Review by 50centrulezz
"Something worthwhile in a flood of generic, boring shooters."
The video game world is now facing an interesting turn of events. From challenging, innovative games that left you with sore thumbs and a glorious feeling of achievement after you had beaten one them games, we are now getting boring, 5-6 hour shooter titles which are as challenging as breaking an egg. I won't lie to people, I am not an old guy who is been gaming for 20+ years but I am only a teenager who started playing video games 2 years after the first PlayStation came out but still, I have done my homework. I have played all the classics on the NES or SNES (and even beaten some of them) and I seriously get the point of hardcore gamers. There is very less innovation today in departments other than graphics. There are very few games with compelling stories or developed characters or even games that have fresh and new elements which make it interesting. Almost every new game I pick up, seems like just the one I finished yesterday. You have a gun in your hand and you have to shoot stuff and make it dead to save the world. You go through the motions like a zombie, the credits roll and no sense of achievement is felt.
But today I am reviewing a title which brings nothing new to the table but still seems fresh and enjoyable. The game is Vanquish. It's a third person shooter but it's not as boring as other shooters out there. You don't get the nagging feeling of turning off the console and to go do something that is actually fun. It has all the elements of most of the modern video games (a la the shiny graphics, poor story, under-developed characters and the 'shooter' thing) but it still is challenging and fun. It comes as a surprise to me that I actually finished the game seeing that these days I hardly get past the 50% mark because my brain is comatose from the boredom that is being induced by modern games.
I booted it up, played the tutorial and I lost all hope. All I thought to myself was 'not another cover based shooter!'. Then the game introduces the slow-motion and the boosters and I feel that it's going somewhere after all. Boy am I glad that I was correct. Enter the first mission and huge smile spreads over my face. Fast paced, adrenaline pumping shooting which is actually and gleefully fun!
The game is about an international conspiracy in which USA and Russia are involved and somehow the protagonist ends up on space ship filled with robots that look like aliens.. That's all I got from the storyline. It's the usual action game storyline with world on the brink of destruction or some other thing which should induce terror in everyone and get the player on the edge of his seat with excitement....blah blah blah. It doesn't even get my attention anymore. But to establish a setting, the main protagonist is Sam. A former sportsman who was injured and is helping the government research a specifically engineered suit which gives some extra abilities to the normal human. The suit's wearer can slow down time (actually it fastens the wearers reflexes hence making everything else feel slow) and has inbuilt jets which lets the player glide around the game world at high speed. Sounds like an over-done concept (suit giving power) ? Yeah. Is it ? No. Why ? Because it all actually fits together in the game's play style. Let me break it down.
Sounds -> 6/10
Right off the bat I would like to say, horrendous voice acting and very corny dialogs mar the sound department of this game. The voice actors hardly portray any real emotion or the dialog hardly steers away from how 'badass' the main characters are. It's sad because the other sounds are rather done pretty well. The battlefield sounds are nice, explosions are amazing. The game is full of them and they are rendered very well which adds to the whole experience. The suit's sound are also done nicely. The metal foot-steps of Sam, his jet blasters, etc are done very nicely. The gunfire sounds okay. Decent at best.
Graphics -> 8.5/10
The graphics are good. They are not mind-blowing but what takes the cake is the art design and the level design. The set pieces are massive and each level takes place in a different environment. It shows that the developers actually put in some effort to design the environments rather than making easy to clone objects with all environments that look alike. The levels are generally massive with interesting and futuristic design. Anyone who is even remotely interested in game designing will know what I mean. Though one thing I fail to understand is how can a space ship contain a massive metro city with it's own rail and air transport system. Then again, it's more of a plot question than a graphics question! The characters are well animated but the enemies are not. They all look alike though it's excusable that they are robots but still...there's not enough variety plus they seem a little 'inspired' from Halo.
Story -> 4/10
What story ? Oh you mean the international conspiracy one ? Oh no, I don't care about that thank you very much.
Gameplay --> 8/10
This is where the game shines. All it's elements come together very well to make an enjoyable experience. Yes, it's shooting and yes, it's cover based but that does not retract anything from the experience. The jet booster/slow-mo effects can be used to make good strategies and the gunplay is actually pretty decent but what makes the game feel fresh is the enemy and level design. As I previously mentioned, the levels are well designed but that's not only a visual merit. The levels are so designed that it has strategically placed cover areas. You can choose to go very near to the enemy and blast them with a shotgun or you may prefer to stay back and snipe your enemies. You also have your regular assortment of grenades or enemy machine gun nests which you can use to your advantage.
Though what stands apart in the gameplay department is the boss fights. They are long, somewhat difficult and always fun. Bosses can often be massive with huge amounts of health. There are no checkpoints in the middle of the fight so if you die, you'll have to begin the fight from the starting. To some, this may seem a bad thing but for me it's actually good as it gives you a sense of achievement after you have defeated a boss. Bosses also have a variety of attacks and are not just normal bad guys with 10x the health. All these come together to make a very good experience. It's not all run-cover-shoot though, you have also have a couple of rail-shooter sections which can be fun depending on your taste in games. I found them to be okay. The drawbacks ? Some points are deducted for the length of the game. It only took me 5 hours 34 minutes on my first play-through to beat the game! That's pretty bad considering this game was launched as a full-priced title. Also the game is very linear. There is no second path but I guess shooters are not big on the whole choice thing but I still would have preferred to have at least been able to have a different path to choose. Though that problem aside, the game's pretty good and fun. Not innovative or fresh but just pure, un-adulterated fun.
It's good to play a title like Vanquish once in a while. It won't make the video games hall of fame but it will certainly provide you with a weekend of explosive (literally!) fun. Buy or rent ? Rent. That would be the smart choice seeing as the game is only five and a half hours long.
Reviewer's Score: 7/10 | Originally Posted: 09/14/11
Game Release: Vanquish (US, 05/10/11)
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