What Made Vanquish so Special Back in 2010?

PlatinumGames’ colorful decade of existence is filled with action-filled blockbusters. Best known for their high-octane hack-and-slash games, the studio has left its mark on the industry with classic titles such as Bayonetta, Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance, and NieR: Automata. It’s easy to look at the studio’s penchant for success and forget their mistakes (The Legend of Korra) and even their forgotten gems. Vanquish is one of those titles. A third-person shooter that blended in Platinum’s love for fast-paced action, Vanquish didn’t set the sales charts on fire. The game was a hit with critics and players who picked up the game, though. It’s never a good idea to launch a new IP during the holiday season and holiday 2010 was not fertile ground for new IP. Launching on October 19, 2010, Vanquish had to contend with the likes of Fallout: New Vegas, Rock Band 3, Kinect, Call of Duty: Black Ops and Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood among others. Still, there was plenty to love about Vanquish’s fast-paced shooting.

There isn’t much to love about Vanquish’s story, though. You play as Sam Gideon, a no-nonsense soldier equipped with an Augmented Reaction Suit (ARS), who is dispatched to the Providence space colony after it is taken over by a hostile force. The campaign is bonkers but serves its purpose. The goal is to get players into exciting shootouts and it successfully does that. It’s the ARS that makes Vanquish so different from its contemporaries. In a generation filled with slow-paced cover shooters like Gears of War and Uncharted, Vanquish is a breath of fresh air. Sure, Vanquish has cover mechanics, but the game’s mechanics encourage players to keep moving. The ARS allows to evade, slide quickly and vault over cover through the use of boosters. A quick tap of a button enables players to enter Augmented Reaction (AR) mode, which allows them to slow down time and pinpoint enemy weak spots.

The speed and action the suit provides are fully taken advantage of in the level design. Vanquish puts players in large battle arenas filled with enemy soldiers, enemy walkers and others. While there’s plenty of cover, it’s meant to be used as a jumping-off point to execute sleek tricks. Using your boosters to jet around the arena, evading fire, vaulting over cover and activating AR mode creates a satisfying gameplay loop that carries the game throughout its 8-10 hour campaign.

Aiding the mechanics are the weapons. The ARS allows players to hold up to three guns and two types of grenades. There’s nothing revolutionary about the available weapons, but they serve their purpose. You have your Assault Rifle, LMG, shotgun, sniper, rocket launcher and so on. Each weapon can be upgraded to improve their capabilities and they serve well in delivering the over-the-top action. Vanquish also bucked the trend when it came to visuals. For a generation defined by brown and destruction, the shiny, futuristic halls of the Providence offered a visual escape from the war-torn battlefields of so many games. For a game that took place in a space station in the vacuum of space, Vanquish felt more alive than games that actually took place on Earth.

Vanquish never got a sequel. Though the game earned a solid 84 on Metacritic, it failed to generate many sales. By March 2011, the PS3 and Xbox 360 versions sold a combined 830,000 units worldwide. There is, however, hope. Sega finally released the game on PC in 2017, with nearly 144,000 players enjoying that version. Vanquish’s next lease on life comes on February 18 as part of the Bayonetta & Vanquish 10th Anniversary Bundle. A remaster, this release of Vanquish arrives on PS4 and Xbox One with enhanced visuals and improved performance. PS4 Pro and Xbox One X owners can experience the game running in 4K at 60fps. It’s a second chance few games get, and hopefully this time more players will give this gem of a game a chance.

Bayonetta & Vanquish 10th Anniversary Bundle launches February 18 on PS4 and Xbox One. Vanquish is currently available on PC via Steam.