Platinum Games has been making quite a name for themselves and for good reason. Formed by members of Capcom’s long-gone Clover Studio and led by Resident Evil creator Shinji Mikami, Platinum Games has already gained a reputation for taking familiar game formulas and giving them a little twist to make them more fun. Their last game, Bayonetta, is a perfect example of that. It took the Devil May Cry’s stylistic action and added the additional element of freezing time. With Vanquish, Platinum Games seeks to do more of the same by taking the familiar third-person, hide behind gameplay that everyone has played and make it a little more interesting.
Everything’s Included - Like Bayonetta, Vanquish includes gameplay elements that have been seen before in other games but they make them work so well together. Most notably, they combine a cover system that is very similar to Gears of War with the now-famous "bullet time." These things have been done to death separately but have not fused very well together. Unlike previous games that tried to combine these two mechanics, in Vanquish you HAVE to use both to succeed in the game.
Keep ‘Em Alive - Being a part of Bravo squad, you are not alone in battle. In other games, your squad is just there to take up space and get in the way. While the same could be said for Bravo Squad, there’s one significant difference: they earn you points. Every time one of the squad members takes down an enemy, you get points. If you revive them, you get points. If they stay alive, you get more points. Finally, a game has made me give a damn about NPC teammates...by making them bonus multipliers.
Them Some Big ‘Uns - I love big bosses and Vanquish has its share. Like any good boss battle, you’ll have to change up your strategy to counter the changes the bosses go through. Not only that, the bosses are in much larger areas than other games with big bosses meaning that there are plenty of power-ups to find and places to hide.
Will You Look At That - Multiple times while playing through the game, I had to stop and look around. While the environments look pretty good, it’s the amount of activity going on that’s really impressive. One particular sequence stands out in my memory: You’re traveling on a flying platform that’s almost like a monorail and an enemy will come up on your the right side on a similar platform. While shooting at them, they will begin to move slowly upwards as if rolling on the side of a wall until they’re right above you shooting down then coming back then on your left side. Essentially, it was the same action, but having that platform move the way it did made the scene incredibly intense.
SHOT IN THE FOOT
It’s How Long?? - Yes, this is by far the biggest complaint given by players and other reviewers of the game. For me, the official game time had me clock in a little more than 5 hours. At first glance, that’s incredibly short. However, it took me several days playing an hour or two a day to actually complete the game. Fact is, I died...a lot, especially at the bosses. It’s also at the bosses that a death means that you’ll have to replay a good 15 minutes to get to the same point where you died. While I don’t doubt some gamers will have completion times of 4-5 hours the actual time spent playing the game is longer.
Wait, What’s Going On Again? - The story is really convoluted. It’s essentially taking the plot of the most common anti-communist flick from the 80s and making it futuristic. Soviets attack the U.S.A., U.S.A. sends elite squad with a special super cyborg soldier along with it. Add a dash of conspiracies on top and you get a storyline that is much easier to understand when the game is put on mute. Speaking of mute...
Won’t You Please Shut Up! - Ugh, the voice acting is atrocious. There is simply no emotion. Not once did I get any real feeling while listening to the dialogue. It could be that the bad script made it horrible to read for the actors, but that does not excuse how incredibly bad it was.
Once again, Platinum Games has taken what’s been done before, mix it all together, and make for a fun game with Vanquish. However, like their previous title Bayonetta, they’re still missing a quality narrative to make for a completely amazing experience. At least Bayonetta had some more interesting characters, unlike Vanquish, but both are shining examples of a developer focusing on creating fun gameplay. Now if they had only made a compelling story to go with the fun gameplay, you’d have a GOTY contender.