Video Game / Vanquish

"SC-01 Providence is currently under the control of those responsible for the coup in Moscow. We believe the operation is being led by a Red known as Zaitsev... Oh yeah, this is Sam. DARPA sent him to come along with us. Men, we've got eight hours to stop New York from becoming the next San Francisco. Make no mistake, we will stop that from happening!"
War has accelerated.

Vanquish is a Third-Person Shooter from PlatinumGames, the brain child of Shinji Mikami. Said by many to be what it would be like to give Gears of War a few shots of espresso.

The plot revolves around a massive Space Colony named Providence, established by the United States and outfitted with a massive solar-powered microwave energy array designed to collect energy and transmit it to Earth. However, the Order of the Russian Star, a militant regime that has recently seized control over Russia in an armed coup, invaded the colony. They have turned the colony's microwave transmitter, meant to transmit power to ground-based collector stations as a limitless energy source, into a weapon of mass destruction, and fired it at San Francisco, vaporizing its entire population. Following the attack is a prompt ultimatum: the United States will surrender to Russia, or they'll turn their new superweapon on New York City.

The United States' response is to deploy a massive counterattack on Providence, spearheaded by the U.S. Marines led by Lieutenant Colonel Robert Burns. Accompanying Burns is Sam Gideon, a researcher from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) who is outfitted in a prototype suit of powered armor. It falls to Burns, Sam, and the Marines to secure the colony before the Russians can fire the weapon again.

Vanquish was delivered to the world on October 19, 2010 for PS3 and Xbox 360. Sega released a PC port on May 25, 2017 with unlocked frame rate and resolution as well as mouse and keyboard support.

This video game provides examples of:

  • Artificial Limbs: Lieutenant Colonel Robert Burns with his mechanical right arm.
    • Not just his arm, over half his body is cybernetic as a result of the many tours of duty he's seen in his Marine career.
  • All There in the Manual: Only in the instruction manual is the player told that, if playing on Normal difficulty or higher, the player character's current weapon will downgrade upon death as a penalty.
  • Artistic License – Economics: The final chapter reveals that President Winters instigated the Russian coup and the colony takeover in an attempt to ignite a war that would boost the economy through war spending, not expecting that Zaitsev would go so far as to actually destroy San Francisco. War is good for an economy in the short-term only, with the infusion of cash leading to an economic boom, but the allocation of resources to war is ultimately devastating economically no matter what happens: the resources that could be used to improve the economy are instead used on non-helpful war tech.
  • Badass Bookworm: Sam. He's a former College 'ball player who's gruff, snarky and chain smokes, but you can't forget he's also a lead researcher at DARPA and was evidently one of the key minds in the creation of the ARS itself.
  • The Battle Didn't Count: Played straight after you fight the first Bogey. Played with during the finale, when you defeat both Bogeys, but find out that Zaitsev was only remotely controlling them.
  • BFG: Lieutenant Colonel Burns' giant Vulcan cannon even has a pop-out shield on it to provide him with cover as he destroys everything.
  • The Big Guy: Lieutenant Colonel Burns, whose forearms are bigger than his head.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Sure, Sam managed to stop the microwave cannon from destroying New York and Moscow, but Zaitsev manages to escape and the Order of the Russian Star shows no signs of backing down. Not to mention, President Winters commits suicide after her plan backfired horribly.
  • Blood Knight: Sam. Best demonstrated during the enemy transport portion of Act 2, Mission 2:
    Jason: We've got a situation ahead. You DARPA folk need to fall back!
    Sam: Hey! Elena!
    Elena: I should lower your speed, right?
    Sam: You kidding!? Go faster! I want a piece of the action.
    Jason: We're not taking responsibility if you end up K.I.A., sir.
    Sam: I don't expect you to! Now where's the fight?
  • Boring, but Practical: While you can do all those awesome maneuvers in the game, you still have standard cover shooting as an option.
  • Bullet Time: Called "Augmented Reality", it's triggered when aiming during certain evasive actions like dodging, sliding or jumping over cover. It also activates automatically when you take too much damage, giving you a chance to escape.
