Thursday, 3 February 2011

Vanquish review.

Well, it's been out for a while, so better late than never. I'm sure there's still a few of you that haven't picked this up yet.

Released in October last year, Vanquish is a stylish 3rd person shooter developed by Shinji Mikami, previously of Resident Evil fame and his company Platinum games.

Pre release videos and images drew comparisons with Gears of War, what with it being 3rd person and having a cover system, but with typical Japanese characters stylings and a trillion things happening on screen at once. But the important it any good? Let's go and have a bloody good look then.

The story:

It's a bit of a garbled mess, but in a cool way. Set at some point in the future, mankind has over populated the Earth. The US has made some huge space station to collect solar energy, but those sneaky Russians, led be a Psycho Mantis from Metal Gear look-a-like, overtakes control of the satellite, blows San Francisco off the face of the planet and threatens that the US should step down, otherwise New York is left. A group is formed to take on the Red menace, led by big, burly and bearded man mountain Colonel Robert Burns and aided with a tonne of cannon fodder and a lone soldier with an experimental battle-suit, Chain smoking Sam Gideon. Taking the role of Sam, you have to blow your way through the robotic menace and destroy the space station.

What I liked:

Basically.....everything. The team at Platinum Games have created a title that is effortlessly cool. And I do mean cool. You could use this game to chill your beer! Taking control of Sam, you can play several different ways. Controls are standard fare, right trigger to fire, left trigger to aim. You duck into cover with X, grenade with Yand select a choice of up to four weapon types with the d-pad etc etc. right bumper is for reload, and left is to activate your suit power, which is almost like a sprint, except you slide around on your knees in the style of an amputee with rockets on your stumps! While out of cover, hitting X sees you perform dodge-style rolls, and when combining this with the aim trigger the world enters a slo-mo bullet time type thing where you can slowly pick apart groups of enemies, or in more extreme cases shoot actual missiles out of the sky! It takes a while to master, but once it clicks instead of just simply shooting an enemy until it goes dead, you'll slide into cover, leap over it, click slo-mo, kill a legion of troops, land into more cover and light up a's like Gear of War ballet edition. Some levels are outstanding, memorable fights include a high speed monorail chase that flips around like fighting on a rollercoaster, a huge walking robotic spider that once you think you have beaten it transforms into a giant walking Iron giant, and a fight in zero gravity. Your transforming gun is a great addition, and there are varieties of weapons to pick up, from usual assault rifles and rocket launchers to disc launching rifles and lock on multiple lasers. Sound effects are awesome, the soundtrack is great, and the character voices are some of the most funny i've ever hear in a marks go to Colonel Burns, who can't say a simple phrase without shouting it as loud and gruff as possible....think Brian Blessed smoking 40 Marlboro a day and you're about there. He's also responsible for one of the greatest lines in video game history....."Thank god i'm an Athiest!".

What I loathed:

Hardly anything. If I had to say anything bad about it i'd be lying. The only thing I could maybe mark it down on is more of a fault with me than the game. It's slight confusing at first, getting used to dodging enemy attacks to enter bullet time, or getting used to activating it manually. Finding enemy attack patterns takes a while too, but once you have them you'll be cutting down the enemies in no time. It can be a bit busy, and at certain times it can be tough when you have 30 bad guys, giant robots and 3 lumbering huge beasts to try and take down all at once, and one friend who watched me play through a couple of sections actually felt sick from how busy the screen was......but then again he is a pussy.

The verdict?

Vanquish is a fantastic game. I haven't actually sat with a game in a long time that I enjoyed every single aspect of, from the controls to the characters and some fantastic levels. It's effortlessly cool, it looks great and I sat there smiling every single time I picked up the pad to play. You can pick it up for under £20, and as far as i'm concerned it's one of the best games of last year. Or this year if you bought it late like me.....

Rating: 9/10

(Xbox 360 version reviewed. Also available on PS3)

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