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Vanquish is the Best Pure Platinum Experience

An ode to one of Platinum's more underappreciated gems.

Opinion by Matt Kim, .

Despite boasting a video game roster that includes games like Bayonetta, Madworld, and Nier Automata, my heart will always belong to Platinum's less discussed, but no less outrageous third-person, sci-fi shooter Vanquish, which just announced a PC port.

Vanquish PC Port Coming out Later This Month

Shinji Mikami's Vanquish comes out May 25th with a bunch of bonuses.

Vanquish to me is peak Platinum, a definition that took several years to fully pin down given the wide breadth of games the company developed. As it stands, recent successes like Nier: Automata and Metal Gear: Revengeance feel more like successful collaborations more than full-throated Platinum offerings like Vanquish, Bayonetta, and Anarchy Reigns. And between the teasing fanservice of Bayonetta, and the strange, baroque shooter which allowed players to take control of a character I can only describe as a ballerina tank, then there's no contest. I was hooked the moment I laid eyes on that first luminescent teaser that debuted in 2010 (seen above).

Vanquish feels like the kind of post-modern blockbuster I've come to associate with Platinum. That is, a game that delivers larger-than-life setpieces, but with a knowing wink that the Hollywood-style spectacle is intrinsically dumb. It exists in Bayonetta, but it swims all throughout Vanquish's, let's be honest, dumb plot of an Iron Man-esque DARPA agent named Sam Gideon as he fights a rogue, separatist Russian militia and their commie meches.

While Vanquish received okay reviews at the time, plenty of reviewers knocked the strength of its story. To be perfectly frank, Vanquish could have been about a man looking for his missing goldfish, and I still would have loved it as long as it played the same.

However, as the focus on Platinum's stories have begun to take a rightful backseat to their OTT gameplay, I just dwell on the fact that I still haven't played a game like Vanquish, something that feels as good as it is dumb..

Vanquish's gameplay hook rests on two things: slowing down time, and lots of powerful guns, marrying the two in a perfect union. Combine that with a booster ability that lets Sam slide around space in the world's best feeling lounge simulator, and you get a game that gives you the firepower of a small army, but the momentum of a rollercoaster.

Vanquish

The first time I hit the AR (Augmented Reaction) mode, which is what Vanquish calls its bullet time mode, I knew I was in. There was something that just felt good about going from 100 mph to 0 with the press of a button. And as the AR mode proved to not only be cool, but downright necessary to beating the game's outrageously, oversized bosses, Platinum demonstrated just how cool it also thought the AR mode was.

I was also surprised that this game came from director Shinji Mikami, who pioneered a new kind of third-person action with Resident Evil 4, which I love but plays like a far less graceful tank. And as the clunky Evil Within proved, Mikami's experimentation with third-person action could sometimes go astray. But atop his oeuvre of third-person action games, only God Hand comes close to Vanquish's sheer feel.

Now I know what some of you are saying, "But Bayonetta! Bayonetta 2! Nier: Automata!" And yes, all of those games are good. But where I consider Nier more of a Yoko Taro effort, and Bayonetta as a game whose eccentricities sometimes overshadowed the wonderfully complicated gameplay, Vanquish feels like a pure experience. Like a well-tuned sports car.

Nier: Automata and the Illusion of Survival

“Everything that lives is designed to end."

As game design goes, Vanquish feels like a perfect version of several contradictory concepts: a blend of speed and poise, firepower and dexterity, and a 3D world streamlined to feel like a linear 2D experience. I can't help but thank Vanquish for giving me one of the most pure gaming experiences of my career as a video games enthusiast.

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Comments 12

  • Avatar for NiceGuyNeon #1 NiceGuyNeon 4 months ago
    I am in full agreement. Vanquish is a top 10 all time shooter. It is Platinum's greatest work and exemplifies everything they stand for. I'm ready for the PC version and can't wait to slide around those amazing set pieces.
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  • Avatar for ojinnvoltz #2 ojinnvoltz 4 months ago
    Vanquish is a 6 out of 5 game for me. It's something I play every year. It's a perfectly tuned action game with its great enemies, level design, weapons, and mechanics working together to create peerless combat encounters.Edited May 2017 by ojinnvoltz
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  • Avatar for lanmao #3 lanmao 4 months ago
  • Avatar for brionfoulke91 #4 brionfoulke91 4 months ago
    Great article! Personally I'd still put Bayonetta and NieR Automata a bit over it, but I absolutely agree with giving this woefully underrated action masterpiece more attention. And with the new PC version, hopefully a lot more people will discover it!
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  • Avatar for Roto13 #5 Roto13 4 months ago
    Vanquish is the best third person shooter. Ever.
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  • Avatar for milomikic1 #6 milomikic1 4 months ago
    Thank you. I am not alone. Yes, yes and YES. My favorite PS3 action game.
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  • Avatar for Toelkki #7 Toelkki 4 months ago
    Bought this on PS3 in a sale before eventually understanding that Platinum makes games I don't like. Given how I have the game but have never launched it, I suppose I could them this one last chance... even if the cards are straight up against them (TPS without Move/Wiimote/mouse+keyboard).
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  • Avatar for VotesForCows #8 VotesForCows 4 months ago
    I think what stood out for me is how it harked back to the shooters I grew up on. Cover is really not the place to be when you're in the thick of combat, rather you should be out tearing around the level at inhuman speeds. It was really refreshing to play something that was just all-out action, and impeccably refined and balanced at that.
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  • Avatar for jumpin_jeeps #10 jumpin_jeeps 4 months ago
    Vanquish also boasts my favourite PS3 case - a badass lenticular 3D affair. Am currently playing through Bayonetta 2 (so, so good) which scratches that same glorious itch. But after that I want to replay Vanquish, something I never really do with games. Both are superb arcade style fun.
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  • Avatar for VotesForCows #11 VotesForCows 4 months ago
    @jumpin_jeeps That case was a real thing of beauty!
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  • Avatar for Qalamari #12 Qalamari 4 months ago
    Well said, new guy.
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