Available On: PC
Genre: Third-Person Shooter
Official Site: www.platinumgames.com/games/vanquish
Release Date: May 25, 2017
Where To Buy: Steam
After the successes of the Halo and Gears of War franchise, the years 2006 to 2010 held a surge of what has been colloquially referred to as “bro-shooters.” Some aimed to take a more deliberately comical and brutal approach, like that of Bulletstorm; others decided to try to replicate the serious nature of its successful predecessors, like the Crysis series. In the latter half of this era, one of these more series games surfaced with some interesting new ideas on combat and has now been brought to Steam with 4k and HD support.
Vanquish is a third-person shooter developed by Platinum games that launched on the PS3 and Xbox 360 back in 2010, and has now been brought over and remastered for Steam. Think of this remaster in the same way as the Turok 2 remaster though, in the sense that the core game, story, voice acting, and mechanics are all still the same as they were. The visuals have been updated for the new age, but does the rest of the product hold up?
For those who didn’t play the franchise seven years ago, Vanquish follows marine and super soldier Sam Gideon whose space station is attacked by Russian forces. Using the power of his Augmented Reaction Suit provided by DARPA, he and his fellow soldiers battle their way through this space station, fighting giant mechanized robots and waves of enemies in order to prevent the Russians from using the station’s array from destroying cities on earth. Along the way, tensions rise between Gideon and Lieutenant-Colonel Robert Burns over the cost of human lives and what the greater good is.
If this sounds like Metal Gear set in space, you’re not far off. You’re even more on the dot when you look at the way that the dialogue helps push the story or rather fails to. The way the dialogue is written fits on the “not-so-great” side of bro shooters, with cliches and one-liners being the primary response to most scenarios. At one point, a wave of enemies is air dropped off and Burns, who wields an unrealistically massive weapon, says the line, “I think I’m going to need a bigger gun,” immediately inducing groans and head shaking. Even Gideon is voiced with the typical gruff voice and tough responses, always taking away from any realism in the characters.
All of this being said, the game does a solid job with mechanics, even after all these years. Your suit is equipped with a variety of abilities, such as a power slide and a heavy melee attack. While combat has a tendency to get pretty hectic with floods of enemies, the ability to slide from cover to cover with ease makes you feel in control of the battlefield. Your suit also comes equipped with a safety system that sends you into a slow-mo precision style of combat when you get overloaded with damage. This is a pretty hit or miss ability that you can’t deactivate. When you really need it, it can be a lifesaver, but when returning to cover would have done the same thing, it burns out your suit’s energy and can actually lead to your death.
You also have access to a number of weapons, and ammo drops are fairly common to find around the map. Unfortunately, there seems to be a few that work all the time, like the assault rifles, and others that hardly ever work, like shotguns. This becomes especially clear in the boss fights when you need to quickly dump damage into specific areas at a distance and all you can find is shotgun ammo. Easily one of the best weapons you can find in this update, the sniper, works like a charm with mouse and keyboard. Unfortunately, ammo drops for it are practically a miracle to find.
Speaking of boss fights, the boss fights in Vanquish are initially intimidating and exciting at the same time, but you’ll quickly find that they can become fairly repetitive, as the mechanics for defeating them is breaking off parts, hitting a core, and then dodging. Repeat this process around five times, and you’ve beaten each boss. The designs and aesthetic are really cool and have a lot going for them, but the redundant nature of them takes some of that good will away from them. Fortunately, the game never gives you much of a chance to think about this as you’re quickly ushered from fight to fight, even after these boss battles.
Verdict: While the game may have done alright back in 2010, it seems that it’s stuck in that time period. As an industry, we’ve come much farther than the era of bro-shooters, meaning that this remaster is more of a look into the past rather than admiring something that holds up. If you’re looking for a convoluted story and hyper-masculine tone, then try out Vanquish as it looks better than ever. If you’re looking for a compelling military shooter with a powerful story and characters, search elsewhere.