Reviews

Vanquish PC review - Let the plot slide

Platinum
Vanquish - Everything explodes Platinum
Vanquish - Everything explodes

Seven years after its console release Vanquish has finally arrived on PC. What it lacks in the narrative department, it more than makes up for through style and gratuitously fluid action.

When compared to their PC counterparts, most console shooters are faced with a common design challenge - it is nigh impossible to shoot and move at the same time with any measure of accuracy or sense of gratification while holding a controller.

Console shooters have tried to bypass this obstacle by slowing down enemies, littering levels with chest-high walls and obscuring half of the screen with ironsights.

Platinum[undefined]Vanquish - Slidetastic

Where other console shooters hide in cover - Vanquish limbos under incoming fire; where its counterparts slow down enemies - Vanquish speeds up the player via posterior-mounted jet packs and slows down time when necessary; and where its lesser brethren obscure vision by glueing the players face to a rifle - Vanquish cries screw you it's the future and clutters the screen up with as many robots and explosions as it can get away with.

Platinum[undefined]Vanquish - The Unknown explodes as well

Aside from the near constant on-screen chaos, which is a minor nuisance once the player has a firmer grasp of where exactly to look for trouble on its open maps, Vanquish's sole major weak spot is what can laughably be called the narrative. The future US Marine Corps is entangled in a war on some space station with what I believe is some version of Space Albania.

Platinum[undefined]Vanquish - What? You thought I was kidding about Space Albania?

[undefined]Vanquish - Spoiler warning, I guess

Comically corrupt politicians, a betrayal and plot twist that can be seen coming from orbit, and characterisation that amounts to a wet fart on a rainy day - all delivered with a straight face and without any wit whatsoever. Luckily, Vanquish doesn't need a plot when it has bum-mounted jet-packs.

Platinum[undefined]Vanquish - By flank you mean slide?

Staying behind cover and picking off enemies in a more traditional manner is still an option, but the game somehow convinces the player that doing so will make the protagonist, and the player by extension, look like a total sissy. Said protagonist, whose only defining character trait is that he can pull cigarettes out of his arse, is enclosed in a futuristic battle suit that allows him to buzz around the battlefield like the world's all time greatest limbo champion. It sounds silly, but works brilliantly in practise. The suit can also materialise three weapons into the players hand at any given time.

Platinum[undefined]Vanquish - In most shooters, there is an enemy type that explodes when killed. In Vanquish, everything explodes

Vanquish's arsenal consists of the standard shooter boomstick assortment - machine guns, rocket launchers, sniper rifles, and so on. My personal favourite happened to be the fully upgraded shotgun. There is something about the way one can slide toward an enemy bullet-sponge, emptying the shotgun into his face while constantly staggering the brute, and finishing the poor bastard off with a back flip melee attack that makes me want to join with the slug thrower in holy matrimony.

Each weapon comes with a unique melee attack, so there is an additional layer of variety through weapon choice that can accommodate different playstyles.

Platinum[undefined]Vanquish - Hold my grenade while I try this

Despite being a console port, I strongly recommend playing with a mouse and keyboard. The added control and precision this provided didn't stop me from getting nailed and maimed frequently, and I dread imagining what my playthrough might have looked like if I was demoted to using a controller.

There are reports floating around the internet that the game's damage and hit calculation is somehow tied to its unlocked PC framerate - an obvious bug and a satisfactory explanation for why I had as hard a time as I did, even on normal difficulty. I probably have myself to blame for this, because the game's final statistics screen reported that I've spent less than 15 per cent of my total 10 hour playtime behind cover, and I don't regret it in the slightest.

Platinum[undefined]Vanquish - All the characterisation you need.

Vanquish has to be experienced first hand in order to be understood. The way that Platinum's console shooter glides, flows and pops in all its glory, especially on PC, is so unique and innovative that no one has even dared to try and imitate it, a good 7 years after the original release. While the game would have been better served with a more tounge-in-cheek narrative, this barely diminishes what Vanquish has to offer in terms of action, and sheer explosion fuelled, jet-pack driven, frantic fun.

Platinum[undefined]Vanquish - Boom! Even explosions explode