I have been waiting to play Vanquish ever since I saw the trailer for it online. I downloaded the demo and decided that I had to have the game. Ever since we got it in here at the office I have been playing it nonstop. I finally broke away from the screen to write up a review for Sega’s Vanquish, so here is that review.
The game takes place in the near future where the planet’s human population has grown so rapidly that nations of people around the globe are fighting for the scarce available resources. The US has attempted to alleviate its own energy problems by launching a space station harboring a solar energy-driven generator to provide them with an alternative source of fuel from the sun. However, the government of the Russian Federation on Earth has been overthrown by ultra-nationalist forces calling themselves the Order of the Russian Star.
Russian forces capture this space station and divert its harvested solar energy into a blast wave that destroys San Francisco, aiming to force the US into a total and unconditional surrender. The main antagonist, known as Victor Zaitsev, demands that the American government surrender or he will choose New York City as his next target.
The President of America, Elizabeth Winters, refuses to back down in the face of terrorism. She takes Lieutenant-Colonel Robert Burns, a decorated war veteran, and puts him in charge of a newly-commissioned task force called Bravo Company. This team consists of several space-faring special forces, veteran Marines, and the remnants of the defending US forces on board the space station. On top of that, she also gives them the game’s protagonist and playable character, Sam Gideon.
Sam is in the testing phases of a newly-developed battle suit called the Augmented Reaction Suit, or ARS for short. Sam is an operative of a government agency called the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, or DARPA. He is armed with an experimental weapon system called BLADE, which is capable of scanning any existing weapon and then transforming into a perfect replica of that weapon. Its ability to store three scans at a time means that at any given time the BLADE can shapeshift between three completely different guns. This is a really cool mechanic, because the game really makes use of the ability to switch between weapons on the fly.
Once the Russians use the cannon to destroy San Francisco, Sam joins Burns in an effort to bring the outlaws to justice. Then the real fight begins.
The gameplay in Vanquish functions pretty much like your run-of-the-mill third-person shooter. Players control Sam, and make use of his special suit to take down enemy Russian robots, called RIs. Sam has a lot of cool features at his disposal, thanks to the suit.
With the functionality of the BLADE system, Sam can keep up to three weapons, excluding grenades, on his person. The weapons literally materialize in his hands at the press of a button. Players can switch between weaponry by pressing the directions on the D-pad.
Sam’s ARS is also equipped with rocket boosters on his legs which allow him to Speed Boost (or what looks to me like a rockin’ powerslide) past, into, or around enemies. This ability comes in handy when trying to revive a downed team mate, get out of enemy territory, or flanking enemies. Plus, it’s really fun to do.
Along with the unique BLADE system, every time Sam picks up a copy of the weapon he has equipped, the system scans it again, refilling the ammo and setting the weapon up a grade. Once a weapon hits a certain grade it levels up. This is especially neat, because when a weapon levels up it gains an ability, such as +20% ammo capacity, +80% clip capacity, and much more.
Once Sam takes enough damage, he will go into what is called Augmented Reaction mode, in which everything slows down as the suit drastically speeds up Sam’s reaction time. This is extremely useful because it allows time to take out waves of enemies, get to cover, and reload before enemies can get the drop on you. After AR mode runs out, though, the suit will need to cool down. It doesn’t take long for the suit to get out of its overheat mode, and then you can jump right back into the action.
You can manually trigger AR mode as well, which comes in handy with boss battles, or when defeating large numbers of enemies. Once AR mode is over with, let the suit cool down and then get right back at the action.
Also, the boss battles in the game are super action-packed. Some battles have you mashing a certain button to punch a robot’s head off, and others have you twisting the analog sticks to dodge huge bullets, to send them flying back at the enemy. This adds a lot of fun and variety to the gameplay, which keeps players interested and consumed within the game.
The controls in Vanquish are very fluid, and extremely easy to catch on to. The missions are a bit repetitive, but the gameplay is so fun that it didn’t matter too much to me. I enjoyed running and gunning down enemy robots for hours. The one major drawback that I did find was that since there is always so much going on, what with tons of enemies everywhere, I found myself dying over and over again from what seemed to me like it was out of nowhere. I will be focused on an enemy, something will explode next to me, then death. I will be running down a map to get to cover, no one will be around, and all of a sudden there is a big explosion and I die. There will be so many enemies on screen that I couldn’t focus on enough of them at a time, and all of a sudden a huge robot comes out of nowhere, shoots a huge bullet right at me, I enter AR mode, try to get out of its way, then I die by one of the other thousands of enemies on screen.
The AR mode helps with that, but unfortunately there just seems to be too many enemies to handle sometimes. As long as you use the cover that is provided, you can get through it, but it’s still difficult.
All in all I really enjoyed this game. It was definitely worth the wait, and I think Sega outdid themselves with this one. I know a lot of players are complaining because the storyline wasn’t as deep as it could have been, and I agree, but the gameplay makes up for that. I still haven’t fully completed the game and I have been playing for over five hours. For an action game that is pretty solid. I thoroughly enjoyed Vanquish, and I think that you should go pick it up, and give it a try.
Besides, punching the heads off of giant robots is always fun, right?