(Reviewed on Xbox One by Games of DAYNE)
*Disclaimer: This review was originally written as a member for One More Game and Xbox Gamer Dad, edited by co-founder Adam Potts and/or founder Matt Brook. A review code for this title was provided by OMG/XBGD. This review was written from my perspective with editor input. Click HERE to read this review as originally published on onemoregame.com.au*
A decade after it’s initial release, Vanquish has firmly established itself as a dark horse of a hit, underrated and under the radar of many. With a complete technical overhaul and enhanced visuals, Vanquish is back and ready to take new and returning players on an adrenaline fueled ride.
Vanquish is a fast-paced shooter that is just as stylish as it is intense and engaging. Like the rest of the 5-6 hour campaign, the intro wastes no time putting players through a brief tutorial before throwing them right into the break neck, unrelenting pace of the combat in this single player, campaign only experience.
SC-01 Providence is a space colony launched by the United States in an effort to provide alternative energy sources to cater for the demands caused by the overpopulation of Earth using a solar energy microwave transmitter. A rogue sect of the Russian military, known as the Order of the Russian Star, have overthrown their government, infiltrated and captured Providence and weaponised the transmitter to obliterate San Francisco. Led by Victor Zaitsev, the Order of the Russian Star demand the US government surrender or New York City will be destroyed next.
Lieutenant Colonel Robert Burns is sent with his Bravo company by the President of the United States to regain control of Providence, along with Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) soldier Sam Gideon, the protagonist. Armed with a prototype Augmented Reaction Suit (ARS), a state of the art military exo suit capable of jet-fueled power slides, acrobatic evade manoeuvres and the ability to slow time, the combat moves at a pace unlike any other third person shooter to date, a statement that holds true nearly ten years after its initial release.
If the player takes too much damage the suit automatically enters Augmented Reality (AR) mode, which slows time temporarily and allows for Sam to take cover behind walls and barricades look or to take advantage of his enemies with his newfound reflexes. This AR mode can be manually triggered too but requires an energy bar to be refilled over time before it can be used again. Utilising the boosters to power slide too often will also cause the suit overheat, requiring an additional cool-down before use.
Equipped with an experimental Battlefield Logic Adaptable Electronic Weapon System (BLADE), Sam is able to scan new weapons that the suit can then transform into as an extension of itself. Capable of switching between three scanned weapons at a time, this negates the need for an inventory system and instead allows for simple navigation by using the D-Pad. This approach lends well to the fast paced dynamic of the gameplay and switching weapons on the fly allows for appropriate reaction when dealing with the more specialised and larger enemy variety that accompany the lower level grunt infantry. Boss battles bring even larger enemies into the fold, each with numerous weak spots to exploit before being able to defeat them. These battles are fun and add a manageable challenge to an otherwise run and gun affair. Enemy design is pretty impressive and they each have their own tactics to observe and counteract.
A pleasant surprise to the campaign is that there are no loading screens. Seamlessly weaving between gameplay and cinematics, the only time a load screen is encountered is upon death, and even then it was only taking less than 2 seconds when played on an Xbox One X. This is an amazing feature that should be incorporated into more titles where possible but it certainly feels fitting given the high octane speed of Vanquish, the thought of having a load screen in between the action would actually kill a lot of the momentum it manages to build.
Armed with sarcastic wit and roguish charm, Sam’s personality manages to draw some differing interactions from the supporting cast that often results in some amusing banter, particularly with Burns. Surprisingly, Sam’s character is the only one to receive much meaningful attention throughout the narrative that is otherwise bogged down by some very corny dialogue and a fairly predictable plot that fails to really accomplish anything.
Luckily, the gameplay is focused enough to keep Vanquish on course and deliver an overall fun, unique and exciting experience. Celebrating its tenth birthday early, ahead of its actual October anniversary, Vanquish has benefitted immensely from the visual, performance and technical enhancements of this Anniversary Edition release, looking and playing like a game of todays standards. The electronic heavy soundtrack fits perfectly within the tone and style of the game, the tempo appropriately reflecting the world it inhabits. Vanquish was an absolute joy to return to and seeing it with this polish gives hope that just maybe we won’t have seen the last of Sam Gideon and his incredible suit.
+ Fast paced gameplay
+ Relentless pacing
+ No loading screens
– Too short, especially with no other modes
– Predictable story and underdeveloped cast
Games of DAYNE Rating
Developed by: Platinum Games
Published by: SEGA
Release Date: February 10 2020
Platforms: Xbox One, PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch and PC