  • Clothes Make the Superman: As badass as Sam is in the ARS, he'd be significantly less so outside it.
  • Creator Cameo: One of the soldiers in Act 3 is named S. Mikami.
  • Cyber Punk Is Techno: The soundtrack is predominantly industrial techno, with a touch of orchestra.
  • Death Equals Redemption: After defeating Burns, he decides that Sam has fairly won and prevents other soldiers from killing him.
  • Defeat Equals Explosion: The death animation that doesn't have Sam Blown Across the Room has him collapse before his suit detonate from overheating.
    • Not to mention most of the robotic enemies you face explode in some capacity when adequately filled with lead.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: In the intro, Sam offers Burns a position at DARPA while smoking. His response? Suddenly swing a large knife at Sam's face close enough to cut his cigarette in half because smoking isn't allowed. It's implied that he knew Sam would be fast enough to dodge it, since he has some idea of the capabilities of the ARS. Or he was pre-emptively trying to take Sam out.
  • Dodge the Bullet: Because every enemy bullet is rendered and has a trail, and because of the prominence of BulletTime, there's plenty of opportunity for this.
  • Driven to Suicide: President Winters.
  • Eagle Land: Who You Gonna Call? when rascally Russians hijack your space station? A football player turned super soldier and his grizzled old Sarge (OK, Lieutenant Colonel, but he's got all the trappings of a Sergeant Rock).
  • Easier Than Easy: "Casual Auto" mode, which is just like casual except that your crosshairs automatically focus on the nearest enemy when aiming.
  • Easily Forgiven: Sam to Burns, which may be why Burns helps him out right afterwards.
  • 11th-Hour Superpower: Sam yells at Elena to disable the limiters on his suit so he can fight Zaitsev more effectively in the final boss battle. This greatly boosts your sliding speed and doubles your boost meter, allowing you to spend twice as long in AR Mode and/or powersliding.
  • Elite Mook: Gorgie-USG and USR variants, which are more heavily armored and equipped with shotguns and jetpacks, as opposed to the USN model which only has a machine gun. The USS variant doesn't really count, since it's just as fragile as the USN and the only difference is that it uses a sniper rifle.
    • The U.S. Marine squad defending Burns in Act 5.
  • Empowered Badass Normal: Burns again, who already was a musclebound, gritty Space Marine even before half his body was replaced by cybernetics.
  • Evolving Weapon: Grabbing upgrade cubes, or collecting ammo for your equipped weapon while you're at capacity upgrade your gun in numerous ways. Not only will their firepower, speed and clip size increase, after a number of levels they will obtain minor aesthetic changes as well.
  • Exploding Barrels: Every now and then, but they're surprisingly uncommon for such an action-packed shooting game.
  • Faux Affably Evil: Sam lights a cigarette upon reaching Zaitsev, and he stops to both let him finish it and talk a while.
  • Gatling Good: Burns's Weapon of Choice is a massive gatling gun that comes with a deployable blast shield.
  • Giant Enemy Crab: And you Attack Its Weak Point so you can attack its OTHER weak point. Justified in-universe; Elena states that the robot's armor plating was deliberately reduced to enable it to carry more ammunition. And considering how many missiles it fires...
  • Giant Mook: The Romanov. This big guy is fond of blowing people apart with his missiles, frying them with his eye laser thing, and simply tearing people in half. And oh yeah, did I mention he can kill you in one hit with his Chest Blaster?
    • And there are multiple versions of Romanovs, like the standard gun and missile, the drill arm Romanovs, and the flamethrower Romanovs.
  • Gory Discretion Shot: The civilians that explode in the intro do so off screen.
  • The Gunslinger: Sam Gideon, in comparison to a lot of PlatinumGames' other well-known protagonists.
  • Guttural Growler: Sam Gideon's voice is something like the animated Wolverine filtered through Dirty Harry. Col. Burns takes this even further, sounding like all that stuff meets a rock-tumbler with the bass turned up (of course it's Steve Blum, so they got the right man for the job).
