Shinji Mikami is known for games such as Devil May Cry, Resident Evil 4 and Killer7. There’s a lot more on his resume, but that sums it up pretty well. He prefer simplicity before complicated UI’s and millions of menus. In other words – less is more. He proves this well with his latest game. The high-paced, third person shooter Vanquish is, unlike many other games today, developed for the PS3 system and not ported from the 360 version. Furthermore, there is no on-line multiplayer option. Thank you Mr Mikami. That last part sounds great in my ears, since I think that co-op gaming should first of all take place together with a friend. Couch co-op, if you may.
Unfortunately, this game doesn’t have couch co-op, which is one of the two biggest flaws in the game, no doubts. On the other hand, when playing this game  I guess a split screen might reduce the necessary field of vision that is required to survive.
However, this game is a masterpiece when it comes to TPS action and I let my third playthrough stand as a valid argument for that.

The gameplay is superb and, as I stated in my Castlevania: LoS review, the controls are easy to learn and you can’t blame the game for failing. If you mix classic, side scrolling shmups (like Gradius, R-Type, etc) with the TPS genre, you get Vanquish. Intensity deluxe. Gears of war is awesome, but you advance in a slower pace and do not move in the same versatile way. Where Fenix and Don are tanks, Sam is a stealth bomber. This is, as mentioned, my third playthrough and I got the game five days ago. That says a lot about the length of the game, which is the second of the two flaws.
It’s WAY too short and when you’ve beaten it on Normal, you can easily go through the game in an afternoon on Casual. The firefights and the tempo makes up for that, though. The different weapons all have their significant role to play and none of them feels like a filler. I usually don’t use shotguns in these kind of games, but when you upgraded it a few times, the satisfaction of shredding russian androids is huge.

When you beat the game, you unlock an even tougher difficulty which giver you a new challenge to face, although there’s no trophy for it. The story is pretty vague and I never actually cared about it, sadly (GoW win this round with flying colors!). However, this is too entertaining to let the fact that it has a thin story matter.

The enemies are almost completely of robotic origin, which fits well into these sterile environments of steel. The bosses gives me a slight flashback to Lost Planet 2. The sizes they come in are impressive and the feeling you get while blasting away at these mechanical giants, surrounded by hostile and friendly fire, orchestrated to hard, fast-paced techno is great.
The speculations were right – this game beats Gears of War when it comes to TPS-precision.

The graphics are crisp clean and reminds me of the Metal Gear Solid series and the Zone of Enders games. The game takes place in a colony between Earth and our moon, which reminds me even more of the latter. Big spaces and stunning environments, all wrapped in clean, perfect technology.

The music is great and fits really good into the gameplay. It’s pure techno which synchronizes with the pace of the game in a great way. The voice acting wasn’t so impressive. I think Burns is related to Cole (inFamous), Alex (Prototype) and Solid Snake, since they all seem to be suffocating on oat meal, judging by how they sound. The stereotypical marine attitude and bad one-liners doesn’t feel fresh and with a story that is too thin, the dialogue doesn’t feel convincing.

The trophies in games usually suck, but this time they actually used some imagination and gave us (a lot) more than just chapter- and difficulty-related trophies. My only wish is that there were more of them.

This game is an awesome thrill for the TPS mind, but alas, too short. The music synchronizes so well with the action and the controls are pin-point accurate. In spite of a weak story and a storyline that is completed in a few hours, I still like this game a lot and intend to replay it many times, much like I did with the games back in the days were the  NES and SNES were my main consoles. If you’re a fan of FPS/TPS, you should definitely try this one out.
Shinji Mikami did it again and proved to us that less can be a hell lot more.

Why the length (of the game) doesn’t count…

I want it all – Finally some interesting trophies you WANT to achieve 

Eenie, meenie, miny, moe – Every weapon is useful. None is redundant.

Pump up the volume – A soundtrack that couldn’t be more perfect 

Shmup + TPS – A great combination that gives the genre a rebirth


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October 2010
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