Ten years ago, a friend recommended Vanquish from Platinum Games. I’m a sucker for flashy action games, so it piqued my interest. Unfortunately, as a college student with no job, I couldn’t justify spending $60 for a five-hour experience.
Years later, I saw Vanquish at my local Game Crazy for $10 and knew it was the right time. I’ll never forget putting the disk into my Xbox 360, and being blown away moments later. Vanquish featured high-octane action, satisfying gun mechanics, and a crazy (albeit cheesy) narrative.
With the 10th-anniversary edition recently hitting current-generation consoles, I revisited one of my favorite games to see if it still holds up. After three playthroughs, I’m thrilled to say that Vanquish is just as good as it was in 2010.
B- movie greatness
The story of Vanquish is campy, utterly ridiculous, but difficult to turn away from. Players step into the shoes of Sam Gideon, a DARPA agent, who is tasked with rescuing a scientist kidnapped by a Russian agent hellbent on causing havoc in New York City. Alongside his new Augmented Reaction Suit, Sam’s journey takes him through a bloody space war, betrayal, and potential suicide missions. Sure, the narrative wears thin at times, but the gameplay makes up for its shortcomings in spades!
Video games can have a myriad of problems; the story can be lackluster, and technical glitches can hinder the experience. But if the overall experience is fun, do the faults really matter? I’m a fan of countless games that others would easily dismiss. Fortunately, Vanquish features some of the best gameplay in the entire third-person shooter genre. It even makes the familiar cover shooter mechanics feel fresh.
Non-stop, high intensity action
Sam’s suit can use boosters for a limited amount of time to traverse from cover to cover. This ability comes in handy when trying to evade enemy attacks. Additionally, there’s an Augmented Reaction mode that slows the entire game to almost a halt. This mechanic allows Sam to pinpoint the exact location of enemies and attack them with precision. It’s also a nifty maneuver to use when enemies expose weak points that may only be visible for a short time.
Vanquish is very much a shoot first, ask questions later type of game. There’s no real depth to the world Platinum Games built, but that’s not something to worry about. It’s short, sweet, and gets to the point. There aren’t any instances of filler, and while the game does end way too soon, it’s an unforgettable experience that fans of the genre need to play.
Vanquish is more than meets the eye
Shinji Mikami is well-known for horror games like Resident Evil, Dino Crisis, and The Evil Within. It’s great to see such an acclaimed director tackle something that isn’t exactly in his wheelhouse. Yes he did it confidently. What I love most about Vanquish is that it’s a game that knows exactly what it wants to be, and follows through on those promises without hesitation.
The biggest problem with Vanquish is the box art. It’s as generic as it comes, and doesn’t really tell you much about the experience you’ll get if you buy the game. If it wasn’t for my friend speaking highly about this Platinum Games sci-fi shooter, I never would’ve played one of my current favorite video games.
Fortunately, Vanquish is now on Xbox One and PlayStation 4. Although the cutscenes are still rendered like they were in 2010, the gameplay is in 4K and runs at 60FPS. It was an incredible video game in 2010, and it’s still just as good in 2020.