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Xbox 360 Review: Vanquish

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It’s questionable whether or not the dialogue of Vanquish was translated correctly. Never mind the dubbing, which is one step shy of atrocious. The various references to eBay, vibrators, and Roombas are wholly American in nature, taking away from what is certainly a Japanese design, and lessening the eventual plot twists.

This is mish-mash of politics, the failing economy, and starting wars for reasons no one seems sure of, resonating with the Western audience surely, even if they’re wrapped up in Vanquish’s nearly absurd pacing. There is little time to breathe here, considering how fast it can go. Watching the lead, named Sam, do a quick 180 when flicking a stick is only an indication of the intensity to be had.

Vanquish takes place in a massive, rotating space colony, looking around and spotting buildings surrounding the fight certainly echoing a certain other franchise that deals in space and circle-things. Further knocking some points down on the originality scale is Sam’s suit, enabling him above-human attributes, like added strength and the ability to turn his arm into whatever gun he picks up. Nifty to watch in action at the least.

The campaign here is against mostly metallic creations, killer robots looking for their programmed fix of destroyed humanity. What they actually exist for is to go boom, losing the battle to Sam’s simply awesome abilities, from slowing down time to sliding around the stage like an Olympic Luge gold medalist could only dream of.

At its core, Vanquish can be played as your now standard duck-and-cover shooter. For the most part, that will actually work, only certain enemy types figuring out the concept of a flank, or the larger ones producing missiles with uncanny tracking abilities. The game design is such that you should be moving, keeping yourself breathless, and the destruction occurring with regularity. The control system, barring the left bumpers ability to let you light up a cigarette during a break, is configured well enough to allow that type of motion. Interrupting cinematic breaks, most with the same level of high energy, are the only things that break the design philosophy of speed.

Shooting is smooth and consistent, bumping up the sensitivity a notch helping to work within the pacing. Sam’s abilities let him, literally, dive into the fight, sliding into robots before unleashing a kick of incredible magnitude leaving nothing but nuts and bolts (Ratchet & Clank would have a field day).

Those smaller skirmishes are fun, but familiar. This acknowledgment comes in the form of variety and scale, one fight in the third act (of five) taking place on a dizzying railway, the opposing robots flipping upside down and around. Gravity takes effect, explosions knocking debris down onto the players car, while the mass of cities whizzes by in the background.

Another section revolves around a gargantuan tank called a Kreon, dwarfing every building in sight, and taking down many as its lasers do their work. This makes a prior level, which has chunks of a collapsing tower rolling over the playfield, seem like nothing at all, the sense this war is taking its toll evident in the visuals and frenzied pacing of the action itself.

The final conflict doesn’t resolve this same level of scale, that left to the final cinematics, but Vanquish makes an apology (so it seems) with a wildly kooky credits sequence that is entirely playable. That makes the sequel-ensured ending easy to swallow, or even forget in the face of a credits sequence that won’t even stop the mass of shooting on display.

Vanquish is rated M (Mature) by the ESRB for Blood and Gore, Intense Violence, Strong Language. This game can also be found on: PS3.

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About Matt Paprocki

Matt Paprocki has critiqued home media and video games for 13 years and is the reviews editor for Pulp365.com. His current passion project is the technically minded DoBlu.com. You can read Matt's body of work via his personal WordPress blog, and follow him on Twitter @Matt_Paprocki.