Are you bored of always walking everywhere? Well, in Vanquish walking is a thing of the past! I introduce to you the ARS, or Augmented Reaction Suit which allows you to get from A to B by shoving a powerful booster up your arse. Okay, it’s on your legs but without a doubt the single feature of Vanquish which sets it apart from the mountain of third person shooters out there is this and that is why I love Vanquish and also why you will love Vanquish too.
Set sometime in the future, the Russians have declared war against America and used a bio weapon to destroy San Francisco. Of course, in true American style they won’t stand for this and although Russia threatens to annihilate America if they don’t fully surrender, America has one last ace up their sleeve in the form of Sam Gideon. Sam is DARPA agent who has been sent to an American space colony that the Russians have taken control of in order to fire nuclear weapons on earth. Equipped with his suit, which not only allows him to reach super speeds but can also take a lot of damage, and a new prototype weapon called BLADE, a hi-tech scanning device which remembers the last three weapons Sam has encountered, transforming into said weapons when Sam requires their use, he must assist the US Military and try and complete his mission to save America. Throughout there are a few nice twists and plenty of conspiracies that keep you glued, wanting to know how it ends.
Although the game feels like most third person shooters out there control wise, it is the ARS and the ability to slow down time that really make Vanquish stand out from the crowd. When using either of these skills, you need to be careful not to overheat the suit and a bar in the bottom right of the screen informs you of the current status of the suit’s temperature. If you don’t stop using the special abilities at this point, you will need to wait for it to cool down before you're able to use them again. When you are taking a lot of damage, the bullet time effect automatically triggers, and if you are on the verge of death, it allows you to quickly take out your opponents or get to cover. The BLADE system that governs your armoury also allows you to upgrade each weapon, improving things like fire rate, damage and capacity. You can upgrade a weapon in one of two ways; the first is by simply finding an upgrade chip that occasionally drops off enemies and the other is to try and refill your ammo when your weapon is full. The only frustrating thing about Vanquish is the game sells itself as a run in all guns blazing style of game, but in fact on some of the harder difficulties you will find yourself taking cover more often and it takes a little bit away from the game play.
One of the things a lot of people have complained about with Vanquish is just how short the game is. I completed the whole game in one sitting and it took around ten hours, but at the end I wasn’t disappointed at all. Vanquish is definitely one of those short but sweet games and once you complete the game for the first time you will unlock the godhard mode which is, well, hard. It will also unlock some challenges which are equally as difficult. Thanks to these extra modes and the awesomeness of the ARS, I can safely say I will be playing Vanquish through a few more times. Another feature that is missing but actually makes me happy is a multiplayer. Most games these days tend to throw in an online mode just for the hell of it and I’m glad Platinum Games didn’t follow this trend as the game easily has enough legs to stand on with just the single player story.
Presentation is excellent and considering there is so much going on, with bullets being fired left, right and centre, explosions from frag, EMP grenades and huge laser beams trying to turn you into dust, the game keeps up perfectly; I didn’t notice any slowdown at all. When the bullet time is activated you can see any missiles or grenades that are incoming and if timed correctly, you can shoot them to blow-up your enemies. The Russian robots look amazing and some of the bigger foes will begin as bosses - later find yourself fighting multiples of these mechanical mammoths at once.
Vanquish easily takes place as one of my top games of 2010 but then I do love my shooters. For anyone who enjoys running around carefree and blowing robots to bits, this is the perfect game for you and if not then surely you want to slide on your arse all day, right? If not you can call yourself very weird…or is that me?