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October 27, 2010 | 12:42 a.m. CST
Shinji Mikami knows what he’s doing. He directed Vanquish, his latest video game creation, and it is the most insane action game of the year.
Sam Gideon is the title character, a fast-talking soldier who has a cigarette hanging from his mouth any time he isn’t mouthing someone. He is sent from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency to assist marines against a Russian takeover of the U.S.’s 51st state, which happens to be an outer space colony. The story is nearly paper-thin, but players aren’t here to get their story on.
Platforms: Xbox 360 and Playstation 3
Rating: M for Mature
Vanquish boasts the most lightening-fast action and satisfying difficulty this side of Ninja Gaiden. Gideon wears a white, cyborg-esque suit that allows the player to slow time and rocket boost along the ground for fast transport. Max Payne brought slow motion to the table nine years ago and Vanquish makes it feel fresh again. Every gunfight requires the player to use the cybersuit’s abilities to stylishly get the drop on the countless robot enemies Gideon is up against.
Gameplay doesn’t deviate much from futuristic, third-person gun slinging and the campaign lasts only about five hours, but Vanquish doesn’t feel short. It’s a dazzling thrill ride from beginning to end. PlatinumGames has polished this game into a gorgeous shine. The settings are vast and richly detailed, with just enough variation to keep things from getting monotonous. Gideon’s character model is impressively rendered during the game. Parts of his suit open up, overheat and transform back together all in the middle of intense shootouts. The level of graphical detail in Vanquish is unbelievable.
The drawbacks are minor. The story and script are cheesy, but the voice acting is a notch above average. There are only arcade-style challenge rounds to pad the game after the short campaign. The lack of multiplayer might turn players off, but because Vanquish requires the use of slow motion so much, it would render multiplayer impossible. Also, there are no more than a handful of enemy types, but the tiered boss enemies throughout the game keep things interesting and challenging.
Vanquish is 100 percent flashy and stylish action without much substance. In a sea of Western-produced military shooters that take themselves too seriously, this Japanese-made gem is an over-the-top rollercoaster of gorgeous fun. Vanquish is fast, furiously fun and impossible to put down until the credits roll.
Vox Rating: VVVV