" Unlike other games that have you claim the super-soldier mantle but give you little by way of power to show for it, Sam's armor is absolutely chock-full of force-multiplying muscle. "
Title: Vanquish by Sega
Format: Third-person Shooter
Reviewing Monkey: Our Ape Masters
The latest release from Resident Evil 4 creator Shinji Mikami, Vanquish is the much-touted, though often misunderstood, game of fast-paced, mecha-style combat. Painted in the pre-release press as some kind of bastard hybrid of Virtua-On and Gears of War, we weren't sure exactly what we would be getting when we finally laid our paws on Vanquish. Fortunately, we were pleasantly surprised with the results.
What This Monkey Thought...
At its heart, Vanquish is an absolutely beautiful,
though fairly straight-forward, third-person shooter. It features the standard
over-the-shoulder view, a very traditional cover system, and controls that will
feel very familiar to anyone who has played other games in the genre. Fortunately,
the game goes far beyond the core of its peers, and leaves uninspired shooters
like Gears of War far behind.
The key to Vanquish is its speed. Playing as a power-suited super soldier known simply as Sam, the game asks you to be as fast paced and aggressive as possible, and gives you all the tools to do so. Borrowing heavily from a number early-nineties-style anime shooters, Vanquish gives you an array of speed burst, power slide, and bullet-time abilities, which combine with the crisp action and tight controls to let you power through and dominate the battlefield.
And that combination is really what gives Vanquish its somewhat unique, and utterly enjoyable, feel. Unlike other games that have you claim the super-soldier mantle but give you little by way of power to show for it, Sam's armor is absolutely chock-full of force-multiplying muscle. It is faster, better armed, and more armored than anyone around you (friends and enemies alike), and gives you a real sense of supremacy--but is balanced through a very clever power-system that will shut down your super-abilities if you push the suit too hard...and pushing yourself right to the edge of that envelope is a huge part of Vanquishe's appeal. And though it is possible to play the game conservatively, moving carefully from cover to cover as you would most other third-person shooters, it is really the feel of aggressive domination that defines and elevates the title.
That said, its strongest asset may also be its biggest weakness, as most players will drive through the campaign in a scant six hours or so. And though a handful of bonus missions are tacked on to the end, the game actually discourages you from replaying individual levels from the campaign as you're going through by taking away the points and weapon upgrades you earned the first time through--something I can't remember another game of the genre ever doing.
Still, it is a highly enjoyable ten-or-so hours of play, and one that will satisfy fans of the fast-paced, action genre.
What it's Worth: Market...but given how short it is you could easily kill it in a single night's rental.