Platform: Xbox 360
Category: First Person Shooter
Developer: Platinum Games Inc.
In-Game Dolby Digital
I enjoyed the Xbox LIVE demo of Sega’s latest FPS action shooter Vanquish, so when I received my review copy I was excited to see how the final version turned out. Well, after some extended playtime I have to say that I fully enjoyed this game and kudos to Sega for releasing it, as it is quite a ride indeed.
Vanquish has a great overall visual experience with plenty of great detail as it manages to keep in line with the science fiction theme of the futuristic Earth it takes place. The advanced technology used throughout the game, from the robotic limbs that Lt. Colonel Burns has on his body to the robot armies that you combat, are very cool. Of course the Augmented Reaction Suit (ARS) that the main character Sam Gideon wears aids in the overall vision of a futuristic and robotic world that could easily become a reality one day.
The main characters Lt. Colonel Burns, Sam Gideon, Elena Ivanova, Dr. Francois Candide, President Elizabeth Winters, and Victor Zaitsev have all distinct character qualities that set them apart from the rest of the game’s supporting cast of characters. I do have to note that President Elizabeth Winters looks a lot like Hilary Clinton and it made me wonder if it happened to be a coincidence or not.
The supporting cast consists mainly of enemy troops, both human and robotic, which for the most part seem to be very similar in how they look and move; however, as you progress through the game you do get to see a larger variety of these basic troops with different weapons and abilities. Of course, as this is a Platinum Games title, there are some amazing bosses that you have to fight with some being as small as a tank when compared to the much larger enemies that reach up to heights of a large skyscraper. All in all the bosses are very impressive indeed.
In terms of the audio, I found that the voice acting was very good. The superb voice cast is led by voice actor Gideon Emery, who voices Sam Gideon. Gideon Emery has done a lot of voice work for several video games and cartoons including Mass Effect 2, Assassins Creed 2, Halo Wars, and he also does several voices on Star Wars: The Clone Wars television series. With the rest of the voice cast performing their characters so well it is no surprise that the interactions between them carry a good portion of the story and it creates the atmosphere of war very well. Some might comment that the dialogue might be a bit corny at times, but this dialogue in my opinion aids in creating the relationships between the characters, especially between Sam and Lt. Colonel Burns as they fought together.
The sound effects throughout the game include a large variety considering the environments and the war torn setting that Vanquish takes place. Alarms ring in your ears indicating incoming missiles or nearby grenades, and don’t forget about spectacular sounding explosions when some of the robot baddies explode into smithereens. Finally, the music throughout the game aids in setting the mood and atmosphere so well that you barely notice the music which I believe is a true testament as to how well everything meshes together with the music, sound effects, and voice acting blending into one great audio experience.
Vanquish takes place on the Providence Space Colony, home of many American citizens after the population of Earth reaches over 10 billion. With such a large population resources such as food and energy became scarce forcing the hopes of America into space; however, the jealous nature of humanity has made the Space Colony a target for the enemies of America.
Enter the Order of the Russian Star, a faction of the Russian Military who launches a surprise attack on the colony and uses the colony’s microwave energy array to destroy the majority of San Francisco and many of its citizens. This attack is basically The Order’s declaration of war and they demand of unconditional surrender or New York City will receive the same fate as San Francisco. Of course this demand results in an outright refusal from the President. Shortly after, the President orders a strike team dubbed Bravo Company, which is lead by decorated war hero Lt. Colonel Robert Burns, to solve this problem. Along for the ride is Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) researcher Sam Gideon. Sam is your playable character and he has two prototypes at his command, the Augumented Reaction Suit (ARS) Battle Suit System and the Battlefield Logic Adaptable Electronic (BLADE) Weapons System.
The ARS suit is an advanced piece of technology that is stronger than steel with barely any weight to it. It also allows Sam to boost at incredible speeds for short periods of time. The suit can also take some serious punishment that would result in any normal human being crushed and killed immediately. The BLADE Weapons System is a weapon that can take on up to three different shapes allowing Sam to carry weapons of various sizes like Assault Rifles, Shotguns, Rocket Launchers, Sniper Rifles, etc. A great feature of the BLADE is that you are able to scan weapon configurations allowing you to replicate different weapon designs as you need them in the field for any combat situation that you may run into.
These two pieces of equipment allow Sam to perform some pretty remarkable feats throughout the game. Normally, to take down some of The Order’s heavier machines, you would need a few tanks and perhaps some air support; however, with the ability to carry his own personal armory and being just as tough, if not tougher than tanks themselves, and combined with his mobility, Sam is basically one “Mighty Mouse” when compared to some of his enemies.
Aside from the boost that ARS is equipped with, it is also has AR Mode which is designed to trace, anticipate, and enhance his movements. AR Mode is activated when Sam is in a life or death situation which raises his synaptic activity and boosts his instincts to the point where everything seems to slow down around him. This allows him the ability to dodge missiles and bullets along with gaining some increased pain resistance. All of this helps to give you plenty of time to neutralize threats and/or to find some cover to avoid your own demise.
AR Mode can also be manually initialized when boosting, evading, or finding cover, which comes in handy when you need to quickly take out an enemy or two with the heightened senses AR Mode activates. To be honest, I rarely used the manual AR mode as I didn’t find too many situations where I could use it effectively, but I think that has to do with my style of gameplay when it comes to first person shooters versus the actual implementation of the feature.
Aside from the ARS Suit’s capabilities, Vanquish plays like a typical first person shooter without straying too much from what has made this genre a success. This, for the most part, is not a problem because Platinum Games have done something new with the ARS Suit and the BLADE Weapons System to give a bit of distinction to the title. It should be noted however that Vanquish is a bit friendly to new players to the genre with a difficulty setting called Casual Auto. This setting incorporates automatic targeting for players who may not be to familiar with FPS games or who are very casual gamers. For those with experience however, this setting will obviously be a walk in the park.
The high points of combat throughout the game would have to be the unique boss bottles where you battle spider-robots, who then transform into a much more formidable enemy. There is another boss that starts off as a huge flying carrier, which then transforms into a large cannon that implants itself on the surface of the station. Sam, working with Bravo Company, has to work his way inside of the cannon to disable it from the inside. I found the boss battles a formidable challenge as well as a work of art given the designs of each one.
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