10 years on can Vanquish recapture the magic it originally had with audiences? Find out in our Vanquish Review!

Release Date October 19, 2010/February 18, 2020
Genre Action/Third-Person Shooter
Platforms PC/PS3/PS4/X360/XBO
Developer PlatinumGames
Price $24.99 USD (2020)
ESRB Rating Mature
Players 1 Player


At first glance, Vanquish looks like every other third-person shooter on the market since around 2006. Upon closer inspection, you’ll find a fast-paced hectic, experience that is equally about style as it is about shooting up the enemies. This is a game that quickly became a cult-classic and 10 years later, it’s just as fun as it was then!

Vanquish takes place on an orbital space station called Providence. In typical fashion, this space station has been taken over by a Russian extremist group known as the Order of the Russian Star. The station is weaponized by the extremists and turned on San Francisco. The United States fights back against the extremists to stop them from attacking NYC. The player plays as DARPA researcher Sam Gideon. Sam comes equipped with the awesome ARS battle suit.

Vanquish Review
Vanquish features some great-looking set-pieces to balance out the abundance of gray.

The story ends up being a bit two-pronged with Sam being having two very different motivations depending on who’s asking. Sam is accompanying the military to gather Intel on the suit’s performance on the field on an official basis. Secretly though, Sam is attempting to locate the captive Professor Candide, creator of the energy system that powers the space station and the ARS suit. It’s a pretty basic story, but it’s enough to keep you invested for the short 5 hours you’ll be playing it. There is a Challenge Mode to complete after you do get through it to add some extra value.

Gameplay is where Vanquish really shines. This is a game that didn’t reinvent the wheel essentially, but it did add enough variety to make it stand out among other shooters out there. Sam will come across various weapon types like shotguns, rocket launchers, a weapon that fires through walls, a disc launcher, and many more. The game tends to give you the weapons that work best in each situation that you encounter through pickups strewn about through the map, but you can take your favourite weapon from area to area if you’d prefer doing it that way.

There is an upgrade system in place for weapons in which enemies will sometimes drop an upgrade cube which will upgrade whatever weapon Sam is holding (he can hold 3 weapons and 2 grenade types at a time). This promotes weapon management as you may want to upgrade a certain weapon before another. Each weapon maxes out at 10 upgrade points and enhances ammo capacity and attack power. Picking up the same weapon when you already have full ammo will put a mark about the weapon, do this three times and you’ll get a full upgrade point.

Vanquish Review
Sliding into a time-freeze headshot has to be one of the most fulfilling things to do in all of gaming.

Like most games that were coming out in the Xbox 360/PS3 era, this game does have a responsive cover system in place. It’s a great system that never gave me even the slightest bit of trouble even coming out of the cool knee slide mechanic that jets you around the map super-fast. You can slide on your knees until the energy bar has been depleted to get yourself to cover or to flank enemies from a different position. This is also helpful to finish levels as quickly as possible to achieve a better ranking. You can even slow down time in AR mode to get a few quick headshots in. The balance between speeding around the map or slowing down time is imperative to staying alive as the enemies in Vanquish are pretty ruthless.

The boss battles are equally as trying at times with most of the battles being one-hit kills. Vanquish really gives you the opportunity to get better at each battle without feeling like it’s too punishing. Each battle consists of a robotic enemy that you need to take down by targeting weak points until a core becomes available to shoot at and destroy. Once that is destroyed, you’ve won the battle and can go on to the next area. These were some of the high points of Vanquish for me and I actually really enjoyed figuring out how to get shots in on some of these behemoths without getting killed. 

Vanquish Review
A snapshot of the AR interface.

The visuals weren’t great even when this game came out in 2010 and they haven’t gotten much better over the years as everything looks pretty blurry and devoid of a lot of detail in the desolate battlefield. The set-pieces were pretty good to look at and thought some of the destruction that goes on around you really helped to make up for the generally colourless atmosphere. The 2020 remaster includes 4K visuals at 60 FPS which also helps, but I was still less than impressed with the whole setting of the game. I will say that I also ran into a crash in the middle of a mission that made me have to restart the game.

Vanquish is very much the product of a bygone era. The 360/PS3 era produced a lot of games that took chance and PlatinumGames was one of the developers that took that to heart and added some cool mechanics to what can be a very methodic genre. It’s a short game and one where the setting isn’t going to wow you, but the gameplay is solid and challenging enough to keep you invested for the entire time. 

Pros Cons
Knee-slide Short campaign
Great boss fights Little replay value
Fun and challenging gameplay Generic visuals


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