Vanquish is a Japanese take on the ubiquitous Western-style third person shooter. You are a space marine tasked with disrupting the world-dominating ambitions of a new Russian superpower. As Sam Gideon, you will obliterate robot armies while calmly smoking a cigarette. A typical battle might unfold after Sam takes a few drags, then flicks the butt away with a smirk. As the smoldering butt flips end over end, you see that the heat draws the focus of the robot contingent pinning you down. In a decisive moment, while your foes are distracted, you slow time to a crawl, vault from cover, and unload heavy fire into your steely-eyed nemeses.
Vanquish doesn’t like to spell out or prescribe how it should be played. This lack of handholding can be a boon to creative players, though can hamper inexperienced action gamers. Playing the game on normal, easy, or “easy-automatic” difficulties is recommended for most gamers, as the challenge escalates gently. There are deep mechanics here for those who want master Vanquish’s systems—weapons perform and alter gameplay dramatically, and, on higher difficulties, counting invincibility frames in animations (like the most demanding of fighting games) is nearly essential. There are many ways to play Vanquish depending on your preference for cover, assault, sniping, or flashy lunacy.Vanquish is an empowering game, and its keen direction creates sensational moments.But to think Vanquish must be played like Gears of War is a mistake. Sure, you can cower behind waist-high cover (and amusingly, ankle-high cover as well), but to play in such a conservative style is to miss the point entirely. You are an offensive machine, able to slow and speed time to your favor. You should bring the hurt to your enemies. Vanquish is an empowering game, and its keen direction creates sensational moments.
The audio and visuals in Vanquish are still top-notch today. Character and enemy models are intricately detailed and brim with lively animations and personality. Set pieces are too good to spoil, and chaotic battles consistently bring splendid lighting and jaw-dropping particle effects. Also, as a pleasant surprise, the audio options include both Japanese and English voice tracks.
Vanquish further cements Platinum Games’ premiere status as the action game developers de jure, and perfectly fits and fills their oeuvre. It’s a thrilling time as a gamer seeing such a vivacious game developer like Platinum Games continuously create and experiment with different generations of videogame hardware. Platinum is currently working on the Wii U exclusives Bayonetta 2 and The Wonderful 101, both of which look very slick and fun. One can only imagine what delights Platinum has in store for Playstation 4 and the next Xbox. For one of this generation’s greatest underdogs, look no further than Vanquish.