The lights are on
What new ideas the game brings to the table and how well old ideas are presented.
How good a game looks, taking into account any flaws such as bad collision or pop-up.
Does the game’s music and sound effects get you involved or do they make you resolve to always play with the volume down?
Basically, the controller to human interface. The less you think about the hunk of plastic in your hands, the better the playability.
Flat out, just how fun the game is to play. The most important factor in rating a game.
If Vanquish were a movie instead of a video game, the most appropriate comparison would be Crank.
Like that Jason Statham vehicle, Vanquish moves along at a breakneck
pace, briefly stopping on occasion to offer blink-and-you’ll-miss them
scenes that push along the barest possible skeleton of a plot. While
some of the action is exhilarating, the game’s generic characters and
one-note gameplay keep it from reaching the high standards set by Shinji
Mikami’s other works.
After a brief tutorial, you’re
immediately thrust into a futuristic U.S. vs. Soviet Union conflict.
Long story short: You have crazy battle armor, the Russians have an army
of robots that want to kill you, and a crazy dude wants to blow up New
York City. Cutscenes are brief and don’t do a fantastic job of pushing
the narrative forward, but something tells me that the story wasn’t the
first order of business for Platinum.
You play as Sam Gideon, a
tough-as-nails chain-smoker whose voice resembles a Muppet impersonating
Solid Snake. Outside of that, you don’t learn much about your
protagonist. What he lacks in personality he makes up for with his
Augmented Reaction Suit, which is a fancy way of saying “awesome body
armor that lets you rocket-slide into robots.”
Most of the fun
Vanquish offers is related to this suit’s abilities, whether you’re
rocketing from cover to cover or performing a missile dropkick on a
robotic commie. If a dozen enemies are coming down a staircase towards
you, it’s hard to not feel like a badass when you rocket-slide away from
them in slow motion while throwing a grenade over your shoulder. The
game is at its best when you’re using these abilities during one of the
many giant set piece moments.
However impressive the action is,
the game is a one-trick pony. Boss fights start recycling early on, the
weapons aren’t particularly impressive, and you won’t care about the
story for a second. Outside of a “snipe the spotlights” section and a
ridiculously brief zero-gravity area, most battles are of the “stand
here and survive until the elevator is ready” variety. The game is also
very short. Don’t be surprised if you finish your first playthrough in
four hours or less.
If Vanquish had been fleshed out with better
characters, more variety, and a more substantial campaign, it could have
been great. As is, the awesome suit amounts to little more than a fun
toy in a forgettable world.
Email the author Dan Ryckert, or follow on Twitter, Google+, Facebook, and Game Informer.