Synyster Graves


by on Jan.05, 2011, under Xbox 360

Vanquish is the third person shooter for the Xbox 360 and was published by SEGA. It’s set in the future of Earth whereby the US military are attempting a counter offensive from a tyrannical Soviet army of mechanoids who have overthrown the Russian government in a military coup. Think of it like a futuristic cold war. Well anyways the Americans are rather annoyed that Russia have decided to blow up San Francisco and this game is set on an orbiting space colony. You play as Sam Gideon, a former American Footballer-come-Super Soldier with a suit full of gadgets including low profile booster rockets, super strength and super armour. Think of him like a cross between Buzz Lightyear and Marcus Fenix from Gears of War in the middle of Tron.

The game itself is frenetic and to be honest, difficult at times to see what on earth is going on as there are bullets flying over your head from every direction imaginable and you find yourself dodging artillery matrix style just so that you can don’t get completely annihilated when you enter a firefight. You do have some neat tricks though, mainly coming in the form of the turbo boosters in your boots allowing you to scoot about along the floor like a firework on rollerskates and there is the obligatory bullet time mode which allows your to gain the upper hand over the enemies by being able to take them out in slow motion. All of the special skills however is very limited as your suit has the tendency to overheat when you enter the bullet time or rocket modes. This however I feel makes it a kind of flaw in the game that you are able to engage in such perks only for you to have severely limited time to use them.

Arguably speaking you could say that you have to use your special abilities wisely but in effect, it’s merely being stingy with how much you can use to your advantage. The suit overheats as if the battle was on the sun and you’d think that if they developed this suit for real, it wouldn’t be such a fucking liability by being so unbelievably unstable. When the suit does overheat, and believe me, it will a lot; you then enter a cooldown period whereby your pad rumbles like floorboard in a salsa competition and you’re pretty vulnerable in general. This is intensely frustrating when this happens when using the melee attack. The attack can KO a single enemy robot but will straight away overheat leaving you exposed to on coming fire. This personally is a pile of shit as why would you have a single attack which leaves you wide open for damage?

Pay attention because there is A LOT going on!

The weapons in the game are plentiful and all pretty cool. They range from Heavy machine guns, homing lasers and Tron style energy disks. What is a pile of crap is the upgrading weapons. Most games will have an upgrade system derived from pickups like in Dead Space for example, and while some enemies will drop an upgrade cube, you’ll have to upgrade your weapons by collecting the same weapon type. But this only wirks if the weapon you’re trying to upgrade has full ammuntion. Fire a single round off and picking up the same weapon as a drop will just replenish ONE bullet. You have to hav the weapon maxed out with ammo to upgrade it. But it’s still not as simple as that. You have to essentially rank up your weapon (sergeant, corporal, etc) before it improves any of its traits such as ammo, damage, rate of fire, etc. The worst part is that there’s nothing in the tutorial or the manual telling you this, you just work it out through trial and error.

As with most games of this ilk, all the enemies will fire upon you constantly. Boss machines which look like Terminator style Hunter Killers will gun you down in a second’s notice. The Argus robots as they’re called start off like a robotic, missile launching spider before transforming into a giant decepticon like war machine. Frustratingly you have to wear down their core to zero before they transform and get all their entire health bar replenished leaving you to have to essentially kill them twice. Typically too, the AI friendlies are completely useless, instead of shooting back will run around in large circles spouting off stupid lines of military dialogue rather than actually help you. Since you can revive friendlies, you find yourself being a rocket-propelled Florence Nightingale scooting from cover to cover reviving the hapless nitwits in your squad.

I think one of the main things to note is the sheer difficulty of this game. Now I’m totally up for a challenge, but I’m not keen on the cheapness of enemiy one hit kills when you have have to plough about 10,000 rounds of ammunition into a single tank to kill it, yet in one shot the fucker has killed you outright. Easy mode is pretty much a doddle, but still can cause you to die several times. Normal for some unknown reason is really difficult as the one hit kills come out and play, and hard is possibly one of the most difficult settings I have ever played on. Basically unless you happen to be a Gears of War world champion, you will die repeatedly over and over again. And worst of all the weapon upgrades you carefully selected on the lower difficulties don’t mean shit, because it’s all been reset. Plus every time you die, it reduces your upgrades so your weapons actually get worse if you die a lot. That is a huge developer cheap shot.