  • Harder Than Hard: God Hard.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: Sam manages to get Zaitsev's rail gun away and finishes him off with it. Well, his empty remote-controlled armor suit, at least.
  • Idiosyncratic Difficulty Levels:
  • I Know Madden Kombat: When moving around, Sam's grenade toss animation is similar to a football toss. Justified — an in-game document explains that he played college ball before joining DARPA.
  • Jurisdiction Friction: Sam (of DARPA) and Burns (of U.S. Marine Corps) constantly bicker over who gives the orders and who takes them.
  • Justified Tutorial: The game begins with Sam testing the ARS. Thankfully, you can cut the session short, but you have to do a few of the exercises before you get the option to do so.
    "Look, I know you're in a rush to get to the bar, but we've got a lot to go over..."
  • Kill Sat: The "peaceful" space colony Providence can use its solar energy to destroy entire cities, as the Russians demonstrated by cooking San Francisco.
  • Kung-Shui: The cutscene in between the tutorial and the first playable mission alone probably racks up billions in property damage, and things only get rowdier from there on out.
  • Large Ham: Pretty much every single thing Burns says.
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall: "This sounds like a bad video game!"
  • Leap and Fire: Holding the aim button while vaulting over a chest-high wall triggers a brief spurt of Bullet Time, allowing you to pick off enemies or get height on others.
  • Macross Missile Massacre: Argus bots and Buzzards like doing this.
  • Make the Bear Angry Again: The Russian Star regime.
  • The Man Behind the Man: President Winters was the one who supported Zaitsev's coup in Russia, so that the United States would have a legitimate reason to go to war against a "bad guy" and stimulate the weak American economy.
    • Zaitsev's boss, who is apparently a high-ranking member in the Order of the Russian Star.
  • Male Gaze: When a scene focuses on Elena there are times when the camera shifts it's focus towards her legs or rear. Because this is a Platinum game.
  • Mecha-Mooks: 99% of the enemies in this game are robots.
  • Mission Control: Elena Ivanova
  • Mini-Game Credits: Shooting asteroids with the development team on them.
  • Mood Dissonance: For a good 95%+ of the game, you're blowing up somewhat cheesy-looking robots with goofy names like "Romanov," "Gorgie," and "Bia" and are probably pretty used to the bright blue explosions and flying scrap metal that are the result of defeating your enemies. Then Act 5, Mission 2 comes along, and there are no more robots: from then on you're fighting flesh and blood human beings. It can be very jarring to suddenly begin seeing blood bursting out of the targets you're shooting instead of sparks and metal parts. What's even more unsettling is that your human enemies (except for Burns) never speak a word, making them Not So Different from the robots you've been blowing up. It doesn't help that they're also Faceless Goons.
  • Mood Whiplash: A long, lingering shot of the president after she shoots herself in the head...followed by cheery space adventure music as you shoot asteroids with the development team's faces on them.
  • Morph Weapon: The Battlefield Logic ADaptable Electronic weapons system(BLADE) not only transforms into up to three different weapons on command, it can store itself in Sam's arm. How does it work? Who cares?
  • Nintendo Hard: Hoo boy. The campaign is manageable, but the Tactical Challenges... Challenge 4 is essentially self-punishment, and the secret Challenge 6 is even harder.
    • Played entirely straight in the campaign with God Hard difficulty, which lives up to its' name to the nth degree: Sam's health is immensely lowered, enemies focus on you solely, health regen is slowed by half, weapons cannot be upgraded, ARS has only a quarter of its' regular capacity and recovers at half-speed, rockets cannot be found in weapons caches, and harder enemies are encountered much earlier. To top it off, getting hit by a stray grenade is almost a guaranteed one-hit KO, and they'll be lobbing them at you in the dozens.
  • Not the Fall That Kills You: Averted. While Sam is falling from a long distance in a cutscene near the end of the game, he uses his boosters to slow himself down enough so that he won't rip his arm off when he grabs a ledge. And while hanging, the first thing he does is light up a cigarette and then pull himself up.
