Vanquish Reader Review
This Japanese third person shooter has a considerable pedigree and arrived off the back of some glowing preview showings. I obtained it for the bargain price of £27 from Shopto on release. I wonder if they were hoping that the slightly lower price point might tempt a few more people to take a chance on this new franchise.
The game begins with a rather stilted tutorial which does an adequate job of introducing you to your suit and its capabilities. Afterwards you get to watch a moonraker style assault on a truly massive space station - which will be the setting for the rest of the game.
At first the action was a little overwhelming. Battles seemed to be taking place all over the screen and I found it a little difficult to pick out the enemies. Once you acclimatise to the rather frantic pace and metallic colour hues the game really begins to shine. Your suit allows you to boost rapidly across the terrain or slow down time to your advantage. This helps with picking off head shots or shooting down enemy offensive missiles. Rather stupidly I didnít realise until very late in the game that it was possible to boost and shoot at the same time so I deprived myself of a fair amount of fun.
Wisely the developers realised that a combination of rapid boosting and an overly powerful melee attack would have been game-breakingly powerful. Melee attacks are therefore limited to one at a time. Using the attack overloads your suit and leaves you unable to boost or slow time until it recharges. During these periods the humble drones are perfectly capable of taking you down with melee attacks of their own and I died many times in those situations due to injudicious use of the melee attack.
The enemy roster is gradually introduced. Some of the enemy character design is quite spectacular visually. Much fun can be had with some of the mid range robots targetting specific areas and gradually crippling them before finishing them off with a melee attack. Such behaviour is even rewarded with an achievement. The bosses are massive in size and pose an appropriate challenge. Rarely does the game become frustrating though and the difficulty of the default normal level is well judged.
One or two of the mission specific achievements were rather difficult to accomplish for reasons that felt due to the design rather than a lack of skill, which was a little frustrating. Generally speaking though the achievements helped point you towards experimenting with different tactics or plans for taking down the enemies which was a suitable implementation of the feature.
In the background, all of your efforts are being monitored and scored. There is a score attack element which those that are that way inclined will no doubt find quite compulsive, along with leaderboards allowing you to compare your efforts with your peers.
There was a typical selection of weapons, sniper rifles, assault rifles, shotguns, rocket launchers. Some of the more esoteric weapons seemed a little superfluous and perhaps underpowered. (perhaps that was because I didnít spend much time powering them up!) The multiple shot homing weapon in theory sounds quite good fun but it hardly seemed to do any damage at all. The bubble shooting gun was effective at close range only and the disc shooter just seemed too unpredictable to be of any great use. Upgrades were possible to the capacity, power and reloading times of these weapons a la resident evil but it was not possible to upgrade them all in one playthrough so choices had to be made to decide which weapons you wanted to specialise in. I was disappointed with the lack of upgrade options for the suit or your abilities.
The main character was fun to play. He reminded me a little of Christian Slater in his 90ís pomp. The tech support as ever was provided by a cute female in a short skirt. The director seemed to have a penchant for shooting her scenes from floor level so we got a good look.
The game length was fine in my view. It didnít outstay its welcome.
In Summary I found this to be a superb third person shooter. Its pace and visual style sets it apart from other shooters of this type. I hope it gets a sequel and within that they can add some more depth or an upgrade tree to the suit and its abilities.