So I just finished Vanquish today, looking back I was really excited to play this game. It looked bat shit crazy and Vanquish is from the makers of the awesome Bayonetta… Well Vanquish is indeed a good game. But it fell well short of my expectations. Vanquish has several design issues that keep it from flowing as well as it should have and limited the fun for me to put it bluntly. Let me explain:
For starters let me say I played the whole game through on Hard. I would not recommend doing so unless you’re an achievement whore like me. If that’s the case I’d still play on Normal at first to get the “Play the entire game without dying achievement” this can still be done on Hard with a trick… just hit start & then select “title screen” from the menu every time you die. Time consuming but will negate your death, if you want to go legit though play on Normal. Now for starters on the design annoyances let’s take a look at the UI:
I’ve blown up the lower right corner to emphasize my problems with the basic game play design. First off “Sam” not that you’ll need to know his name but he was a star quarter back in High School (yay stereo types). Well anyway Sam has a weapon that can mold and take shapes of other weapon configurations on the fly, pretty cool right? Yes and no, you can only carry 3 weapon designs at once. A mind boggling decision as I see no reason to limit your choices of destruction throughout the game. Platinum’s response to this is to literally CLUTTER the game with weapons everywhere, and I do mean clutter. Each battlefield usually consists of 3 chests which spawn random weapons or grenades and 1 to 2 static gun drops per combat location. It would have been much cleaner to have you “Level Up” your designs with an RPG element (which they do on a smaller scale) and just have ammo caches throughout the game. This is of course an opinion of mine but to me their choice is a representation of dated Eastern game design. Which leads me to my next gripe.
The Augmented Reactive Suit or ARS
This suit is the reason I bought the friggin game. And it’s pretty badass… for the 4 second spurts you get to use it in anyway. That’s why I call the bar above (represents the ARS suit power bar) the “Fun Limiter”. I understand the need to restrict the suit’s functions to an extent but in this case we have way too short of an active duration & far too long of a recharge. Not to mention you’re more vulnerable while it’s recharging, kind of a big deal during the heat of combat. This results in using the ARS suit sparingly. A huge mistake in my opinion.
Next up the Melee:
Probably the strangest choice yet was to make the Melee a very limited option as it will drain your ARS suit completely & also can’t be used again until the suit recharges. Yep two Commie robots kicked my ass when I was out of ammo because I couldn’t combo punch. Thanks DARPA (In game geniuses of the ARS suit).
Now besides the map design being just about as bad of a corridor crawl as Final Fantasy 13 (in fact they feel exactly the same) the only other gripe I have with the game is the story arc & delivery. It feels like a sloppy C-level Metal Gear Solid; hell they could of even used the same exact Metal Gear Solid codec ring for crying out loud. It’s clear Snake was an inspiration for other reasons as well:
So they both wear cool suit’s, smoke, talk like the Christian Bale Batman, and do “their duty” for their country. None of this really matters of course in Vanquish as it’s narrated like a Jackass movie. Vanquish is essentially one explosive stunt after the next… entertaining but not thick on plot if you get me. Especially after the 20th time of fighting the same waves of homicidal Commie robots.
So that’s a decent amount of bitching. Did I like Vanquish? Short answer is yes, it’s a fun ride that has its rocky spots. I probably was expecting a bit much from it due to Bayonetta blowing me away last year. One thing I didn’t get from the general media consensus was the bitching about its length. It was easily a 6 hour game for me which is fine for the crap story it has, those 4 hour guys probably played on Casual which is likely why they blew threw it. I don’t have a ton of specific praise for the game because what it does well has been done better before leaving it pretty average in my book.
Overall it’s a fun game, if the things I bitched about are deal breakers for you, well you have your answer as to whether you should buy it. I found Vanquish to be about in the middle of Bayonetta & Madworld in quality. You see I felt Madworld was shit after 15 minutes of impalements. Here’s hoping Platinum goes back to it’s Bayonetta ways, if you haven’t bought Bayonetta yet… you should.
Recommended Vanquish Purchase Price: $29.99 or lower
Final Grade: C+