Review: Vanquish (10th Anniversary Edition) (PS4)

Platforms:

  • PlayStation 4
  • Xbox One
  • PC

Platform/Hardware Used:

  • PSN Download
  • PS4 Pro
  • HDTV

Extras:

  • DualShock 4 Required (1)
  • Move None
Title: Vanquish (10th Anniversary Edition)
Format: Blu-ray Disc / PSN (18.56 GB)
Release Date: February 18, 2020
Publisher: Sega
Developer: Platinum Games
Original MSRP: 10th Anniversary Bundle-digital and retail $39.99 (USD), Vanquish alone-digital only $24.99 (USD)
ESRB Rating: M
A code for the game was provided by the publisher for review purposes.
PS Nation Review Policy

Gameplay:
Vanquish is an action third-person shooter. It was well received by fans and critics when it was released on the PS3 back in 2010. If you loved Vanquish on the PS3, stop reading now and go buy it on the PS4; it’s the same game but with better visuals and framerate. The remaster manages to hit 4K resolution and 60 FPS.

If you are like me and somehow never got around to playing Vanquish, let me tell you a little bit about the game. Almost immediately, Vanquish felt oddly familiar to Kojima’s Metal Gear Solid games. The beginning cutscenes focus on American politics and its military. The main character smokes at weird times and almost for dramatic effect. There is also a picture of the person talking to you in the corner of the screen. Finally, there is a barrage of bad and sometimes cringe worthy one-liners.

I will admit I struggled to follow the story beyond “Russians are bad and kill them before they kill more Americans”. I even went back and watched the beginning cutscenes after beating the game and they still made no sense to me. While I may have a lot of questions about the story and lore of Vanquish, I still highly recommend it.

Vanquish is like a summer blockbuster hit-try not to think about it too hard and just allow yourself to enjoy the action. You play as Sam Gideon, DARPA agent and test pilot of their Augmented Reaction Suit.

While a fast action shooter, it is also a cover based shooter. It is really easy to snap into and out of cover. Standing still with no cover is a quick way to die.

At the end of each mission is a scoring system. One of the metrics that the game tracks is how much time the player spent in cover. This caught me off guard after the first mission. I didn’t use the cover system at all because I was so caught up in the other gameplay mechanics that the tutorial emphasizes, which are slide boosting and slow motion (or bullet time).

Sliding around on my knees and then slowing down just long enough to blast an enemy in the face as I pass bye is very satisfying.

At first I was a little confused about what was the “correct way” to play the game. Movement and cover are opposite game play styles. However, I quickly fell into a balance between the two mechanics, boosting around enemies and into cover right as my meter ran out and using cover to take out more enemies while it recharged.

All larger enemies have weak points, and some enemies are very large. To get into a good position, I often had to boost into place. Wanting to make the most of this opportunity, I frequently would go into slow motion, which didn’t seem to affect the firing rate of my weapon, and unload everything I had until the meter ran out. There are also more powerful weapons that consume the boost meter instead of ammunition, another thing to balance in my careful dance of mayhem and destruction.

During the course of the campaign, the player can level up their guns so they can hold more ammo in each clip and do more damage. It would have been nice if the boost meter had also increased throughout the game. It occasionally felt like the meter was running out just a little too quickly and took too long to fully recharge. Why use my powerful, and only, melee attack when it completely drains my boost meter? The in-game story reason for the limited boost meter is to keep the suit from overheating, but they break that logic in a big way towards the end of the game.

My only real complaint is that some of my deaths felt cheap. There are a few times when, if I didn’t start boosting right when a cutscene ended, I would be crushed by a large piece of debris. After taking back control of Sam and as he entered a new environment, my first thought was to take in the lay of the land. I didn’t die because I wasn’t good enough. There was no way for me to know that I had to start boosting right away without prior knowledge.

There was also a mini-boss that unleashed a powerful burst of energy as he died. I ignored the warning signs that he was going to blow the first time. OK, my bad. After re-doing the whole boss fight, I boosted away and was still killed. I tried again and stayed further away from the enemy towards the end of the fight and boosted as far away as I could and still died. I ended up hiding behind a pillar right next to the mini boss when he blew and completed the mission. It wasn’t just the annoyance of having to do the whole fight over again each time, after I completed the mission and it calculated my score, it flaunted the number of my deaths in front of me.

Visuals:
Vanquish is a remaster and not a remake. While the game runs in 4K, it doesn’t go much further. The textures and models aren’t bad but are dated.

More importantly, in my opinion, a fast paced shooter must run smoothly. The frame rate didn’t stutter when going into or out of a boost slide or time slow down. Many people loved Vanquish as a great game at 30 FPS, but it feels so good to play at 60 FPS.

Audio:
The roar of the rockets on my suit as I slid around and the firing of my machine gun covered a lot of the sound track. In the silence between firing and acquiring a new target, there was an electronic hype beating in the background, urging me on my path of destruction.

Online/Multiplayer:
This game is single-player only with no online component

Conclusion:
Vanquish is a great summer popcorn flick of an action shooter. It was a great game on the PS3 and looks and feels even better on the PS4. The game came out in 2010 so it’s easy to look past the few areas that are slightly dated.

Vanquish is a blast from start to finish that everyone should play.

Score:
8.0

* All screenshots used in this review were taken directly from the game using the Share functionality on the PlayStation 4.

Written by Matt Engelbart

Matt Engelbart

I love all things video games. When I am not gaming I am watching the Kansas City Chiefs and Royals, BBQing, and reading.

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