Follow TV Tropes


Video Game / Vanquish

Go To
War has accelerated.
"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!"
Lt. Col. Robert Burns

Vanquish is a Stylish Action Third-Person Shooter from PlatinumGames, the brainchild 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 had recently seized control over Russia in an armed coup, has 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:

  • 11th-Hour Superpower: Sam convinces Elena to disable the limiters on his suit to 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.
    Sam: He's too fast! Dammit! Can't this suit react faster?! Elena, ditch the safety limiters on the suit!
    Elena: Sam! They're there for a reason! It isn't safe!
    Sam: Getting killed out here isn't safe either!
    Elena: Understood...I'm disabling them now.
  • Action Bomb:
    • The Jellyfish-type enemies that explode on close proximity and spawn smaller Jellyfish drones.
    • Gorgies may also flash red while charging towards Sam. If they get close, they will hug him and self detonate.
  • Actually a Doombot: You fight with seemingly two Victor Zaitsevs, one red and the other blue. After killing the first one, no matter which, Zaitsev will say you killed the wrong one. Unfortunately, Zaitsev was never there to begin with; they are both just doombots.
  • Advancing Wall of Doom: You outrun a collapsing highway of doom in Act 3-3.
  • An Arm and a Leg: The Disk Launcher can instantly chop off a Romanov's limbs and head. An achievement even requires you to remove a Romanov's arms and legs, and finish it with a melee attack.
  • Arbitrary Maximum Range: The LFE Gun's blast dissipates after about five meters.
  • 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.
  • Artificial Stupidity:
    • Your friendly marines have a nasty habit of blocking your view, and you may constantly hear Sam shout "Get out of the way!" when aiming at their position, and the A.I. marines are programmed to crouch when this happens (even if the entire area is clear). The problem is, they would stop shooting at the enemies while they crouch for a moment, leaving them open to rushing robots.
    • Enemy robots are susceptible to prioritizing your allies, and you can exploit this to your advantage by taking cover to have them "reset" their target after seeing Sam. This gets averted in God Hard difficulty, where enemies will always prioritize Sam.
  • Artistic License – Gun Safety: Subverted. If Sam aims his gun at an allied NPC, he will yell something along the lines of "Get out of the way", and the NPC will duck out of his aim.
  • All There in the Manual: Only in the instruction manual is the player told that, if playing on Normal or Hard difficulty, the player character's current weapon will downgrade upon death as a penalty. God Hard takes this rule to the extreme, prohibiting weapon upgrades altogether.
  • 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 sudden 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.
  • Attack Its Weak Point: Most robots have glowing red cores that serve as their weak points, allowing you to do increased damage. Bosses like the Argus have them too, but you'll have to expose it first by destroying glowing weak points on its limbs.
  • Awesome, but Impractical:
    • Power-sliding and finishing an enemy with a Diving Kick just feels so satisfying. It also helps that this is a powerful move that can instantly destroy Gorgies and send Romanovs flying backwards. The catch? It instantly Overheats your suit just like other melee attacks, leaving you vulnerable to open fire unless you dodge to the nearest cover.
    • In relation to the above, firing energy-based weapons such as the Laser Cannon while power-sliding. Watch as your suit rapidly overheats from all the combined energy drain.
  • Awesome Personnel Carrier: The seventh level has you aided by an APC armed with a railgun that can take out Romanovs in one shot.
  • Badass Bookworm: Sam. He's a former college football player who's gruff, snarky and chain-smokes, but don't forget that he's also a lead researcher at DARPA and was evidently one of the key minds in the creation of the ARS itself.
  • Barehanded Blade Block: In the first Quick Time Event against the Bogey, Sam punches its blade to deflect the slashes back repeatedly.
  • The Battle Didn't Count: Played straight after you first fight the Bogey. Played with during the finale, when you defeat both Bogeys, but find out that Zaitsev was only remotely controlling them.
  • Battleship Raid: Act 3 focuses on gaining access to the giant walking armory Kreon and destroying it from the inside.
  • Beam Spam: The Lock-On Laser is of the Roboteching type. The Bogey boss at the end of the first act has an even more spammy laser attack.
  • BFG: Lieutenant Colonel Burns' giant Vulcan cannon even has a retractable shield on it to provide him with cover as he mows everything down.
