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Vanquish (PC) artwork

Vanquish (PC) review

"Vanquish comes to PC to strike its revengeance at being a top seller, and it might just do it this time."

Seven whole years have passed since developer Platinum Games and publisher Sega released Vanquish on the PS3 and Xbox 360. In all that time, no one ever bothered porting it to PC. Chalk that tragedy up to the console edition's poor sales, which were the victim of bad timing and the saturated third-person shooter market at the time, or perhaps blame Platinum's apparent low sales curse (dating as far back as the Clover era, when consumers largely ignored sensational games like Okami). In any event, it took until 2017 for Shinji Mikami's take on the genre to finally come to the PC platform. There, one hopes it will find a new life. It certainly deserves one, because it's a terrific little game.

The story opens like a typical Michael Bay Action Movie (TM). In the far future, the US is suddenly attacked by a satellite laser resonance thing (the game doesn't make any coherent attempt to provide clarification on its exact nature). Before long, Russia pipes up to take credit for the attack, demanding that US forces surrender totally within short order or else face severe consequences. There's also an engineer that needs rescuing, in case you were hoping for more than one problem. As one of DARPA's agents who is testing out a new type of combat suit, your mission is to help the US to fight back against Russia and also to assist in the rescue of the captive.

At first, the ensuing gameplay feels like it could have been ripped from any standard third-person shooter, but there are a few wrinkles that add interesting complexity to the mix. It's true that you can take cover and use four swappable weapons and several varieties of grenade to eliminate the opposition. There's also a regenerating health meter. But that's only the start. You also have rocket boots, which you can utilize to quickly jet through areas.

Your remarkable mobility makes it easy to track down NPCs, who you can rescue to receive helpful rewards such as ammunition. You can also dodge roll, which seems innocuous enough but becomes devilishly useful when you follow that up with "AR Mode" (think bullet time, or "witch time" if you've played Bayonetta). AR mode also can activate when your health drops to dangerously low levels, which makes getting out of sticky situations less of a hassle. You can even use your generally useless cigarettes as a distraction to catch the enemy units off-guard. One assumes this was a dig at Metal Gear Solid.

Weapons range from handguns to assault rifles, sniper rifles and shotguns. There are some weird ones too, like the Lock-On Laser launcher, LFE launcher, and disc launcher. You can upgrade each weapon so it carries more ammo, deals additional damage, has secondary effects or whatever, depending on the number of total upgrades applied.

Boss fights offer the sort of crazed activity you might expect from a typical "bullet hell" shooter. And of course, you'll need to clear QTEs to finish off tough opponents. As in other Platinum titles, you'll also find an addictive scoring system. It's purely there as a means to challenge yourself and friends. Points are added or deducted depending on how well you did. If you're into leaderboards, that's well worth your while. Otherwise, there's not much point; no unlockables are tied to your performance, even if you show off some superior skills. Likewise, the statuettes you find littered around the stages fail to offer any rewards beyond an achievement.

The good news is that Vanquish is both fun and challenging, and you can choose a casual mode if you're not as skilled is ideal. There's also a God Hard option, in case your prowess leans in the opposite direction. Good luck with that.

As a port, Vanquish on PC isn't too shabby. There are no insane additions (such as multi-player cooperative play or online battle modes) of the sort you might find in a more ambitious port, but the resolution bump is decent and the game finally plays at a 60 FPS rate that wasn't possible on the prior console editions. Unfortunately, the featured cutscenes were recorded as video clips. Their video quality is slightly improved here, but you're still likely to spot framerate hiccups as you view them. And because the team responsible for the port didn't spend too much time getting unnecessarily fancy, textures and shadowing throughout the game have improved only slightly. With that said, the net result still plays and looks better than older editions ever did, even with low settings in place if you play on an older rig.

At $20, Vanquish is well worth the asking price for anyone who seeks a great thid-person shooter experience. With a little luck, perhaps the game will finally attain decent sales numbers and maybe even lead to release on current-gen consoles, so even more players will discover what they missed back in the day. One can but dream...


EricRPG's avatar
Freelance review by Eric Kelly (June 05, 2017)

Eric Kelly likes writing about RPGs, reading non-fiction (usually academic in nature), watching anime, and listening to mostly video game music. So a total nerd.

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Nightfire posted June 12, 2017:

"Revengeance" is not a word. It will never be a word. I don't care that Kojima & Co. used it for the title of that stupid Metal Gear game. Here is the word you're looking for. It is a concise substitute that functions fine on its own.

Unless, of course you were trying to make a reference to that Metal Gear game, in which case the reference was so veiled that I didn't get it.

This was otherwise a perfectly fine article in every other way.

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