Thursday, February 9, 2012


+++ Extremely smooth and intuitive gameplay
++ Wide variety of ways to dispatch your opponents
++ Wide variety of opponents to dispatch
++ Superb last boss fight
+ Designed to be speed-run and thus very replayable
+ Extremely Difficult
+ Excellent Graphics
+ References Starship Troopers Numerous Times
+ “Low Gravity” sections are fantastic
-- Extremely Short
- Environmental variety could be better
- Scarce handful of game modes/difficulties

Vanquish has, as previously said, possibly the best gameplay for a single player shooter ever produced. So then, why did it sell so poorly? One could obviously point out bad marketing or what have you, but really the appeal for a short, hard, replayable shooter is limited. That is, if there is no multiplayer component. Due to the nature of Vanquish’s combat I can’t critique that lacking as if you are any good at the game you can be largely invincible to any mortal’s shooting ability. Things move so fast in Vanquish it is very hard to hit them without the handy bullet time mechanic.

At the same time, managing how much of that you have left is integral to playing well at harder difficulties and especially the challenges, overheating can be and often is a death sentence in various areas throughout the game. It is this selfsame mechanic that can pose a challenge to new players that actually makes the game remarkably fair. A lot of shooters have a good deal of randomness, whether due to overcomplicated scripting or chancey AI behavior, but in Vanquish if you die it’s most likely your fault. There are quite a few one hit kills in the game but every one of them is foreseeable, even the first time you notice that giant “fricking laser” headed towards you.

Unlike Bayonetta, Platinum’s other stellar genre piece, there aren’t really any super bullshit QTEs in this game either. Those that are present are easily doable on the first try and most of the time if you fail them you only get penalized as opposed to dying horribly. If there were a clear ingame ranking system then your success would not oft be ruined by cheap deaths. As a result this game is fun to play over and over, despite the short running time.

Vanquish is a bit tricky to time appropriately, first clear could range from 4.5-7 hours and later clears could be as short as 45 minutes. Such is the nature of a game built with speedrunning in mind. The challenges could take you anywhere from ten to several dozen hours, if the internet is any judge, though I suppose I was one of the “lucky” ones in that regard. The main reason why the length is a bit of a downer is thinking about what the game could have done with 5 more hours. Instead of being a masterpiece it’s simply an excellent shooter that could possibly have a promising future, despite atrocious sales the first go-around.

Final Score: 8.5/10

Challenge Musings

Challenges are basically wave based survival modes, but instead of nearly infinite waves there’s just 5 and they’re often absurd relative to whatever you’ve faced in the actual game. Challenge 6 is the height of this insanity and naturally the one most sane people simply aren’t capable of doing. Personally I had a lot of trouble with the very first challenge (I did the first 5 blind) since I just wasn’t used to fighting the “Bogey” boss with any other intrusions and very little support. I did adapt, and beat challenges 2, 3, and 5 on the first or second try.

Challenge 4 is the first weirdly difficult challenge. I thought it was somewhat luck based at the time; however after clearing it and 6 I’ve come to understand that there were other methods I could have used to limit luck’s role. Still it only took 2 tries of getting to the final wave, though I did have to plan out a method for beating it and maybe got a little bit lucky myself on only spending an hour and a half there.

And on to 6, that enormous pain in the ass that’s just so satisfying. I do not consider myself a masochist but I suppose if I had taken more than 5 or so hours on it I would have trouble denying that. Challenge 6 consists of no less than 3 bosses, 7 minibosses, and several dozen regular enemies any one of which can kill you in at most a couple of hits. It takes at least roughly 20 minutes to clear safely the first time and every time you fail you have to start all the way from the beginning. By the end of this journey you’ve memorized every enemy’s spawn location and initial behavior and are confident that you might be able to beat God Hard only dying say, 400 times.

Much better Challenge 6 Video: Can’t criticize this one much, I suppose if I played exactly the way he did I could cut my time down to 7-8 mins, but damn that would take forever.

Prior to starting Challenge 6 I read this thread, didn’t watch any vids or anything. Oddly, I think the videos would have made me worse aside from introducing the idea of using the LFE gun as much as possible, perhaps little scraps of information are more useful than everything all at once.

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