  • Big Bad: Victor Zakharov Zakhaev Zaitsev, lead agent of the Ultranationalists Order of the Russian Star.
  • Bigger Bad: Whoever Zaitsev seems to be talking to in the epilogue.
  • The Big Guy: Lieutenant Colonel Burns, whose forearms are bigger than his head.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Sure, Sam manages to stop the microwave cannon from destroying New York and Moscow, but Zaitsev escapes and the Order of the Russian Star shows no signs of backing down. Not to mention, President Winters commits suicide after her plan backfires horribly.
  • Blackout Basement: Near the end of Act 1, you are tasked to escort an armored vehicle in a dark tunnel filled with robot ambushes and exploding Jellyfish machines.
  • Blood Knight: Sam. Best demonstrated during the enemy transport portion of Act 2, Mission 2:
    Jason Macintosh: 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 sorts of awesome maneuvers in the game, you still have standard cover shooting as an option. It can prove crucial if you're under fire and your suit is overheating.
    • The military-grade firearms are more appropriate in most scenarios than energy-based weapons like the Laser Cannon that draw power from your suit. You're better off saving the suit's heat for evasive and Bullet Time maneuvers. The military-grade firearms are also easily scattered around the battlefield, and you can upgrade them to full stats faster than the rarer, high-tech firearms.
  • Boss in Mook Clothing: The Romanov robots are twice as big as the Gorgies, have high HP and durability, and are armed with missiles that blow Sam across the room and instantly send him into critical mode, sweeping Eye Beams, and a One-Hit Kill Wave Motion Gun Chest Blaster. Later versions have dual miniguns and homing missiles, flamethrowers, or launchable drill arms.
  • Bullet Time: Called "Augmented Reality mode", it's triggered when aiming during certain actions, like dodging, sliding, vaulting over cover, or even during melee attacks. It also activates automatically if you take too much damage, giving you a chance to escape.
  • Button Mashing: In some Quick Time Event scenes, the game makes you tap a single button (Or spin the analog) until Sam moves at full speed. And that's the speed of a man with rockets on his legs and back.
  • Cable-Car Action Sequence: Act 3-4 combines this with a Stealth-based Sniping Mission, where you ride a slow monorail car and have to snipe searchlights and turrets to avoid being detected.
  • Ceiling Cling: The Unknown does this when you first encounter it in a proper boss fight. If you think the robot is nowhere to be found, look up.
  • Censored Child Death: In the prologue, a mother and her young child watch as the microwave laser array targets San Francisco. They are meters away from the epicenter. And before we even get to see what happens to the child, there's only a blinding light, as the scene shifts to the other nearby citizens who are burned alive by the intense heat.
  • Clothes Make the Superman: As badass as Sam is in the ARS, he'd be significantly less so outside it.
  • Cognizant Limbs: A Spider Tank boss, the Argus, whose legs can be crippled. An achievement is awarded for destroying all of the individual body parts. Giant Mooks such as the Romanovs can also have their limbs disabled, another achievement requires doing this then finishing them with a melee attack.
  • Collapsible Helmet: The helmet of Sam's ARS retracts when he is talking (or smoking) in the cutscenes, and re-assembles when he's geared up for yet another gunfight. In Some acts, he also retracts the helmet while indoors, or when in a stealth-based objective
  • Colonel Badass: Lt. Colonel Burns is a massive dude with cybernetics up the wazoo touting a big ol' minigun as his main weapon.
  • Color-Coded for Your Convenience: Weapons on the ground have color-coded glowing outlines to help distinguish them individually:
    • Red for Heavy Machine Guns
    • Orange for Boost Machine Guns and Disk Launchers
    • White for Assault Rifles
    • Cyan for Lock-On Laser and Shotguns
    • Pink for Laser Cannon
    • Blue for Anti-Armor Pistols
    • Green for Rocket Launchers and Hand Grenades
    • Purple for Sniper Rifles
    • Yellow for LFE Launchers and EMP Transmitters
  • Concealment Equals Cover: Zigzagged, where some pieces of cover are indestructible, while others are quickly destroyed by explosives and other heavy weapons, and some weapons, such as the Romanovs's Chest Death Ray, can penetrate cover.
