PC gamers rejoice as you have been blessed with a shiny new port from Platinum Games, Vanquish. Originally released on consoles back in 2010, Vanquish is about Russian terrorists that have attacked San Francisco from a space station called "The Station," so original. In response, the US counterattacks to prevent any further acts. Among the troops is our protagonist, Sam Gideon. Sam works for DARPA, which has been building advanced weaponry and suits. On this mission Sam is outfitted with one of these suits to test it out while covertly seeking the creator of The Station, and, funny enough, also the creator of the suit he is wearing. This all happens within the opening credits and almost feels like you are watching a movie instead of playing a game. Not necessarily a bad thing, but it would be nice to take part in the action from the start.
After several minutes of suit tutorial and story time you finally get to take part in some of the action. When I say action I mean way over-the-top theatrics. Oversized weaponry, countless waves of varying enemies, large-scale environments, towering bosses, and, let's not forget, the cheesy dialog. For example, Sam's arsenal consists of a pistol, assault rifle, shotgun, rocket launcher, sniper rifle, disc thrower, laser gun, energy gun, grenades, EMPs, and more. If that isn't enough, Sam's suit allows him to also glide on his knees at blazing speed and transition into a vault backflip off the faces of his foes. Toss in a slow motion bullet-time effect and you are nearly unstoppable. At times it is a little much and borderline ridiculous, but it's also very satisfying. The controls are very smooth, especially when performing the knee slide and converting to foot face vault maneuver. It has this effect of being fast-paced but slow and smooth enough for you to be able to make precise attacks. Along the way there are several weapon caches that either have existing ammo for the weapons you have or new toys to play with. Most of the time when presented with a new weapon type it is intentional and shouldn't be ignored, though I haven't run into a scenario where it was imperative. In most cases I found myself wanting to carry the same set of weapons, not because I was comfortable or unwilling to shake things up but because of the upgrade system. While mowing down your enemies through each chapter of the game you are typically rewarded with an upgrade. When the upgrade is found on the battlefield and picked up it will apply an increase of sorts to the currently equipped weapon. For me, it was typically the assault rifle. The upgrades have varying attributes but given enough upgrades on the same weapon each time you will start to notice you can slice through the enemies like butter. You can obviously balance the upgrades between all weaponry, however I chose to stack and ultimately isolated my weaponry choice in the heat of battle. Again, not a bad thing as any of the weapon choices hold their own even if you are only using the base unit. It seems as though the game is very forgiving in potential "bad" choices made throughout your play-through.
The game is split into several acts, but they are very short. Each area is unique and very detailed including the surrounding area. The scale of the environments is huge, yet progression through them feels very linear and confined to certain areas. Working through them is quite boring as well. Enter zone, queue wave of enemies, kill waves of enemies, rinse and repeat, end with a random boss encounter that is typically very large. In addition each act is riddled with cheesy cutscenes. While entertaining it feels that for every minute of gameplay there is double, nearly triple, the amount of cinematics. For someone like myself that doesn't have a decent amount of time to play in huge chunks of time that is okay. I don't necessarily have a lot of time to play through a 10-20 minute chapter, so having a lot of stopping points is great. Others may feel that it is annoying, especially since there isn't much meat on the plot bone.
Vanquish wasn't what I envisioned when seeing the trailers and reading the hype surrounding it. I think there is a fan base for these types of games and even for its creator Shinji Mikami, the creator of Resident Evil and director of The Evil Within. This game is far from those two games. It reminds me of going to the movies or the bowling alley and playing an over-the-top, action-based arcade game until I ran out of quarters 15 minutes later. The arcades were there to fill a void for a few minutes of time, not to entertain for several hours. Granted the style of game fits the bill for the amount of time I have to play these games but if you are looking to sink your teeth into a game to get lost in for several hours, maybe even days, this may not be for you.
Final Rating: 70% - A beautiful port vanquished by a lack of content.