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Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Vanquish XBox 360 Review

I'm not going to lie, I'm not a fan of the TPS genre, nor am I a fan of the FPS genre for that matter. However, something always seems to draw me in when it has a Sci-Fi twist. For example, I don't like Call of Duty, but I really enjoy Halo. I'm not a fan Gears of War, but I went through the trouble to purchase and play Vanquish. Perhaps it's the cool looking high tech space suit over a poorly designed meathead with a bandanna, or maybe it's because Shinji Mikami is one of my favorite's in the gaming universe, or perhaps even the fact that Gears of Wars story takes itself too seriously, where as Vanquish is about fun and being ridiculous, which reminds me of 80's action movies (my favorite movie genre). Maybe a mixture of all that put together.

Enter Vanquish, a game that takes the TPS genre and flips it on its head with craziness. You are Sam Gideon, a special DARPA agent in control of the Augmented Reaction Suit (known as ARS in game). San Francisco is destroyed by turning one of America's space colony's into a weapon of mass destruction. Russian Terrorists calling themselves the Russian Star are to blame for this despicable act. Sam is sent with a crew of Marine's to find the one responsible and take him down. Since I'm on the subject, I really enjoyed the storyline to this game. Maybe it's my love for cheese-tastic stories and cliche characters, but again, it's a personal preference, it's not for everyone. This is coming from the guy who loves the story to Ninja Gaiden II for Xbox 360. There's some obvious plot twists and what have you through out the story, but it's all good stuff, I enjoyed it immensely.

Now onto the meat of the package, the gameplay. Sam's AR Suit is equipped with some neat abilities. One of the best of them being his ability to boost around the battlefield with thrusters that are attached to certain spots of his suit. This keeps the frantic and fast gameplay intact as you run from enemy's to safer cover, or run in for a melee kill when the opportunity presents itself. Speaking of melee, that's another interesting feature in the game. Instead of swatting at the robot forces with your gun, Sam decides it's more effective to just give them a mean right hook and call it a day. I respect a man who punches a robot in the face, it shows character. This does have its drawbacks however, after you rock the jaw piece of an enemy, your suit will overheat, forcing you to take some cover and wait for the power to come back to the suit. I tended to use my melee attack in 1 on 1 situations, or if an enemy got to close to me. If you try to fly in, kill a foe, and then fly out, well you have another thing coming to you.

Aside from that, there are a variety of different weapons you can pick up as you go about your mission. Though I normally kept my assault rifle handy, I always experimented with other weapons when possible, and it proves quite useful. Sure, you can get through the entire game just using an assault rifle, but it's much more rewarding when you knock back a giant mech into a pit with your LFE gun, or dismember a giant mech with the Disk Cutter then give him a nice swift speed boosted kick across the map. The game rewards you for trying out different weapons, but in the end, you can get through the entire game with the assault rifle, though I wouldn't recommend it as it would really kill the fun of the experience and the versatile weaponry.

On top of all this, there's also the AR mode, which is basically a super slow motion effect that helps you aim. Sure, this has been done all before, but I can't help mentioning it considering it's one of the suit's most useful abilities. It really helps you line up those head shots, or go for weak points (which it also points out when you are in the AR mode).

The gameplay is frantic, rewarding, and just down right fun. It can be repetitive if you want it to be, but for those looking to go into Vanquish and take all it has to offer, you'll be often changing your weapons and tactics and finding out different ways to take out your foes.

Not only is the gameplay great, but so are the graphics. Gone are the boring greys and browns that plague just about every single shooting game on the market, if not all of them. This game is full to the brim with whites, silvers, greens, and the occasional blue and red. Heck, there's even a forest level. That's right, with trees! If only the trunks of said trees weren't brown, then there wouldn't have been any brown in this game at all. On top of the amazing visuals, there is also the fluid animation and excellent designs of enemy's and characters. Well, except for Lt. Col. Burns, he looks kind of stupid... but in a funny way that someone who can appreciate cheesy designs (like me) can enjoy. Also considering how quick the gameplay is, I never saw any slowdown.

And now that we got all the good things out of the way, let's talk about a couple of bad things. The music, for example. It works for the game, but nothing really stands out to me (except the music in the credits, that was cool). It's all a bunch of uninspired techno crap. Now, techno does fit the feel and look of the game, but it definitely could have been better. Techno can be pretty cool when done right. It wasn't done right here! The music didn't really get me into it, and for the most part I usually phased it out of my head, especially when I started hearing the same tracks over and over again. As always, I have to say that it's a shame that a lot of games just seem to overlook the musical aspect of it, since it's one of the most important parts of the package (to me, at least). That's about it for the bad.

The voice acting is actually decent. Thankfully, there isn't any repeated dialogue that begins to drive you nuts like a few games I've reviewed in recent memory. All the voices work, and they don't talk much in the game, and thankfully the enemies are robots, so aside from a few beeps and boops, there's rarely any shouting and screaming during combat, and if there is, it's hardly audible (like the marine's that constantly refer to the robots as a being that partakes in a heinous act with someone's mother, but that always makes me laugh anyway).

Last, but not least, the replay factor. The game's single player campaign, on my first run, not specifically rushing through the game, on hard mode, took me about 6 and a half hours. Perhaps that sounds like a bad thing, but in my opinion it's not. It welcomes you to play the game again, beat your high score, and go for a better time. It's very old school in that sense, and I think it was deliberately built to be this way. I love quick games like this, because I can sit down and play them over and over again without having to worry about committing myself to it. Like a Mega Man game, I can sit down and beat it in an hour. I'm sure I'll get this game down to 2 or 3 hours eventually, allowing it to happily be played again because of the fact that it's short, and it's competitive nature with scores, speed running, and leader boards will always have me returning to it. On top of that, there is Challenge Mode, which is basically a survival mode where you have to kill all the enemies in a small arena, and then you get a time after you complete it. If you're into this sort of thing, you'll certainly be going back to beat your time's (or someone else's for that matter). This game is just oozing with replay value, for a person who is into this sort of thing. If you're not into playing your games again, well, it's still one hell of a ride regardless.

Vanquish is a fast, versatile, and stylistic third person shooter that not only accelerates in the war department as its slogan states, but also accelerates its own genre in quality and sheer enjoyment. What I'm trying to say is, it 'vanquishes' the competition. See what I did there?


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