  • Continuing Is Painful: Continuing from a checkpoint causes you to lose your weapon upgrades, but restarting from the beginning of a level has you retain the upgrades you had when you entered.
  • Contractual Boss Immunity: Due to their crystalline body, Crystal Vipers are immune to optical weapons such as the Laser Cannon.
  • Cores-and-Turrets Boss: The Jamming Tower at the end of Act 2; a carousel-like structure with three tips containing cores shielded by shutter doors, and armed with cannons, purple death lasers, gatling guns, and missile batteries.
  • Corridor Cubbyhole Run: In Act 2-5, you must ascend a ramp while chunks of debris, and occasionally entire buildings, are bouncing down towards you.
  • Coup de Grâce Cutscene: Happens for quite a few bosses. Odd thing is, occasionally they combine it with Quick Time Event so what might become a Coup De Grace could blow up in your face forcing you to fight another mode of the boss or start all over again.
  • Cranial Processing Unit: Headshots kill the majority of robotic enemies (i.e. Gorgies) much faster. However, larger ones (i.e. Romanovs) can still fight despite losing their head.
  • Creator Cameo: One of the soldiers in Act 3 is named Shinji Mikami.
  • Critical Annoyance: This game has the screen blur and pulse red with frantic heartbeats.
  • Cutscene Power to the Max: Depending on the situation, this pops up in cutscenes, with Sam being able to run and jump far faster and farther than he can in-game, and there are certain special attacks against bosses that take it to almost ludicrious levels, i.e. stopping an Argus 'mech's stomping leg, shooting it in the core with his off-hand, then leaping on top of the stunned machine and drilling down into its core with his feet.
  • Cyber Cyclops: The Gorgies and a few other robots.
  • Cyber Punk Is Techno: The soundtrack is predominantly industrial techno, with a touch of orchestra.
  • Deadly Disc: The Disk Launcher shoots homing discs that boomerang. Luckily, they don't damage the player on return.
  • 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 send Sam flying has him collapse before his suit detonates from overheating.
    • The first Crystal Viper's death causes a massive explosion that destroys the Grand Coulee Dam.
    • Not to mention, most (if not all) of the enemy robots you face explode to some degree when adequately filled with lead.
  • Direct Continuous Levels: Most levels have seamless transitions in between.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: In the intro, Sam offers Burns a position at DARPA while smoking. His response? To 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 preemptively trying to take Sam out.
  • Diving Kick:
    • Initiating a melee attack while power-sliding will have Sam perform a diving kick with both feet at the nearest target. While powerful enough to instantly destroy the lesser robots, it can knockback larger ones. And just like the other melee attacks, it also Overheats your suit!
    • Zaitsev also does this to you in your first fight.
  • Dodge the Bullet: Because every enemy bullet is rendered and has a trail, and because of AR mode, there's plenty of opportunity for this.
  • Driven to Suicide: President Winters.
  • Drone of Dread: The Romanov-Gs' One-Hit Kill super missiles emit a droning sound.
  • Drop the Hammer: The Romanov-F has a giant spiked hammer, coupled with a flamethrower that causes your armor to overheat.
  • Dual Boss:
    • Act 2 pits you against two Argus robots. While you have already seen it transform in your first fight, here, you get to fight its two separate forms at once.
    • In the final Act, you face to Bogeys remotely-controlled by Zaitsev.
  • Dynamic Loading: The game switches to a first-person HUD/visor view and slows Sam to a walking pace when loading a level or sublevel. Other devices such as elevators or airlocks are also occasionally used.
  • Eagle Land: Who you gonna call when rascally Russians hijack your space station? A football player turned supersoldier 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 aim snaps to the nearest enemy when aiming.
  • Easily Forgiven: Sam to Burns, which may be why Burns helps him out right afterwards.
  • Elite Mook:
    • Gorgie-USG and USR variants, which are more heavily armored (and in the USG's case, equipped with shotguns and jetpacks), as opposed to the standard 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 squad of U.S. Marines defending Burns in Act 5.
  • EMP: Sam has EMP grenades that temporarily paralyze robots, and certain enemies have EMP-type attacks that overload Sam's Powered Armor and prevent him from using Boost or ARS.
  • Empowered Badass Normal: Burns again, who already was a musclebound, gritty Space Marine, even before you factor in that half his body was replaced by cybernetics.
