Looking Back At Vanquish
Vanquish is a game that eluded our collection of reviews, for a reason I’m still not entirely sure of to this day. Sure, some of us played it and we featured it in our 2010 game awards as it rightfully deserved to be, but we never disclosed our proper verdict. As such, Vanquish will be our first entry in our “looking back” section, where we’ll be taking a glance back into the past and focusing on games that we never got to review officially. Since games featured here will be old, we’ll try to avoid a typically long and deep analysis, and instead stick to focusing on what’s ultimately important.
Genre: Third Person Shooter
Platforms: PS3, Xbox 360
Developer: Platinum Games
Price: R129 (available at Takealot)
Reviewed On: PS3
This wasn’t a game you played for its story, as those who were interested in it flocked to it for its intense gameplay and shiny graphics. Still, to give you a brief outline, it takes place in the near future where Earth’s population has experienced such rapid growth that nations have began fighting for scarce resources. The USA has tried to fix its problems by sending an O’Neill Cylinder space station fixed with a solar energy-driven generator for use as an alternate energy source. But, unfortunately for the USA, the government of the Russian Federation gets taken over by ultra-nationalist forces named the Order of the Russian Star, who then capture the space station and convert its solar energy into a weapon that destroys San Franciso. The antagonist Victor Zaitsev then demands that the American government surrender or New York City will be next. This leads the president of the USA to send a special task force called Bravo Company to take control back, and the protagonist Sam Gideon forms part of this unit, fully kitted out with an Augmented Reaction Suit, which is a state of the art mechanical suit that gives him a wide range of tools, such as jet boosters and the ability to replicate weapons.
Vanquish was all about over the top, high intensity shooting action. At a basic level it had all the ingredients of a standard over the shoulder shooter, but the moment you sit down and play it you’ll experience something totally unique. I can assure you that you won’t play many games as fast and exhilarating as this one. This game was pretty much on crack, and thanks to your jet boosters you could get around extremely quickly, execute stylistic and awesome slides across the floor, and cool looking rolls. You could also slow down time at will, or if you were close to death the game would do it for you, although your use is of course limited. A cool touch was that you could carry three weapons, and you did this by scanning other weapons and letting your suit create a perfect replica. Weapons were also upgradable. But one of the best things about the game was the cover system though, as it really provided players with a fantastic one. Using your jet boosters, you could slide in and out of cover either to get forward or to retreat, and since cover was destructible, you were always on the move.
One of the best things about Vanquish was that its gameplay was challenging, and you were required to use skill and familiarize yourself with its mechanics if you wanted to be good at it. You could die pretty easily if you played as a rambo or decided to run and gun without caring for tactics or skill. Sure, you could have been boring and played it like a cover shooter, taking your time, hiding away and waiting for the right moment to get off a few shots, but then you’d have been doing yourself a great disservice. The real joy in Vanquish was being good at it, and having an absolute blast getting lost in the non-stop, intense and awesome action. It was about feeling like a boss as you dodged bullets, stylistically took down your enemies, charged from one end of a room to another in a matter of seconds and never experienced a dull moment. Shooters don’t often get better than this.
Vanquish is a great title to look back on because, even if you play it today, two years later, it still measures up to anything else in the genre on the market, because its fast pace, eccentric style and adrenaline pumping action sets it apart and makes it a unique experience, and for me one of the best shooters you can play in this generation of games. What I personally find to be fantastic about it is that it hasn’t aged at all, and neither has its attraction diminished. There hasn’t come a game in the last two years that does what Vanquish does better, or that gives you the same kind of exhilarating action. Even if you only decide to play it now, it will seriously be just as good as it was if you had played it two years ago, and that’s exactly why looking back on it now is pretty awesome and quite exciting.
The only issues I really had with Vanquish was that firstly it was quite short. I was happy to see that no multiplayer was tacked on for the sake of it, because the game itself was extremely polished and it really wouldn’t have been had time been unnecessarily spent on an online component. There just wasn’t much else to it besides the short single-player, unless a ranking system is enough to get you going. You could complete the game in about six hours or so, and there wasn’t any bonus content to speak of. Still, it was a good enough game that you could have played it twice easily. However, the second issue with it was that it lacked variety. It stayed on one note for the majority of the game, and didn’t do a whole lot to mix it up, but fortunately that note was a fantastic one, and the only thing that could have got you down was the fact that it felt like it was over too quickly. Otherwise, there wasn’t anything about the game I particularly disliked, and there’s not much to complain about. To put it bluntly, I still consider it to be one of the best third person shooters you can get your hands on.
Visually, Vanquish was a real treat. It looked stunning, and was a spectacle of chaos, bullets, laser beams, booster rockets and well-used motion blur. It was a rare thrill to see in action, and quite honestly I’d definitely point to this game as a fantastic exhibition of how awesome gaming can be as a visual experience. Its use of colour is great, the environments were very well-detailed, although the inorganic sections were more impressive than the organic, and the action was filled with cool effects. It’s one of the few games that is both great to watch and to play. The audio was also really good, as the game’s music featured some fitting electronic tunes. What was a huge highlight for me about the game was that it was excellently polished, and I can’t say I experienced any technical or graphical hiccups. It was smooth-sailing to play, and you won’t be able to get enough of it from a visual perspective.
Vanquish was an over the top, intense, highly polished and overall excellent game that hit all the right notes and gave you an adrenaline rush that you still won’t find in many other shooters. It was, and still is, a highlight of the genre, and something you should definitely try to play if you haven’t, especially now that you can get it for much cheaper. It’s completely worth it. The only issues with it was that it was relatively short and lacked game variety, but those flaws could almost be forgiven because of what a great game it was. This is just too good an experience to pass up if you haven’t yet played it.