Developer(s) – Platinum Games
Publisher(s) – Sega
Director – Shinji Mikami
Producer(s) – Atsushi Inaba, Keith Dwyer & Jun Yoshino
PEGI – 18
Released during the holiday season of 2010 amidst a plethora of many mainstream titles such as Fable III, Fallout: New Vegas, and Gran Turismo 5, Vanquish was a third-person shooter made in the same vein as the likes of Gears of War, Uncharted, and Mass Effect inspired by an anime series called Casshern, according to the game’s director and Resident Evil creator, Shinji Mikami. However, despite the positive reception this game has garnished and become an unsung cult classic of the seventh generation, I found it personally impossible to see the appeal.
Graphics – 6/10
The best thing about the visuals in the game is certainly its conceptual design. Reminiscent of any other anime series aside from Casshern, such as Gundam Wing and even Attack on Titan to a certain extent, there are bullets flying all over the place, futuristic settings and scenery, as well as elaborate armor and highly advanced weapons. However, the game loses points for the fact that compared to many other games at the time, the graphics aren’t anywhere near as technically sound, containing less textural detail than the likes of the two Mass Effect games released prior.
Gameplay – 6/10
The game’s strongest attribute, thankfully, is its incredibly intense and fast-paced gameplay. Playing out very much like a cross between Gears of War and Lost Planet, the objective is to simply destroy everything in sight in a linear path, and bring down towering boss after towering boss whilst racking up as big a score as possible. Despite the many flaws this game has, it’s still quite enjoyable to play. The biggest problem I have with it is the fact that it is indeed so fast-paced leaves room for much else to include, such as side quests and additional secrets to add even more to the overall experience.
Controls – 6/10
Although the game plays out like a typical third-person shooter, there is also the ability to slide around in order to avoid enemy attacks and to move quicker across stages and from place to place in general. The problem is that his feature was a question of trial and error, and is very much unrefined, adding to the frustration that comes with this title. Perhaps if there had been a sequel, this may have been improved on, but it wasn’t to be, however, and to me, it seems very much like a failed experiment as a result.
Lifespan – 3/10
The game also lasts under the average length of a conventional linear third-person shooter, at about 4 hours; 5 at a stretch. I’ve always thought that games in this genre are inherently and painfully short with the exception of the Mass Effect trilogy (a trope still perpetuated to this day, based on reviews of The Order: 1886), but I think a game like Vanquish could have done with a much longer lifespan to make it at least stand out among many of the others, and maybe even be considered superior with the right amount of gameplay content, but it wasn’t to be.
Storyline – 5/10
The story follows DARPA agent Sam Gideon, who is called up to fight for American forces after one of their space stations is invaded by the Russians, who are threatening to destroy New York unless the Americans surrender. Aside from the story not being too well-conceived, the voice acting also leaves a lot to be desired; in lieu of Platinum Games tradition, I personally find. The voice acting in Madworld was tolerable, since not only did it incorporate a strong element of humor and a well-thought-out plot, but in Vanquish, there’s none of this and by that logic, it’s very much irredeemable in my opinion.
Originality – 5/10
To me, the only things that make this title unique are both the fast pacing and intensity of general gameplay and the added sliding ability. Unfortunately, the sliding ability makes this game stand out in the sense that a sore thumb stands out; unsolicited, yet persistent. Although it may have a small portion of artistic merit attached to it through its visuals, this is not Platinum Games’ most unique effort in this respect either; with the likes of Madworld and Bayonetta going far beyond what this game had to offer.
In summation, Vanquish will offer a fair amount of decent gameplay for a few short hours, but unfortunately, that’s all it does the way I see it. There was most definitely room for improvement in almost every other aspect, and while many people may think it is very much underrated, I believe it’s very much overrated.