  • Equipment Upgrade: The BLADE Weapon System allows you to pick-up the same weapon to replenish your ammo. When you have full ammo for that weapon, any subsequent pick-ups will upgrade its Chevron ranking. Repeat this enough times to improve the gun's capacity, accuracy or firepower. It is also notorious as any death on the Normal and above difficulties will degrade the weapon's rank.
  • Escort Mission: Done in a Blackout Basement with an armored vehicle that must be guided to destroy a barricade at the end of the tunnel.
  • Everyone Loves Blondes: Elena remarkably achieves Ms. Fanservice despite being modestly dressed compared to other PlatinumGames female characters.
  • Evolving Weapon: Grabbing upgrade chips (or collecting ammo for an equipped weapon while you're at full capacity) upgrades your weapon in numerous ways. Not only can its 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.
  • Explosive Overclocking: Overclocking the ARS in Vanquish by removing its limiters can have unpleasant effects on the user. In-game, if Sam takes too much fire from enemy troops, he passes out, and the suit's attempts to repair and compensate for the damage result in its engine overloading and exploding.
  • Expy: The Crystal Viper is visually similar to an exposed Doctor Doom while also having a fair share of electricity and subtle telekinetic powers. It can also turn invisible, much like Invisible Woman. If you successfully parry it's sword attack, Sam can punch the fragile coating of the robot to reveal a mechanical exoskeleton with red eyes, just like T-800 from Terminator.
  • Faux Affably Evil: Sam lights a cigarette upon reaching Zaitsev, and he stops to both let Sam 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: The KNRB-0 Argus. You shoot at its joints so you can attack its core. 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-N. This big guy is fond of blowing people apart with his missiles, frying them with his eye laser, and simply tearing people in half. And oh yeah, did we mention he can kill you in one hit with his Chest Blaster?
  • Gory Discretion Shot:
  • Guide Dang It!:
    • If you haven't been paying enough attention in the tutorial section, you'll never know that you could actually shoot your own grenades when you enter AR mode after lobbing one. It does mention the ability to shoot grenades and projectiles of enemies.
    • An achievement requires you to kill three robots distracted by your cigarette. However, the game doesn't explicitly tell you that Sam can smoke a cigarette while under cover by pressing the "slide" key without directional input. There is one part of the HUD that is displayed when you are in cover - a cigarette icon and its counter.
    • Good luck finding all of the Pangloss Statues for one achievement, it'll be a Pixel Hunt without a guide.
  • 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. 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).
  • Hand Cannon: The Anti-Armor Pistol lives up to its name by packing quite a punch. Despite its more compact form than most guns, it can deal sufficient damage just lower than the Sniper Rifles and a range similar to Shotguns.
  • Harder Than Hard: God Hard.
  • He Was Right There All Along: In Act 2-6, you will observe a strange carousel-like object at the top of the hill from several points in the level. That's the Jamming Tower that serves as the act's boss battle.
  • Hell Is That Noise:
    • The charge prior to Zaitsev's Wave Motion Gun attack described below, which plays at a lower pitch than his lock-on laser attack.
    • The pitch-increasing alarm when the Romanov-G fires its One-Hit Kill homing missile.
    • Bia's screeches, of course.
  • Hitbox Dissonance: If you stand too close to a Romanov as it charges a large ball of energy from its chest, you can be insta-killed even if you're behind it (A Romanov's back is fully armored like the rest of its body, except for the opening in its chest).
  • Hitscan: All kinetic weapons have visible projectiles that can be dodged in Bullet Time.
  • Hit Stop: Time slows down for a while to showcase the impact of the last enemy attack that kills Sam.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard:
    • In Act 2, Sam uses a flying transport to redirect the heat-seeking homing missiles of the KNRB-0 Argus by ramming the vehicle back at it, with Sam jumping out of the way while the missiles destroy their sender.
    • Sam manages to take Zaitsev's gun and finish him off with it. Well, his empty remote-controlled suit, at least.
  • Homing Lasers: Sam's Lock-On Laser, as well as one of Zaitsev's attacks.
  • Humongous Mecha: The game is crawling with these, some are Elite Mooks, bosses taking up the size of an arena, carriers, or even the ones that you can mount.
