game well.

Platinum Games and Shinji Mikami put together Vanquish to try and set it apart from other shooters on the market, and did a good job of it. The levels are large and well designed, the graphics are top notch, and the gameplay is fun, fast, and addicting. It is another shooter, but it’s well worth the price.