    • Played straight, though, in Act 3's ending. As Sam leaps off of the exploding Kreon, he falls for a while until Burns catches him and swings him into the dropship. Justified for Burns since he caught Sam with his mechanical arm; not so much for Sam since he didn't even activate his boosters when falling.
  • One-Hit Kill: Quite a few things can push you right past forced AR activation and into death, regardless of how much damage you've soaked up to that point. Most notable is the Unknown's instant-kill attack, which WILL catch you off guard the first time it does it.
  • Palette Swap: It's not obvious at first, but the Marines and the basic mooks. It also doubles as a bit of Foreshadowing
  • Powered Armor:
    • Sam Gideon's shtick. He's testing it for DARPA.
    • Zaitsev's also got one. Sam mutters that it's "patented."
  • Power of the God Hand: As noted in Shout-Out, there's an achievement called "The Hand Of God."
  • Pummel Duel: Sam Gideon's Fight against the Leader of the Order of the Russian Star.
  • Rated M for Manly
  • Rapid-Fire Fisticuffs: Returns once again as a PlatinumGames Tradition, between Sam and Victor Zaitsev in the final boss fight.
  • Recursive Ammo: The Buzzard mini-boss's cluster missiles.
  • Red Shirt Army: The Marines have pathetic lifespan expectancies. Everyone, including them, seem to be aware of this.

  • Robo Teching: The Lock-On Laser. Lasers go up, then down, kind of like a high-tech version of the Javelin Missile Launcher. It's nowhere near as powerful as that, though.
  • Robot War: The only non-robot Russian combatant deployed is Big Bad Victor Zaitsev. The exception to this trope occurs in Act 5-2 when Sam gets into a lethal conflict of interest with [[spoiler:genocidally patriotic American Lt. Col. Burns and the covert-ops U.S. Marines. Even the final battle with Zaitsev end up being against two, simultaneously-controlled "slave" units.
  • Reverse the Polarity: Invoked word for word by Elena when instructing Sam how to destroy the Kreon's energy source. Of course you're trying to cause a malfunction rather than a miracle in this case.
  • Rule of Cool: Is the US government designing a Powered Armorsuit that lets the user slide around at 50 mph on their knees? Doubtful. Would they ever consider such a venture to be a practical evolution of warfare? Probably not. Does it still make a good gameplay feature in spite of that? You better believe it.
    • How many video game protagonists are there who can rocket slide into a wall, kick off it, perform a backflip in the air, pull out a sniper rifle and snipe two guys in the head while still descending from the backflip?
  • Scenery Porn: The entire game takes place on a super technologically advanced cylindrical space colony a la Babylon 5 named "Providence." You even get full control over the camera in the title menu.
  • Schrödinger's Gun: Played straight at the final battle when you fight two Russian ARS knock-offs like the one at the end of Act 1: one red, one blue. Whichever one you destroy first, Zaitsev will contact you and say: "The wrong one, I'm afraid". Subverted when both are revealed to be empty remote-controlled drones.
  • Serial Escalation: You can grab the artillery of a Giant Enemy Crab transformer and slam dunk it back in its gun barrel. It only gets better from there.
  • Sequel Hook: Zaitsev gets away, and is revealed to be merely an agent for his organization, the Order of the Russian Star.
  • Shout-Out: If you mash the melee button with the assault rifle equipped, you'll pull off a barrage of punches akin to Gene. His fists even glow orange.
  • Smoking Is Cool: Sam lights up at pretty much every opportunity, and his voice shows it. It's even gone so far as to be a gameplay mechanic; while hiding in cover Sam can take a "Smoke Break", followed by tossing the still lit butt out of cover to distract his robotic enemies.
  • Sociopathic Soldier: Burns.
  • Space Marine: Your allies are the U.S. Marine Corps, IN SPACE! Averted with Sam and Elena, who work for DARPA. This causes some Jurisdiction Friction between Sam and Burns over whose orders take precedence during the operation.