  • Hyperspace Arsenal: Subverted. You have the new prototype BLADE (Battlefield Logic A Daptable Electronic) weapon, an expandable carbon nanotube device which can re-arrange itself into any weapon stored in its memory, including weapons bigger than your torso. The catch is, the data needed to make up a whole gun-sized object, down to the molecular level, is so much that the gun's hard drive can only store three configurations at a time. These can be swapped by scanning different guns, which also provide more ammo.
  • Idiosyncratic Difficulty Levels: Casual Auto, Casual, Normal, Hard, God Hard.
  • 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.
  • Join or Die: In the prologue, Zaitsev threatens New York to join their Russian Force, or else they will fire the microwave energy array like they did with San Francisco.
  • Jurisdiction Friction: Sam (of DARPA) and Burns (of the U.S. Marine Corps) tend to 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 complete a few of the exercises before you get the option to do so. But you'll have to complete all segments if you want to earn one achievement.
    "Look, I know you're in a rush to get to the bar, but we've got a lot to go over..."
  • Kaizo Trap: The first Bogey boss fight ends with a tricky Press X to Not Die cutscene, just when you have finally depleted the boss's HP to 0.
  • Kill Enemies to Open: Prevalent in a sense that almost every scripted sequence and cutscene will only trigger once all enemies in the current area are defeated.
  • 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 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.
  • Ladder Physics: Sam leaps to the top of ladders rather than climbing them.
  • Large Ham: Pretty much every single thing Burns says.
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall: When Elena explains to Sam that the Crystal Viper is immune to "Optical Weapons" such as laser beams.
  • 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.
  • Load-Bearing Boss: The twin Bogeys in the final level are armed with tactical nukes that activate after Sam defeats them, destroying the space colony.
  • Loading Screen: Notable in a sense that it displays additional information regarding the characters and technology in the world of Vanquish.
  • Locomotive Level: Act 2 has two sections of this - One with a larger transport that sets off a wave defense gameplay alongside the Marines, and the second section has Sam riding a smaller floating vehicle across the train tracks.
  • Ludicrous Gibs: Doesn't apply to Sam, but to the soldiers in Act 5-1 when they start to run across the bridge when the lasers are firing.
  • Macross Missile Massacre: Argus bots and Buzzards specialize in this.
  • Made of Iron: Sam Gideon can survive falling from tall heights, explosions and kinetic impact. Justified thanks to his extremely durable Powered Armor. In Normal or lower difficulties, he can even take a direct hit from a rocket without instantly dying.
  • Make the Bear Angry Again: The Order of 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.
    • As mentioned before, 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 its focus towards her legs or rear. Because this is a Platinum game.
  • Mecha-Mooks: 99% of the enemies in this game are robots.
  • Military Mashup Machine: The Kreon is a spider-legged land dreadnought.
  • Missile Lock-On: The Rocket Launcher is equipped with this, and some of its upgrades reduce the lock-in time required.
  • Mission Control: Elena Ivanova.
  • Mini-Game Credits: Shooting asteroids with pictures of 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 robots: 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 (save 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, the ARS has only a quarter of its regular capacity and recovers at half speed, rockets cannot be found in weapon crates, and harder enemies are encountered much earlier. To top it off, getting hit by a stray grenade is almost a guaranteed one-hit kill, and they'll be lobbing them at you in the dozens.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: The US President is fairly clearly modeled on Hillary Clinton.
  • No Death Run: Encouraged in one achievement.
  • Not the Fall That Kills You:
    • Averted. When Sam falls 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 happens.
  • One-Way Visor: The green-tinted visor in Sam's Powered Armor covers his face.
  • Optional Stealth: In Act 3, you have to destroy searchlights and a patrol vehicle to avoid detection while your team infiltrates a monorail. Surprisingly, there is a silencer-equipped sniper rifle for you to do the job cleanly, and firing loud weapons trigger the alarms and missiles will be fired at your position from the gates. That doesn't mean that you'll have to stick to stealth though, you can fire your weapons at the incoming missiles to deflect them one-by-one until your monorail reaches the gate.
