System: Xbox 360
Developer: Platinum Games
Release Date: October 19, 2010
Imagine Gears of War on crystal meth.
Vanquish is intense. Really intense. This game just oozes testosterone. There are muscleheaded freaks, massive explosions, big guns and huge robots. Hell, there’s a button to smoke a cigarette. Best of all, there is never a dull moment.
You play as one of the aforementioned ‘roid abusers named Sam Gideon, a highly-skilled soldier with cutting-edge armor. After Russia — go figure — bombs the hell out of San Francisco, Gideon and several special forces are sent to fight the Commie bastards and save the good ol’ U S of A. Obviously, this is pretty basic stuff and it’s been done a million times before, but Vanquish is a type of game that is not played for its story. Come for the firefights, stay for the explosions.
As a third person shooter, Vanquish throws you right into combat and doesn’t let up until your mission is complete. The combat mechanics are what you would expect – cover, shoot, lob a grenade, repeat. However, as a unique DARPA soldier, Gideon has access to some pretty cool features. For one, he can slide ridiculously fast. This is perfect for maneuvering around large open areas, particularly during the frequent, massive boss fights. Sam is also able to slow down time for brief periods, which allows him to dodge bullets and get in some rapid fire shots on enemies. This feature is automatically triggered when Sam is low on health, and this is an excellent way to buy some time while he gets back to full strength. Gideon also has access to an impressive array of weapons, all of which can be upgraded along the way. It doesn’t get much better than throwing an EMP grenade to disable the enemy and then zooming in with a rocket launcher to blow them away.
It’s difficult not to get swept up in the frenetic pace that Vanquish thrives in. There is one problem with this, however: the good times end far too soon. I completed the game on Normal (which was still a good challenge) in about 5 1/2 hours. After completing the campaign, there isn’t much else to do. Sure, you could go through it again on a higher difficulty, but it’s all single player or bust. There is no co-op option, and online play is nowhere to be found. It’s really a shame that these features were excluded. Vanquish would be perfect for co-op, as it would be a blast to share this high-octane experience with a buddy. It’s almost inexcusable that there are no multiplayer options at all.
In essence, Vanquish is a quick shot of adrenaline that serves its purpose for the campaign’s 5-6 hour length. It is a gorgeous game with lots of pyro eye candy, and its fast pacing pulls no punches. A little more depth could have went a long way in this game, but it’s still a lot of fun for what it is. However, unless you are dedicated to multiple playthroughs to obtain maximum value, Vanquish may be best suited for a weekend rental.