So far, 2011 has pretty good as far as modern gaming goes, as I've been able to play some great stuff that was released within the last year or so. One of the games I've had the pleasure of playing has been Vanquish. Now one thing I noticed the first time I played Vanquish were the similarities it shared with another great 360 shooter, Gears of War, but those similarities are very few and when after spending quality time with Vanquish, a gamer can definitely appreciate it not only as it's own game, but as a pretty good game.
Vanquish takes a basic 80s movie premise and gives it a major sci fi shot in the arm. Basically, a group of Russian nationals destroy San Francisco and threaten to do the same to New York if the U.S. government doesn't surrender. Of course, The USA wasn't going down without a fight, so a unit of soldiers was sent in with a researcher from DARPA named Sam Gideon who is armed with the ARS(Augmented Reaction Suit) which is gives Sam extremely heightened movement on the battlefield. Sam has been charged with the rescue of a scientist, Dr. Francois Candide, who was captured by Russian Star.
On the Surface, Vanquish feels, at least in basic mechanics to Gears of War. That isn't a bad thing since Gears has been for a long time, the pinnacle of third person shooters. You'll find a lot of the best parts of Gears sprinkled throughout Vanquish, from the cover and blind fire mechanics to the beautiful sniper rifle play, it's all here. That's where the similarities end though. Where Gears is tense, but methodical, Vanquish is frantic, blistering, it almost reminds me of a bullet hell shooter (and we know how much I like bullet hell shooters). switching weapons is as easy as pressing a direction on the d pad, and dropping the action into a slow motion mode for a few seconds is as easy as pressing a button. The folks at Platinum Games have done a wonderful job with the gameplay, with my only issue being the occasional (very rare) camera hiccup.
Vanquish has proven that fresh ideas and gameplay can breathe new life into a well worn genre. Platinum Games has proven that they have only gotten better as a development house since their days as a part of Capcom's Clover Studio. The bar for great shooters has been reset, and with Gears of War 3 coming out later this year, it'll be interesting to see how Epic responds to the challenge.
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