Tuesday, February 15, 2022

Vanquish (PS3, 2010)


Fantastic Sega game here that really came out of nowhere. It's like Gears of War except fast-paced, and it's a blast. Surprised this never got any kind of a sequel, or even that much notoriety for that matter.

The game begins with an ORBITAL DEATH RAY taking aim at Earth. Who are the ad wizards who built this one? What an idiotic idea. Never build something like this, humans. Especially if it can be hacked-into.

It blasts San Francisco off the face of the planet. This act of barbarism is responded to by...

...President Not-Hillary (this game started development in 2007*) who vows vengeance against the terrorists who did it.

* - In 2007 pretty much everyone thought Hillary would be the next president, as Obama was a distant second in polls. Sorta like 2016. Irony is, Hillary beat Obama in the popular vote in 2008's primary, then did the same thing in 2016's general election. Not sure anybody else has been as politically successful without actually winning. With the primary delegate system the way it is, Obama was able to beat her in 2008 without winning the popular vote, due to having a greater delegate lead at the end. Course, the delegate system exists for a reason, and I'd wager most people were happier with that result at the time anyway.

Point is, Vanquish was made at a time when pretty much all oddsmakers had her pegged as the next president.

The game begins, as you and your special forces comrades infiltrate the orbital satellite to wrest it from the terrorists. It's actually a massive station with biomes and cities on it, with the death ray only one component of the thing.

There's a lot of cover-shooting in this game, like aforementioned Gears. However you can also zip around and flank enemies and generally have a blast. No need to stay in cover at penalty of being shredded, like so many other games of this type.

This game makes with the plentiful trophies. You get 'em for all kinds of stuff. This is how most (bronze) trophies should be used IMO, just adding some extra fun to the game. Of course there should always be a few tough ones (silvers and golds) that make the platinum an achievement.

Not just content with home runs, I am now HOME RUN GOD.

Some of the early levels are definitely inspired by Normandy, with your team up against walls of firepower set up by the terrorists.

The variety of weapons in this game is good too. You've got every weapon type you can think of for this kind of game. I tended to lean heavily on the Laser Cannon, which never runs out of ammo. It also looks and sounds just like the main heat ray cannon on top of the ships in the original War of the Worlds movie, which I'm sure is on purpose.

The LFE Gun is cool and not something you see very often. It fires one large energy ball that decimates everything in the area around where it hits a solid object (and also damages things it passes through). It's vaguely like the Fire Gun in Contra which also fired highly-damaging spheres like this.

The bosses in this game are trippy, like this guy who collapses and re-forms. They're all pretty easy though, so I thought a lot of them were just mini-bosses. The tough bosses don't start until the endgame.

Staying in cover and sticking/moving is the key to victory. Staying in one spot isn't optimal, so it's best to zip from cover to cover.

The first actual-tough boss is Crystal Viper, which I was erroneously informed was the final boss. Nope, not quite, there's still like 20% of the game to go. This guy is basically a terminator and bounces lasers off his body, forcing you to resort to ballistics. ...which isn't very terminator-like actually, that's like the opposite of a terminator.

The game gets significantly better-looking when you reach the park. This is still on the orbital station. An orbital station like this that can support so much life is a wonder of engineering...and a good hedge against a meteor obliterating us. Unless the meteor goes through the orbital station to get to Earth. That'd take some pretty abysmal luck though.

Sorta resembles Endor here. The Disk Launcher is another fun weapon that lets you fire sharp discs at your foes. They ricochet off of objects which makes for an interesting time.

These Argus Core arachnid-esque mechs are a recurring foe throughout the game, and they take a lot of effort to bring down.

Here's the slide/dash in action. You can feel the sheer motion of it from here. This adds a TON to the game and sets it apart from Gears.

Crystal Viper, round 2. This is where I realized his first battle wasn't actually the final boss. I WAS LIED TO.

More battles. I'd say the game is dragging on a bit, but considering the whole thing can be easily finished in 5 hours, it's impossible for this game to actually drag. It does go on a little bit past the point where it feels like it should end though, if that makes sense.

SPOILER ALERT: Your compatriots turn on you late in the game as it turns out that President Not-Hillary actually allowed the attack to happen so that she could have a big war with the terrorists and enrich the Military-Industrial Complex. So basically, nothing out of the ordinary.

Another big boss fight, and this one is a doozy. I thought this would be the final boss. There's something to be said for a blind playthrough like this of a game I know nothing about. I keep getting surprised.

Here are the actual final bosses. They're dastardly twins in powersuits similar to the hero. They're just agents of the big bad guy, the lead terrorist, who you don't actually fight in this game.

This fight is fast and furious, and possibly the hardest fight in the game since there are two of them. I think the penultimate boss might have been a little tougher overall though. Burns is much nastier than either of the Bogeys by themselves.

"End to major combat operations" is a Bush-era quote, interesting. The game really is a product of its time, with mid-late 2000's government mistrust at quite a high.

Now that she's been exposed, President Not-Hillary mulls over the ramifications of this disaster.

Wait what


I seriously can hardly believe they did that.

The villain who led the terrorists and manipulated the president. He gives us another Bush-era quote. Factor in the other one (and everything else) and I doubt it's a coincidence.

So the villain who manipulated everything gets away scott-free while President Not-Hillary takes the fall.

He's probably meant to be dealt with in the sequel...that we never got.

Sweet, arcade-style credits where you blast rocks that have pictures of the developers.

That's it for this game. Fantastic game, completely out of nowhere. Played it on a recommendation and I'm glad I did. There's a PS4 remaster now, and this is a fun game for anyone who likes arcade-style firefight type games. The levels feel like actual warzones, something most games of this ilk struggle with, and the whole mood is quintessentially Sega.

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