I bought this game after playing four hours of it at a friend's house and I love this game to pieces from explosive beginning to explosive end. This may be the most overlooked game of 2010, through no fault of its own.
Vanquish is an action game that combines ninja acrobatics, breakneck racecar speed, and cover-based shooting inside a nuclear-powered battlesuit that can slow time. It's fun, it's stylish, and it's completely crazy.
The premise is simple: you're Sam Gideon, the fleshy wad beneath your nuclear powered battlesuit. Russians on a space station nuked San Francisco with a giant microwave, and you've got to stop the same from happening to New York. Along with you for the ride: a regiment of space marines right out of the movie Aliens, and a hot communications chick in the veins of Anya or Cortana. Standing in your way: a massive robot army whose torsos aren't going to separate from their legs without your help.
On its surface, Vanquish is a standard third-person shooter. That means you can take cover behind walls and barriers and pop out to shoot, roll to dodge incoming fire, and have the standard variety of shooter weapons at your disposal. The core mechanic of the game that separates it from games like Gears of War is that your nuclear-powered battlesuit can turboboost you in a slide (like on the cover), and while you boost or perform other acrobatic actions you can activate slow-mo to really put the hurt on enemies.
Also, in Gears of War, you won't get to run (yes RUN) up the side of a three-story tall war robot and then shove a cannon shell the size of a car back into the gun it was fired out of.
The game is constantly exciting. There are always things shooting at you, always things blowing up, and the time not spent recovering from bullet wounds you'll spend alternating between shooting and kung-fuing robots so hard they explode into tiny robot pieces. Vanquish can be a hard game, though--the constant enemy fire, explosions, and occasional insta-kill attacks can get overwhelming, and experience with action games is recommended. This isn't the game to get your girlfriend into gaming, is what I'm trying to say.
There is also humor, though whether it was intended is debatable. You've got to see it to believe the interpretation of American machismo that game director Shinji Mikami cooked up. Your protagonist Sam can pause in the middle of battle to fold away his hi-tech helmet and take a smoke break--his cigarettes can be tossed, and explodes like a grenade. Playing the foil is a gigantic grizzled war veteran with a huge metal arm, who probably reached his size only through copious amounts of horse-steroids. The villain of course is an effeminate Russian who is probably bisexual. I'd call it self-parody, but if it's made by the Japanese, wouldn't it just be plain parody?
Perhaps the biggest obstacle to people buying this game, though, is the fact that it has no multiplayer. Nope, Vanquish is a one-person experience through and through.
In summary, Vanquish is a very fun, very unique, wholly recommendable and rewardingly challenging game. After playing this game, you'll go back to Call of Duty: Black Ops and wonder why there's no rocket-booster powerslide option.