Vanquish is a hard game to review. The score can vary wildly on perception. For instance, if your perception of a good video game must include multiplayer/be longer than 5 hours/have some co-op/has a cohesive story/likable characters, then Vanquish is probably not a game you'd want to throw $60 at.
However if you love heart stopping, break neck speed action games with flawless mechanics and a perfect interface then Vanquish has that in spades.
This game is the very definition of Japanese developers trying to have a plot/characters that appeal to western audiences and failing miserably at it. The main character Sam Gideon just got a cool new suit from this professor dude and they're looking for any excuse to test it out. Luckily, the Russians attack America with a super space death ray, they threaten to use it again unless America surrenders, and bamph we have a mission!
Other characters of note are the main villain who has a super suit as well, the American president (who is female and apparently has no advisers around her somehow), a chick that sends you maps and provides intel (I seriously forgot her name, lol), and one gruff war veteran with an arm cannon called Burns.
Sam is the exact kind of character Japanese developers will think western audiences will love. He smokes, he's defiant, and goes out of his way to save everyone. Sadly, there's really nothing else to him. He has no memorable lines, and never says anything funny or witty. Everything he says is to service the further progression of the game and that's it.
The story itself is so super basic it makes Mass Effect look like it was penned by Stephen King. Not that I expected an actual story, but it would have been nice to feel involved in it somewhat. The game provides the usual Japanese twist of "oh I'm actually EVIL! and not on your side at all! (Burns)" and it comes off just as believable as any Metal Gear game which is not at all, in the slightest.
The worst part is how Sam reacts to this as after Burns makes an attempt on his life, Sam's only concern is Burn's continued safety after he has been riddled with Sam's bullets...and this is ALSO after Sam's dejected reaction to Burns killing off an entire squadron of his own marines because they had to lock down that area of the space station due to a breach. A sensible act by Burns, but Sam's "gotta save em' all" attitude abhors this action. But it's ok Burns, Sam is like a puppy and will stop hating you immediately.
Dear Japanese Developers,
Americans do not understand how a person can suddenly care about the person who just tried to murder them two seconds ago. We much prefer to kill the fuck out of them without remorse; dirty traitorous bastards.
PS - We also don't allow Presidents to be alone in a dark room making sinister deals with Russians after a full scale attack. Seriously, after something like that the President would be lucky to take a piss on their own.
Let's be honest, the story doesn't matter, the characters don't matter, the logic doesn't matter. In a game like this the gameplay is all that is important right? I guess I'm having one of those moments where I want cake and be able to eat it too. This game can be closest compared to Gears of War in terms of gameplay and while that game severely lacked in story and characters too it was at least comprehensible and was somewhat engaging. You felt something in Gears rather than nothing which is the case with Vanquish.
But where Vanquish excels is in gameplay and makes Gears of War look like an old man on crutches. Really though, Vanquish is Gears of War on crack essentially. You get to use cover every five feet, the aiming/shooting is the same and so on. What makes Vanquish as good as it is though is the ability to rocket slide and go into bullet time which combined makes for some awesome amount of addictive fun. The bullet time is no gimmick either as you are penalized for overusing it. Your suit can give out and leave you vulnerable and without rocket slide, a slower dodge roll, no more bullet time, and an increased chance of dying. So it's really fun to use these options on the fly, and with this game you are ALWAYS on the fly.
The interface is another aspect I'd like to point out. It's downright flawless really. Usually I have two or three issues with how the control scheme is for a game but this one does everything very well. There is just ONE gripe I have and that's trying to revive allies. You do this with Square/whatever it is on xbox. But that same button also puts you into cover. So if an ally dies near a wall good luck reviving him, chances are you'll butt hump the wall a few times before you do.
My biggest gripe with the combat though is the melee attacks. The issue here is they use up your suit juice like slowing down time and rocket sliding does. And it would be fine if it used it incrementally like the aforementioned suit juicing abilities do, but when you hit ONE dude with a melee attack all of the sudden you're overheating immediately. WHY? It makes melee attacks completely useless. You may as well forget you even have that button honestly.
As mentioned before, this game has no multiplayer and that may be an issue for some people. But I mention it has online because what this game does mainly is allow you to rack up high scores and see your rankings online. So it's a glorified arcade style "lol I have more points than you do" competition. But I put this in my review because I would like to tell you how awful it is. Just like in Bayonetta another Platinum game, you absolutely cannot see your rankings online. They just don't work, they will not appear no matter how much loading occurs. Not for me at least. I can sit there for hours on both games and nothing will ever show up. How hard could it possibly be to create a functional ranking system?
I have Zen Pinball an indie pinball game on the PSN its ranking scoreboards work perfectly. Ninja Gaiden DS has one, it works perfectly. So the fault cannot be on my end as I have countless games with online rankings and can view all of them except Platinum's games.
Make no mistake, this game is 5 hours long tops. I beat it in nearly under 4 hours. For me the game is fun enough to warrent multiple playthroughs on many difficulties, but that varies by person. All it has other than that are challenge rooms to play, of which from what I can see there are only 6.
I grew up in an era where games were 8 levels long and you paid $50 for them but if the game was fun enough that didn't matter. However, gamers expectations have changed over the years and while I still consider this game to be worth it, many will not. So, for Vanquish's sake what they've done here is essentially a disaster not allowing for co-op or any sort of multiplayer or not even making the game longer or adding additional bits of fun. This is literally a bare bones game with 5 Acts, that's it. It screams rental and while I'd suggest to buy it if only to prove to the Gears of War creators that rehashing gameplay and not evolving to Vanquish standards isn't something gamers are going to accept anymore, I can't with a clear head recommend purchasing a game any normal gamer would play once then move on.
*Rocket slide > Rocketman*