Oh, baby. If you like action games that never let up and blow you away with style and panache, then you have the game of your dreams here in Vanquish. It was directed by the creator of the Resident Evil series, Shinji Mikami. Itís almost funny if you compare this game with Mr. Mikamiís first Resident Evil which was as stiff as Gorilla Glue. In that game, youíd be lucky enough to escape a zombie without bumping into walls every five seconds. But in this game, youíre flying all over the place and killing robots.
The storyline isn't as intense. It suffers from the same hackneyed video game tropes that have hampered the genre for decades now. The storyís about a rapidly expanding global population that causes certain nations to push outwards into space to make room for the people down on Earth. Sounds interesting, right? And it is. But herein lies the problem: the main enemy of the game is some nihilistic Russian leader, who leads a group called the ďOrder of the Russian Star.Ē He basically has no emotions whatsoever and has this glazed over video game look that just pulls you right out of the storyline just by looking at him. He uses this weapon that wipes out half of San Francisco, and itís just not believable at all. Why is this story even in the game? Iím all about a compelling narrative and whatnot, but when the gameplay is going to take center stage here (Which it really does, more on that in a moment), then why come up with such an elaborate storyline thatís not even going to deliver on the goods? Why not just have the President (who looks like Hillary Clinton, by the way) get kidnapped by ninjas, or something? Why go through all the trouble of boring the audience with a story that they couldnít care less about?
The action, however, is amazing. You take on the role of Sam Gideon, who has a super suit that can pretty much blow the hell out of anything. Not since I first controlled Kratos in the first God of War did I feel so powerful with a video game character. Sam can switch weapons on the fly, slide on his knees at hyper speed, and even topple enormous mechs by leaping up and punching them in the face. Seriously, could this gamebe any more exciting? On your journey, which is like one really long mission, you head into enemy fire with guns a-blazing. Youíre constantly ducking and taking cover so your suit can regenerate itself, as it tends to overheat with all the action thatís going on. The cover system doesnít slow the action down, though; enemies will quickly blow up whatever cover youíre hiding behind so you need to keep moving.
Whatís interesting about this overheating system is that you can actually push your suit to the limit by performing cool attacks like melee strikes or the slow-motion ďbullet timeĒ effects. These actions donít only look cool, but they actually give you an edge over the enemy. At the same time, the game somewhat punishes you for using these attacks because youíre more vulnerable afterwards from enemy fire. This makes for a lot of sweat inducing, panicky moments where youíre looking for the nearest safe spot to hide behind while your suit replenishes itself. All the while, some other troops are still shooting at whateverís out there shooting at you, so it puts you in the moment of being in the midst of a full-scale battle. It really pulls you in.
The controls took a little while for me to get the hang of but after awhile, they just start to make sense and your hands do all the work for you. As with Platinum Gamesí previous release Bayonetta, there is a casual setting for players with more clumsy fingers. In this case, casual mode gives you auto aim. Casual or not, in no time youíll be easily busting out awesome moves and taking out robots. Youíll kill lots of robots, by the way. The missions themselves offered enough variety to compensate.
The pacing never lets up. Every time you topple some giant robot or control some speeding hovercraft, youíre confronted with more enemies nearly seconds afterwards, so the game really never lets up. Mikamiís Resident Evil games were slowed down by puzzles and escort missions but Vanquish doesnít have that problem. I commend Platinum Games for not putting any puzzles in the game and sticking with straight-up action as it really gets the olí heart pumping. That being said, the lack of puzzles or other breaks in action makes the game a little short. I beat it in only seven hours. And Iíve heard reports of it beaten in even shorter playtimes. Thatís okay with me, though, because the shorter (And tighter) the gameplay is, the better.
Overall, I love this game. Itís fast, itís frenetic, and itís fun as all hell. Sure, itís kind of short, and sure, the delivery of the storyline could have been much better, but as a whole, the game blows you out of the water with its awesomeness. If you like action games and feel that you havenít played a good one in a long time, then Vanquish is the game for you. Youíre going to have one hell of a ride.
Platform(s): PS3, Xbox 360 (reviewed)
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