Ever watched a movie that you have never heard of and was just blown away with how good it was, even though it had no hype whatsoever. Vanquish is a lot like that.
I had no idea what to expect when I popped the disc in, but was immediately sucked into the stunning world that Resident Evil creator, Shinki Mikami created. To describe this third person shooter in a sentence, Id say its like Gears of war on Steroids.
The story itself is largely forgettable, but I actually prefer it that way, because I could care less about the revisit to the Cold war scenario that was just an excuse to blow stuff up. Russians attack America, and destroy San Francisco. America responds and throws you in as Sam Gideon, a sarcastic hero who has a mettalic performance enhancing suit of some sort (picture the suits that the Wayans brother and that dude from Step Up wore in the last GI Joe, or the one that Raiden wears in Metal Gear Solid 4 and you have some idea) The basic idea is taken from Modern warfare 2 methinks.
The suit itself is a great addition to the action as it allows you to blast around a stage at ridiculous speeds. Very helpful when you're trying to flank an enemy or even when you are doing a speed run. Which is perhaps this games only downfall - the campaign itself is quite short (I completed it in about five hours) but this itself is a minor issue in an otherwise unforgettable game.
The graphics play out well, with lots of explosions and particles blowing up all around you. This is complemented by a strong audio component that sets the pace with a decent techno soundtrack (think of the first time you played wipeout and realised how well the soundtrack fits)
The weapons are standardised somewhat, as you have an assault rifle, heavy machine gun, sniper rifle and shotgun.. but as you play you pick up weapons that have lock-on lazers, disks, rockets and low frequency pulses that can go through objects. The best part about the weapons is that all can be upgraded (either when an enemy drops a green cube at random points in the game) or when you pick up the same weapon when you have full ammo. These upgrades increase ammo capacity as well as power, and this is a tangible upgrade that can be felt as you play through the game. This had to be the most addictive part of the game as it reminded me of Ratchet and Clank. I guess I just love levelling up. You can carry three weapons at a time so its good to mix and match for the different portions in the game. I loved the sniper rifle, so that was my staple.
I mentioned at the start that this game is like Gears of war on steroids, and this is evident from both the cover system, as well as the way you select weapons (using the d-pad ) The game itself can get a little difficult, but never in a way thats cheap. I always felt that I could do better and it helped me push through. There are moments when a single shot from an enemy would kill you, but these are structured well and feels like a slap to the face. Kinda like when rafiki hit Simba with the staff. You can either learn from it, or keep dying.
In many ways, this game reminds me of the movie Pineapple express. i never heard of it until the day I went to wacth it, and I left the cinema thoroughly entertained. It ended up being my sleeper hit of the year. Vanquish is without a doubt my sleeper hit for this year.
9 out 10