Vanquish provides a breath of gun powder scented fresh air to a shooter genre that is getting a bit stale. Sure Call of Duty dominates in sales and that's because anyone can feel like a hero in Call of Duty. It's pretty easy, the aiming is taken care of, the production values are through the roof, but on the flip side, experienced gamers do feel like you're being squeezed through an adventure like toothpaste getting squeezed out of a tube. Vanquish puts you in exciting situations and rewards accurate shooting, risk taking, and good judgment.
The story is pretty basic. A battalion of space marines are sent to a space colony stop a fiendish dictator from taking over. You play chain smoking former NFL star Sam Gideon who has been outfitted in a cybernetic suit that gives him superhuman speed and acts as body armor. The dialogue is written and acted like a bunch of 12 year olds got together in their garage and said, "What do tough guy mercenaries talk like?" So, there's lots of swearing and every line of dialogue is shouted and snarled. It comes off as ridiculous, kind of like an R-Rated Popeye Cartoon. Unfortunately, the quirky dialogue prevents this game from feeling truly epic.
Sam Gideon is armed with a cyber suit that protects him, allows him to dash for limited distances at 100 MPH, while the game goes into bullet time. Sam can also take cover and dive roll to avoid enemy projectiles. Sam is armed with an arsenal of upgradeable weapons. There's an accurate light machine gun, a less accurate heavy machine gun, a guided rocket launcher, a lock on laser rifle, a force gun that shoots a sphere of energy that passes through walls, a shotgun, a disc gun that fires giant blades, and a sniper rifle. Sam can also throw two types of grenades. Explosive or Energy, which damage or stun enemy robots, respectively.
So, if you look at this list of guns, they aren't just a list of machine guns that are slightly different. Each gun has its own special purpose and ideal situation. Sam can carry 2 types of grenades and 3 different weapons at a time. It's up to you to figure out what you need.
Sam also has cigarettes which he can light behind cover and throw to distract the heat sensors of the robotic enemies. This gives Sam a small window of opportunity to go on the offensive and take on the enemy forces.
At the end of each mission, (there are 29) you get a scoring summary that rewards you for speed, accuracy, cover, dead enemies, rescued allies, and punishes you for dying. So, if you want to get great at this game, you have to play aggressively. This forces you to quickly enter dangerous situations and battle your way out of them.
There's a great deal of depth and strategy that's missing from most shooters in the genre.
On Easy (Casual) Mode, it's pretty hard to die.
On Normal Mode, it feels pretty fair.
On Hard Mode, it's a tough challenge.
On God Hard Mode... umm... you need to master the game.
The levels are pretty spectacular. The space colony that provides the setting for this game is a giant cylinder floating in space. The colony is on the inside of the cylinder, so when you look up, you see more of the colony above you. The graphics are impressive as well.
There is a good amount of variety to the levels, too. Most of it involves arena style shooting with objectives like, Kill X, Rescue X, Get to X, Activate X. There are shootouts on trains, in flying vehicles, in hallways, in open areas, etc... And the boss battles are memorable.
What makes this game fun is that you aren't on a linear path. The areas are open, there are tons of enemies, and you figure out the best way to take them all out. You'll battle against robotic grunts, giant walkers, sub bosses, flying enemies with jet packs, flying vehicles, giant enemy mechs, giant transforming enemy mechs... And they are armed with a variety of different weapons. Mostly loud rockets that explode all around you.
When you combine Sam's arsenal with the encounters, the game becomes really fun!
The art direction is great! The enemies and the space colony are thought out to great detail! The characters' faces and animations are also done well. And of course, the explosions and visual effects compliment all of the action.
This game needs to be played loud to be fully enjoyed. The sound track provides an exciting or stealthy atmosphere, depending on what is needed. The explosions and giant mechs sound great. If your neighbors aren't complaining, you're playing it too softly!
Replay Value: 5/10
Ok, so there's no multiplayer mode and that's kind of the kiss of death for a shooter. But Vanquish is meant to be learned and mastered. You should start on Normal Mode, then play again on Hard Mode, then try to tackle God Hard. There are leaderboards, so you can see how you rank. The game should take you about 7 hours to beat on Easy and maybe 13 hours to finish on Hard Mode. But these are FUN hours where you are actively engaged in exciting combat.
I know the game says M, but there's some swearing, and a bit of blood. It's a war game vs. robots, that's about it. There's no sex, no nudity, no graphic violence, no gore... The reason that shooters like this are M rated is because some morons in congress convinced the ESRB that without "head shots" people wouldn't know that shooting someone in the head does more damage than shooting them in the leg. I'm serious. That is the reason. And now you know why Halo is rated M, too.
This is a great game that you can buy cheap. I know Call of Duty and Halo fans can blow through the campaigns and enjoy 200 hours of online fun, and that's great. But if you are looking for a very fun campaign that encourages skill, then this is a must buy.
Buy it if you are a collector of Platinum Games or Clover Studios Games.
Buy it if you are a shooter completionist.
Buy it if you want to spend a week or two blasting enemy mechs.
Rent it if you just want to blow through the campaign in Normal Mode over a weekend.
Avoid it if you need Multiplayer or you don't really like aiming.
Avoid it if you can't get past cheesy dialogue.
If you liked this game, then you've probably already played the Halo series or Gears of War, but you might not know about Space Marine or Lost Planet. Both of those are exciting sci-fi shooters as well. Space Marine has intense battles and Lost Planet has good gameplay. Lost Planet 2 has great Co-Op through Xbox Live.