Late 2 The Game – Vanquish

posted by Andrew Cross

To go from Portal 2 to Vanquish is a jarring experience. I would say it’s like driving around a pristine racetrack in a Lamborghini when suddenly a barrier blows up in front of you, and you’re forced to punch the speed up to 170 MPH and race onto a rocky cliff face. What I’m getting at with this analogy is that Vanquish is one of the most fast-paced third-person shooters I’ve played. It leaves most games in the dust when it comes to pace and rarely gives you time to catch your breath. It’s a thrilling game, but it’s not all together great, which is something I find especially frustrating about it. It’s got the pedigree of a great designer behind it (Shinji Mikami of Resident Evil 4), but there are these nagging little issues that keep it from being a total success.

Platinum Games has created a game that leaves every other third-person shooter in the dust. Vanquish takes place in the near future in which the USA is broke and Russia is raining down EMP blasts on major cities. You play as Sam Gideon, former football star and now wearer of DARPA’s Augmented Reaction Suit (ARS). It’s through this suit that Vanquish’s stellar gameplay is utilized. The suit has jets built into the back and thighs, which allow Sam to slide around at high speeds from one location to another. This ability can be used offensively and defensively. Slide in close to surprise enemies and pour on bullets, or keep your distance by moving quickly from cover to cover. The ARS also has the Augmented Reality Mode (AR Mode) which slows time, giving you a few moments to target enemies easier and pick them off. Combine this with the rocket slide and the results from getting in close, slowing time, blasting baddies, and then hightailing it to cover is a satisfying experience. You can’t overdo it though, as you have one power bar for both. Use it up and the suit over heats, causing you to lose mobility for a few seconds. Also, the tougher enemies you encounter are constantly moving and can destroy your cover. This all adds up to Vanquish having an almost perfect balance of fast-paced shooting and tactical re-positioning.

Even though the gameplay bucks trends in the action genre, there are things about Vanquish that leave me feeling empty. I find it difficult to put my finger on why. The action is polished and fun, but I ended up getting bored over the course of the six-hour game. (That is not a typo. It’s really that short.) The level design isn’t anything new, although some areas occasionally have inspired moments. It’s more that the color scheme and level design pallet are boring. Vanquish has a steroid-injected Star Trek-spliced-with-Blade Runner look. Colors range from gun metal gray to insane asylum white. It’s not very appealing and can induce sleep from over-exposure. The enemy robot types vary, but their designs are dull. They look like big clumps of spiky metal with red eyeballs and guns. Finally, I appreciate how the story doesn’t try to be anything more than it is (space Marines vs. robot Russians), but listening to soldiers who talk like they gargle whiskey can get tiresome.

Vanquish is probably the best game you can rent right now. It’s short, sweet, and you’ll dig its take on the stop-&-pop genre. You just won’t want to keep it.

Developed by: Platinum Games
For: PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360.

Friday, May 20th, 2011 at 8:00 am