  • Spiritual Successor: To P.N.03, according to Mikami.
  • Skewed Priorities: After barely catching a ledge in a cutscene, Sam continues hanging over a death drop by one arm to light a cigarette.
    • It also tends to act as a distraction.
  • Snark-to-Snark Combat: Sam and Burns run on this:
    [Burns descends from a chopper]
    Burns: Miss me, sweetheart?
    Sam: Jesus, you? I liked you better when I thought you were dead.
    Burns: And I liked you better when I didn't have to hear your shit.
  • Stealth Parody: The writer of the review of Vanquish on Gamespot seems to think it is this.
  • Stock Scream: There's a Wilhelm Scream towards the end of Act 1.
  • Superweapon Surprise: The microwave emitter on Providence was not intended as a weapons system, but the Russians got creative.
  • Swiss Army Gun: The BLADE Weapon system. It can transform itself to replicate any weapon that Sam encounters on the battlefield, from Armor-Piercing handguns to rocket launchers and laser cannons; Sam only needs to supply the ammo.
  • Take That!: One ad pokes fun at Halo stating that "If it takes a decade to finish the fight, you should probably switch tactics."
  • Take Cover!: But you probably won't; you'll be too busy powersliding around the battlefield. Plus, you're more robust than most protagonists who take cover. The protagonist has a number of high-speed moves that allow you to easily dodge enemy fire while retaliating. When you're dangerously low on health, Bullet Time kicks in, allowing you find the necessary chest-high walls easily.
    • The game's developers had already experimented with cover mechanics years before they became popular, such as Shinji Mikami's Resident Evil 4 and Sega's Bonanza Bros, and are now doing the same with Vanquish.
      • Of note is actually how good said system is. You can boost out of cover, dive into a slow-mo shot, hop over it for another slow-mo shot, throw a distraction out to draw fire, and there are even 3 kinds of cover. Walls give you the most protection but have a hard time being boosted from, near-the-floor cover means little space to hide and standing straight up to shoot, but being able to boost in a second, and chest-high cover is somewhere in the middle.
  • Taking You with Me: Burns' death; demanding Sam leave him, he stays behind to detonate a bomb in his arm and kill several Elite Mooks.
  • Technology Porn: Sam's ARS suit constantly shifts and reconfigures, as does the BLADE weapon. The tutorial zone also qualifies, featuring huge weapon benches that fold out of tiny tiles on the floor.
    • Elena's holographic support console qualifies, with all kinds of free-floating, touch-sensitive displays that can be pulled and slid around in a Minority Report-esque fashion.
  • Tele-Frag: The robots can teleport in reinforcements. The Marines... not so much. Sam states that living things won't survive the process, and that a rat that got caught in a teleportation experiment ended up with its head "literally shoved up its ass" and "it'll be another three years before (they) can get a human to the same state."
  • Took a Level in Badass: The red shirt soldiers that accompany you, during the fight against Burns.
  • Trapped in Containment: The majority of the Marines on the Providence asphyxiate to death when they are unable to get past a blast shield that was closed to contain a breach in the colony's outer hull.
  • Transforming Mecha: The Argus bot is a four-legged robot that can turn into a Humongous Mecha.
    • The Bia bot is a robot scorpion that can transform into a mech wielding a massive axe.
    • The Buzzard has flight and land modes encountered at different points in the game.
  • Unnecessarily Large Interior: A space station has a massive middle section.
    • The Providence has an incredibly large population to run all the energy-gathering and converting systems, and the do all have to live somewhere. According to the Operation Dossier, it's considered The Fifty-first state of America.
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: Sam and Burns. Probably the best explanation for Sam trying to help Burns in Act 5 even after Burns betrays him and Sam is forced to gun him down, and Burns doing the same in buying Sam time with his explosive death.
  • Voice with an Internet Connection: Elena Ivanova.
  • We Have Reserves: Burns has a really bad case of this.
    Burns: Screw it! Leave 'em! Elena, close this door!
    Burns: Marines complete the mission. We don't get the luxury of choosing how.