  • Overheating: A part of the ARS's gameplay mechanic, several maneuvers such as melee attacks, power-sliding and Bullet Time as well as energy weapons like the Laser Cannon draw power from your suit's reactor. An HUD, audio and visual indicators help you keep track of this and if your suit does overheat, you won't be able to utilize said maneuvers and weapons until your suit fully cools down. Some enemy attacks and environmental hazards like the Kreon's afterburners will instantly overheat your suit when your in their proximity.
  • Palette Swap: It's not obvious at first, but the Marines and the basic mooks. It also doubles as a bit of foreshadowing.
  • Pixel Hunt: Searching for and shooting Pangloss Statues. Not only are they small, their glimmer effect is not very outstanding as their bronze color blends with the game's grey/dark color palletes
  • "Pop!" Goes the Human: This happens to several victims of the microwave beam attack during the intro.
  • 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 Zaitsev, both times.
  • Quick Time Event: Mostly initiated when you knock down a boss's HP to a certain threshold. This is also done in tandem with Button Mashing, as every on-screen key input requires you to mash the button within a time-frame.
  • Railroad Tracks of Doom: In the train level, after the enemy train shows up, you have a limited time to kill all the baddies on board, or else the trains collide at the intersection and you die.
  • Random Number God: The weapons that you receive from item boxes or fallen robots may change if you reload the same checkpoint.
  • Rated M for Manly: No shit, almost all of the Space Marines are muscular soldiers, while Burns himself is a massive, bulky soldier who wields a futuristic gatling gun. While your Player Character Sam Gideon has a normal build under that armor, his ARS Powered Armor is what makes him badass, capable of making high-speed slides, vaults, dodging, and close-quarters combat.
  • Rapid-Fire Fisticuffs: Returns once again as a PlatinumGames Tradition, between Sam and Zaitsev.
  • Recurring Boss: The KNRB-0 Argus is fought two more times after its first appearance in Act 1-3; as a Dual Boss in Act 2-3, and once again as a solo boss in Act 4-2. The Final Boss is a Dual Boss version of the Bogey from Act 1-8.
  • Recursive Ammo: The Buzzard mini-boss's cluster missiles.
  • Red Shirt Army: The Marines have pathetic lifespan expectancies. Everyone, including them, seems to be aware of this.
  • Regenerating Health: Typical for a shooter game released in the 2000's. Not taking damage for a given period will restore Sam's health.
  • Renegade Russian: Zaitsev, who initiated a coup in Russia with his robot army.
  • 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. Except in Act 5-2 when Sam gets into a lethal conflict of interest with the genocidally patriotic Burns and his U.S. Marines.
    • Even the final battle with Zaitsev ends up being against two, simultaneously-controlled "slave" units.
  • Reverse the Polarity: Invoked word for word by Elena when instructing Sam on 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 battlesuit 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 rifle and snipe two guys in the head while still descending from the backflip?
  • Save Scumming: In the Normal and higher difficulties, dying and continuing from the game over screen will degrade the rank of your weapons (and also forfeits a No Death Run achievement). However, if you choose to return to the title from the game over screen, your record will not be penalized, and you can just simply continue from the main menu with your weapon upgrades at their state on the saved checkpoint, as well as no death recorded in your end-of-level statistics.
    • In other words, there is actually a difference between the options presented when you die - "Continue" will retain all your current weapon upgrades, while choosing "Return to Title" will revert the upgrades to when the checkpoint was saved, forcing you to scavenge boxes again for the weapons.
  • 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 Bogeys like the one at the end of Act 1: one red, one blue. Whichever 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: In Act 1-3, you grab the artillery shell from an Argus robot and slam-dunk it back down its gun barrel. It only gets better from there.
  • Sequel Hook: Zaitsev gets away, and is revealed to be merely an agent for the Order of the Russian Star.
  • Shockwave Stomp: In the second Argus battle, its bipedal form has a stomp attack that generates an EMP, putting Sam's armor into Overheating.
  • 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.
  • Spider Tank: The KNRB-0 Argus.
  • Spin to Deflect Stuff: View Hounds can spin their rotor blades to deflect attacks while in robot mode.
  • Spiritual Successor: To P.N.03, according to Mikami.
