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PS3 Game Review: Vanquish by Platinum Games

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Looking good, Sam!

Looking good, Sam!

Platinum Games delivers another snappy game by the name of Vanquish. A sci-fi third person shooter featuring a guy with a special suit that lets him rocket around the battle field while granting him some super human qualities. The name of the game is bull rush speed with pin point shots. Can you save the world from the Russians?

Not the most unique take on sci-fi stories, a terrorist group from Russia takes over a satellite and blows San Francisco off the map. The US obviously can’t let that happen without some retaliation so they send in their military along with DARPA, Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, to get the satellite back from the terrorists.

You are Sam Gideon, a researcher in DARPA giving the suit a test run on the field. No real military experience but the suit will just make you that awesome. Throughout the game you’ll be shooting up baddies on a giant space station, led by the nose from point to point by your navigator, Elena Ivanova. You’ll also be accompanied by Lt. Col. Robert Burns, a large huff and gruff military man with a bionic arm. These two will essentially be your “buddies”, and only buddies. You’ll hear dialogue the entire game but the character roster for such interactions are scarce. Missions are also limited in number, 5 Chapters, around 5 missions per but each would barely last 10 minutes.  The learning curve of the game is also rather steep, for a get in get out run and gun game, there are quite a few things you’ll want to learn about your suits abilities and your enemies as well, cause you’ll want to know everything.

Presentation

Menu’s are minimalistic, you won’t be sorting through these often unless you want to know the stats of your weapons, upgrades, and general info about the background of the story and it’s characters. You can easily get by without entering these menu’s even once cause all the action has been streamlined right on the field.

Graphics

Game looks great. Game looks a little muddy when compared to the likes of Castlevania LoS, a game that was 720p as well, but this game also runs hell of a lot smoother. Important factors considering you are always under heavy fire. While enemy designs are as wild as they come, something you can expect from Platinum Games, Sam’s suit steals the show. It’s complex, sleek, and colorful, while your gun flips into different weapon setups transformer style. Explosions blur the screen, really adding to that “umph”. Environments, despite all being space station warfare, gives you a lot to see and behold such as skyline views of the colony, underground tunnels, even a large scale park akin to a forest. The game pulls all the stops to give you that sense of scale, you will be constantly outsized by your enemies, and even more so by the space station itself.

Gameplay

No matter what the game has been, the focus has always been game play, and Vanquish delivers. At it’s core this game utilizes the cover system you’ve seen from gears of war, you can duck under cover behind walls and boxes that are all over the station. Your suit brings its own tricks, such as the ability to rocket boost on your knees to  quickly get from cover to cover while keeping your head down. You can also use energy from your suit to slow down time in order to give you an edge over the baddies. This way you can line up shots for fast moving enemies, pop head shots while jumping over your cover, or even to gun down a small platoon of robots while rocket boosting, it’s that awesome.  Keep in mind though, you have a failsafe that runs on the same juice as your rocket boost and slow time feature, so if you don’t use your abilities wisely, you’ll find yourself dead even faster. While the slow time feature lets you dodge bullets matrix style (yes, it’s as awesome as it sounds) if you still have a energy meter left, your suit kicks into this mode when you are dangerously low on health as well, giving you some time to head to cover until your energy runs out, forcing your suit to cool off it’s over heat. If you are already over heating when getting shot up, you’re screwed.

Your gun also has some interesting quirks. It can transform up to three different gun types at a time, to change these guns you will need to swap them for weapons you find on the field. These can be upgraded by picking up duplicates, after three duplicates, that respective weapon will be upgraded a level. You have your usual military arsenal such as assault rifles and snipers, but you also have some unique ones such as a laser bow that fires beams upwards then downwards, letting you clear a room of enemies even while they are behind cover, it’s a little weak though and ammo is hard to find. There will be decisions you have to make while picking up these weapons. Do you want to upgrade? Do you want to stick with a weapon you can find plenty of ammo of? Maybe there is enemy you have trouble with that only a certain weapon can make quick work of? These are the kinds of decisions you can make both in and out of battle, and when it’s in battle, you might have to do it while running from a crazed up transforming scorpion, or two of them…

Game is hard, I only played it on normal but it kicked my butt thoroughly. Another thing I’ve come to expect from Platinum Games, they always keep you on your toes. While there is a definite progression in difficulty, it happens really quickly. It’s not cool when after killing a freaky drill monster as a boss, you fight both of them as regular enemies just a few missions later. There is no level up system or shop so by the time you find these guys, you can only pray you have the right weapon pickups on you. I appreciate high difficulty in a game like this, but it can get a bit much, definitely not for the faint of heart.

Sound

The voice actors are a little on the hammy side, nothing really stands out as great, just not terrible. Robert Burns always sounds forced though, it’s hard to get over when his voice isn’t even consistent throughout, sometimes it’s a little too high, sometimes it’s a little too low. Other than that, the explosions go off to great effect, nothing really that noteworthy though. BGM’s are nice, always upbeat and never dull, just doesn’t really standout as anything bad or good.

Replayability

There are leader boards for you to compete on, you can try to increase your score and time on each mission using mission select mode, and multiple difficulties going up to “God Hard” can keep you busy. Once you’ve learned the ropes you will find yourself trying to perfect your technique on your robot slaughter.

Conclusion

If you are even remotely a fan of run and gun games like Gears of War, Halo, or even action games in general, you’ll find a lot to like in Vanquish. Game is never short on things to shoot, snappy decisions to keep things interesting, and a difficulty that’s nothing short of brutal, unless you play easy then… well, you’re a pansy. This is not for the casual gamer due to the ramp ups in difficulty. For the rest of us? You need to at least give it a try. Game is on the short side with just 5 missions, but it’s a roller coaster from beginning to end.

This review is based on my play through on normal mode, weapon DLC bought after completion of game.

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Written by vigorot

March 2, 2011 at 4:27 pm

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