Flashback Review - Vanquish | STFUandPlay

Flashback Review - Vanquish

By Tony Polanco Tue, July 02, 2013 - 1:00:13

Vanquish box art cropped

(Originally posted on Nov 05, 2010)

Have you ever thought to yourself “third person shooting games need a protagonist that uses rockets to move around”? If you have, you’re pretty awesome…and probably nuts. But even if you’ve never thought about this wacky concept but would like to play a TPS with this mechanic then you’re in luck! Platinum games and the legendary Shinji Mikami bring us another over the top title in the form of Vanquish. Mister “I want my main character to have rockets”, this is your day.

Vanquish is first and foremost, completely and utterly over the top. Like Platinum games’ other titles such as Bayonetta and Madworld, Vanquish is all about tons of ridiculously awesome super action. You will not be bored for an instant because of all the crazy stuff happening on screen.

The set up for Vanquish is pretty straight forward. It’s the future and the world is in shambles due to the terrible economy. Wait, isn’t that happening right now? Anyway, in the future things suck and they get worse when Russia invades an American space station and use it’s microwave emitter to destroy San Francisco. This is definitely not fabulous. The new leader of Russia, who gains power after a coup d’etat, tells the Hillary Clinton-esque American President that if the U.S.A doesn’t unconditionally surrender, that New York will be next to be vaporized. To prevent this, the military is dispatched to retake the station but they do not come alone. They bring along the guy who you just so happen to play as. You take on the role of Sam Gideon: Agent of D.A.R.P.A, who is wearing a new, badass battle armor called ARS (augmented reaction suit). The ARS is easily one of the coolest things I’ve seen in a video game. Yeah it kinda looks like Spartan armor from Halo, but Spartan armor may as well be tin foil when compared to the ARS.


Like most modern TPS games, you can use cover and “stop and pop”. You won’t be doing this for too long because there are hundreds of russian robots gunning, missileing* and lazering* for you and they don’t give a damn about how well protected you are behind said cover. You are encouraged to use the rockets on your arms and legs to boost from cover point to cover point. You’ll have to make use of this because otherwise you will end up on the receiving end of a robot’s assault. Cover, though effective and easy to use with the press of a button, will not keep you safe for very long.

Being able to rocket around the stage is not the only thing that your suit is capable of. As its name suggests, the ARS can augment your reactions so that things appear to be moving slowly. This will help make fighting some of the really nasty robots a bit easier and make your shots more accurate. If you like rock em sock em robots you can also melee foes to death. Punches are pretty powerful and most enemies can be destroyed with one or two melee attacks. However there is a price to pay for all of these advantages. After too much use of your rockets, AR mode, melee or when you get shot up a lot, your suit will overheat and you will not be able to punch, slow down time or use your rockets. I should also add that if you sustain critical damage you will automatically go into AR mode which is good so that you can find somewhere to keep safe to prevent an untimely death. When your suit is cooling down, it’s best to either find cover or keep running because your advantages are gone and you will be easier prey.

The arsenal isn’t very robust but it’s diverse enough. The cool thing about the guns is that they are actually all one gun. Basically, when you switch between guns it transforms to whatever gun you have selected. You can also switch the guns you have for others you find on the battlefield. Some weapons work better against certain types of robots than others so it’s always good to switch up weapons when the situation calls for it. Upgrading is extremely easy and requires no menus. If, for example, you have an assault rifle that has full ammo and you pick up another assault rifle, it will count towards upgrading it. Upgrading gives you a higher ammo capacity and gives the gun more power so you’ll want to upgrade your favorite guns whenever you can. There are two types of grenades: one is a standard grenade that makes things go boom, and the other is an EMP grenade. The EMP disables robots for a short time and is very useful for when you are overwhelmed or when you want to get the drop on a horde of robots or for the really tough big robots.


Speaking about difficulty, if you are not careful you WILL die a lot in Vanquish. So many games now are too easy but Vanquish has no qualms about kicking your butt if you aren’t smart and careful. Although sometimes Vanquish can be cheap, if you die it’s usually your fault and not the game’s.

Vanquish’s graphics and presentation are pretty slick. When you are in AR mode you can literally see the individual bullets flying past you and you can even see all of the particles that come flying out of explosions. There are some parts of the game where the environment opens up, allowing you to see huge parts of the space station. These vistas look absolutely incredible. Also there is one level that takes place at night and this is easily the best looking level of the game. Most of the game takes place in grey and white hallways and rooms but the night time level and the forest level do a good job of mixing things up. You have to give Vanquish’s graphics engine respect for being able to put as much stuff on the screen as it does and not have any frame rate drops or glitches.

There isn’t a whole lot to say about the music. It’s techno music that fits with the techno world. There are orchestral kinda parts during some of the cut scenes, but the majority of it is techno/electronic music. The sound effects are decent and get the job done.


There’s been a lot of talk going around about Vanquish’s length. Some professional gaming sites (which shall go unnamed) have said that it will take you 4 hours to beat Vanquish. To this I say bullshit! I played on normal mode and it took about 7 hours to beat. If I had to take a guess, I think these reviewers put the game on easy and blasted through really fast because the game had no challenge. I can understand that these guys are pressed for time, but they are doing their fans a disservice by playing games on easy and thereby altering the game length. If you’re doing a review, take the time to get it right and play it at least on normal. If you can’t do that then at least let the readers know that you played the game on easy.

After your initial playthrough you will want to replay again to finish getting the rest of the trophies and achievements which are actually not that hard to get for the most part. The only trophies which will make you work for them are the ones for beating the game on hard mode and especially for completing the challenges. Challenges unlock after every chapter and you can access them from the main menu. They are pretty much survivor mode and they consist of you beating wave after wave of robots. Needless to say (but I’ll say it anyway), the challenges are really hardcore. Good luck with these, soldier!

Vanquish is yet another insanely fun and over the top game from Platinum games. The story serves as a good way to get you from set piece to set piece but won’t win any awards. The characters are also serviceable. No one really stands out but no one is annoying either. The graphics are spectacular during certain points. You’ll play for about 20 hrs if you are a completionist and roughly 7 if you just do a single run on normal. Vanquish is definitely a man’s game and I recommend it to anyone who wants their TPS to be fast, loud and constantly entertaining.

Flashback Reviews are basically HD remasters of reviews that I did for my old site (coolstufftheblog). I’ve tweaked the reviews a bit but for the most part, they’re the same ones that I originally wrote.

*Missileing and lazering are property of stfuandplay.com. Use of these terms without permission will be punishable by death.

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