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LTTP: Vanquish (PS3)

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LTTP or ‘late to the party’ pieces are opportunities for me to catch up and write about games I missed out on the first time around. They may contain spoilers.

I can see why Vanquish can seem like a very short and boring third person shooter which was why I tried spicing it up from the get go. I also knew this was a Platinum Games joint with the direction of Shinji Mikami and thus I approached it like Bayonetta mixed with third person cover based shootin’. The end result was a whole lot of slow mo shots and explosions while looking bad ass.

Gillian had the niftiest looking piece of power armor/suit that I had ever seen in a video game. All the little suit animations and touches went unnoticed during the heat of the action, but I took the time to stand still, switch weapons and watch his DARPA developed suit dissipate heat.

Performing power knee slides and initiating slow motion “bullet time” built up heat and required some care when utilizing. I needed to know where my escape and cover options because I couldn’t rely on freestyling my way through the tougher battles. They seemed like dumb Russian robots, but in a group with differing weakpoints and abilities, they were challenge to manage.

Now I could have sat behind cover and take pot shots with my heavy machine gun or sniper rifle, but that’s not the point of the game at all. To me Vanquish was about executing and executing quickly. They didn’t make the pursuit of high scores or quick completion times an emphasis, but I believed they should have. Don’t force players to beat the chapter within a certain time or score, but at least give out some tangible benefit for doing so. Even a traditional three medal ranking system would have been more beneficial than the tallied scoreboard at the end of each chapter. They could have taken it a step further and implemented some form of “Autolog” where I can see how stacked against my friends, but that’s just wishful thinking on my part.

Despite the game’s relatively short length, I still found a number of chapters to be a drag. By the end of the first three chapters, I’ve seen most — if not all — of what Vanquish had to offer. The game needed more moments like the collapsing bridge and zero gravity sections. And it could have done well without the Megaman-style repeat battles against earlier bosses — it’s a sign of content deprivation when you end up throwing not one, but two bosses at the same time.

So that was Vanquish. I was wondering why this game didn’t garner as much buzz and sales like Bayonetta and now I know why. Vanquish has a very strong base and with a proper sequel, it could end up being absolutely fantastic. For a relatively small Japanese team, bringing a third person shooter of this caliber was mighty impressive. Vanquish is easily the best shooter coming out of Japan, but unless you understand what the game is trying to get at with its stylish action, it could end up being rather bland.

Verdict:
Worth a Try

Ratings Guide

For more information on Vanquish, visit the official site.

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