Back in May, Sega decided to re-release its high-octane, action-packed sci-fi shooter Vanquish for the PC. It has been seven years since I played it the first time way back on the PS3, but after revisiting it after that time, it is safe to say that Platinum Games’ space shooter still earns its reputation as a unique shooter with seemingly never-ending action. Vanquish s still the same great title of yesteryear with a few improvements along the way that is a sure buy for anyone who enjoys anything from the people at Platinum Games.
The story takes place in the near-distant future, where humans have exceeded the world’s resources and nations are pitted against one another for what is left. After the United States launched a space station in order to collect new sources of energy from the Sun, a radical military faction known as the Order of the Russian Star take over the station for themselves and use it to destroy San Francisco and plan to destroy much more unless their demands are met. Now our hero, Sam Gideon, with his augment, combat-suit are called into action to try to take down this terrorist group before more harm comes to pass.
Explaining the story may sound as vanilla as space shooters go as it does fall into some sci-fi stereotypes, but once playing the game, you’ll know that it’s once simple narrative is far from that. Platinum Games always have a knack of putting so much zany fun and over the top moments in any of their games and Vanquish is no exception. The game truly benefits from this as it is far different from any other experience from any other shooter of its time and still stands out, even seven years after its initial release. Many shooters from last gen had the issue of being so mundane and lackluster when it came to their plots, but Vanquish puts out a refreshing experience that never gets dull at any given time, even if it barely makes any sense.
Throughout the game, you’ll be equipped with an augmented power suit that grants you numerous enhancements and abilities. With the Augmented Reaction Suit (ARS), you have the ability to speed through obstacles and difficult terrain, an immense arsenal and a ludicrous selection of weaponry that can be upgraded for better stats and power as well as being equipped with a device that allows you to slow down time in AR Mode, which will give you easier time in taking down the opposition that waits ahead.
The game’s cover system is regarded as one of Vanquish’s biggest assets and even after seven years, it should still be considered as one of the best ones to date. It feels natural to hide from enemy fire and it is also one of the game’s most important feature as, without it, you will surely have a difficult time getting through anywhere. Many games to this day still have a difficult time to utilize any cover system without making it feel like a hindrance to the game’s progression, but Vanquish makes it feel rewarding and a necessity to further along through the campaign.
Many of the stages are placed in a vertical slope to enhance the use of your augmented suit’s abilities. Being able to barrel your way through a horde of enemies while going uphill gives you the illusion that you are progressing further than you actually are without having you feeling overpowered. It’s a great way to make players feel as powerful as they can be, but knowing when to stop boosting through the myriad of foes is also important, as powerful as you are, taking on too many foes, especially on harder difficulties will make it near impossible to play.
Vanquish is a relatively short experience that offers little in the variety of modes that the game has to offer. Playing through the full story should take you between five to six hours, but you can easily double that time for complete runs with collectibles hidden throughout each stage. In a classic Platinum Games way, there are a variety of difficulty settings for the game ranging from a laughable Casual Auto mode to an insane and near unfair God Hard mode which has you dead after one or two shots. Trying your luck with a harder difficulty setting or going back for missing collectible are your only means of replayability, but Vanquish’s easy to pick up and play style makes it easy to go back and try to complete the game at 100%.
The game has aged rather well over the years which is in part to the constant speed and minimal stoppage. With its new home on the PC, Vanquish does receive a small visual upgrade and allows players to fix the game to whichever setting they so desire, but just keep note that even at the highest setting, the game isn’t a visually enhanced version of its former self, but it does run far smoother than I can remember playing it on the PS3. For those who can, you can even run the game at 4K and 60FPS for the maximum experience which looks stunning, even for a seven-year-old title.
Going back to the story, Vanquish’s dialog and cutscenes aren’t as polished as other Platinum Games title, usually falling victim to jargon and mediocre voice acting. It is great that the game’s plot isn’t to be taken too seriously and makes up for some of the titles vocal miscues. There were some performance issues that arose while playing Vanquish as some NPC’s would either get stuck or have janky animations, but nothing too noticeable that halted the fast sequences of the game.
The biggest question to answer with re-releases is if the game is worth purchasing it a second time and for Vanquish’s case it is nice to have the option of playing it on your PC with higher settings, but if you already own the PS3 or Xbox 360 versions of the game, it could also be suggested to plug-in your last gen consoles and give the old title another go. If you do wish to re-purchase the title, it won’t set you back too far back as it is only priced at a mere $19.99 USD, which for a game of its length should be considered a bargain.
Vanquish is a terrific title if you are into anything that Platinum Games has to offer. It’s fast, it’s fun and it is far different from anything else in what is a washed out genre of gaming. The game is a tad short and has few modes to keep going once completed, but make no mistake, Vanquish is a hidden treasure that was released seven year’s ago and it still is after its PC release. A sure buy for anyone who is looking for a quick and easy to pick up and play, Vanquish is one of Platinum Games best earlier projects.