As usual you have to win the war single handedly as your friendlies are completely shit!

Graphically I can really fault this game at all. The combat is fluid at the bullet time animations are brilliant as you can see the individual bullets flying across your face in glorious HD quality. Similar to Gears of War, they have cunningly implemented scenes whereby you progress storyline wise walking along at snails pace instead of waiting for crude status bars to appear to load the next section. Only a handful of games like Gears of War and the FIFA series bothered having interactive loading screens instead of staring blankly at a piece of concept art while it loads.

I think the major flaw with the game is the fact that it’s single player only. Like Just Cause 2, this game would benefit massively from having the multiplayer element in it as it almost feels like it was supposed to be a co-op title and that this was changed last minute. With the rise of games liek Gears of War and Army of Two about, you’d think that the developers of Vanquish would have followed suit?

In summation, Vanquish is a really decent shooter which was fluid and graphically appealing. The storyline is difficult to follow but when the focus is soley on being a bullet filled madhouse, this game doesn’t disappoint too much by pretending to be something it’s not. Multilplayer would have been nice and the storyline is a bit short, but seeing the price drop below £20 online makes this a worthy purchase.

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4 Comments for this entry

  • SingForChange

    Hmmm…I have got this game but as of yet I haven’t played it (despite hearing nothing but good things about it, and now this review is pushing me more towards it again). Unfortunately, at roughly the same time as I got this, I also got Red Dead, Red Dead Undead Nightmare and Fallout New Vegas – about 250 hours of gameplay in those 4 games right?!

    So, at the moment (due to the rave about it) Red Dead is front of the line (addicted), and Undead Nightmare/Fallout will follow…However, you have persuaded me that maybe it will be worth dipping into Vanquish at some stage in between!

    I’ve never been a fan of Third Person Shooters (or FPS’s) – largely because I’m crap at them – but this game seemed more accessible because of the time slowing element (similarly, Fallout 3 was ok because of the VATS system). Doesn’t seem like it works overly well from your review, but you have left me intrigued, and perhaps with a new way to fill an empty night in the near future!

    You need to take up reviewing professionally! I never trust sites or magazines as they all probably take backhanders to talk up/shoot down certain games – your reviews always give a good/fair/entertaining/funny (delete as appropriate) look at the game and I can pretty successfully base whether I will enjoy a game on your review!

    Jan Dekker

  • Whyte Rabit

    I agree SingForChange, the only reviewers I trust are Synyster and Yahtzee (who does Zero Punctuation). And you’re right again about Undead Nightmare, it’s awesome!

    Although back to this review, Vanquish does sound really good although the ‘scoot about along the floor like a firework on rollerskates’ passage made me think of Armored Core 3 which is one of the worst games I’ve ever played lol. The bullet time seems really interesting, so may well be worth a shot 🙂

  • SingForChange

    I assume the bullet time is like the deadeye in red dead, although having not played it, thats something I can’t really clear up yet – Synyster, any comments?!

    I can see the scooting around on the floor being really hard to master/use effectively unless combined with the bullet time, but that sounds like it will just frustrate you as you’ll overheat. I really may have to give this a go tonight…I’m talking myself into it!

  • Synyster Graves

    The bullet time is indeed like in RDR but the window for being able to shoot is a lot less, plus in ARS mode, you have to activate it by either diving out of cover or scooting. It takes a few attempts to get used to it in all honesty. RDR is easier to get into the bullet time too and lasts a bit longer, the bullet time in Vanquish is a bit more like what was in Max Payne.

    The overheating issue gets very annoying very fast but it’s just part and parcel of the game. You do actually automatically go into bullet time if you take too much damage which is very helpful seeing that there are so many bullets on screen at once!

    But what do I know, I may be bitter because I’m crap at it lol (see Rock Band 3 review comments for source of sarcasm)

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