  • Spiteful A.I.: Even if you are surrounded by bulky marines carrying rocket launchers while you are completely out of ammo, every single enemy will try to gun you down specifically provided you aren't hiding behind cover, in which case many enemies will suicidally charge forward just to get behind your barricade and stab you in the face. It is somewhat justified in that the enemies for 99% of the game are robots and the fact that you have the super prototype ARS, you are probably considered to be a bigger threat. Not so justified when your allies seem to enjoy running in front of you while you're firing or rushing into an enemy warp point which pretty much automatically kills them as well as 'sitting' on grenades. Even worse, the more allied kills you get, the lower your overall score.
  • Sports Hero Backstory: Sam Gideon was an NFL quarterback before he became a DARPA researcher testing out a prototype Powered Armor.
  • Skewed Priorities: After barely catching a ledge in a cutscene, Sam continues hanging over a death drop by one arm to light a cigarette.
  • Snark-to-Snark Combat: Sam and Burns run on this.
    • In Act 2-3, when Sam runs into the two Argus bots:
      [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. Let's go!
    • Again before Act 4-2, at the Grand Coulee Dam:
      Sam: They really rolled out the welcome mat.
      Burns: Must have a thing for VIPs. * Sniping the Cockpit: Taking out the pilot of a light troop transport will bring the vehicle down, taking all its passengers with it.
  • Standard Sci-Fi Fleet: The ship that Sam uses to infiltrate the World Ship Providence looks very similar to a Star Wars Blockade Runner.
  • Stealth Parody: The writer of the review of Vanquish on Gamespot seems to think it is this.
  • Stock Scream: There's a Wilhelm Scream in the cutscene when the Bogey is first introduced.
  • 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.
  • Sword Limbo: Sam Gideon does this when Robert Burns slices at him at the start of the game, Sam successfully limbo dodges thanks to his Powered Armor but also gets his cigarette cut in half in Slow Motion.
  • 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 to find the necessary cover easily. The score system also penalizes you based on how long you've spent your time in cover.
    • 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, roll into a slow-mo shot, hop over cover 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, low 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 Marines.
    Burns: My men are dead. I belong with them!
  • Technology Porn:
    • Sam's ARS suit has parts surrounding the reactor that constantly move, and the parts of his BLADE weapon fold onto each other as it's configured.
    • Zaitsev's Bogey suit, especially its introduction scene, and when it opens its wing pods for a laser attack.
    • The tutorial chamber features 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-like 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 [DARPA] can get a human to the same state."
  • The Many Deaths of You: At first glance, it may appear that Sam has only two death animations, but those are just in standard combat...
    • The most notable non-standard death animation for Sam is the Unknown's finisher, in which it grabs Sam, slices off his head, and crawls away with his body.
    • There's also the Romanov-D: it will suspend Sam in the air with one of its drill arms, which is spinning its way into Sam's torso, before thrusting that same arm into the ground, pinning Sam as he is eviscerated by the drill. Surprisingly, no blood is shed, only sparks (despite how far into Sam's body the drill is by the time the "Mission Failed" screen finally pops up).
    • If you fail the QTE between Sam and Zaitsev during their first duel, Zaitsev will leave a large wound in Sam's chest courtesy of his rifle sword.
    • Reprised with Bogeys Alpha and Bravo in the final battle, where if you don't mash that button hard enough, they knock Sam into the air before he's used as a target for their lasers in midair.
    • Act 3-3 has Sam's falling animation if he fails to cross the bridge in time.
  • The Worm That Walks: The "Unknown" boss consists of a red core and pieces of robotic junk that assemble into various shapes.
  • This Is a Drill: The Romanov-D is equipped with two drills on both arms and can lunge towards you similar to Dante's Stinger. They can also dig through the ground.
  • Thrown Out the Airlock: Happens to your allied soldiers in the prologue, when enemy fire blows open the airlock doors. Fortunately, Sam's suit can hold on to the ground until the airlock doors close.
  • Took a Level in Badass: When Sam stops boosting, he spins out of it feet-first, before landing on his feet. Taken to new heights in the cutscene before the final boss, where Sam boosts off a ramp, spins at least five times in midair, and lands in a kneeling pose on an overhead walkway.
  • Too Kinky to Torture: One of the Marines that you rescue from electrical restraints in Act 1 is a bit more cheerful than the rest.
    Kennedy: Did you rescue the others?
    Sam: Yup, every one.
    Kennedy: Their loss. Those bindings felt great!
    Sam: ...unbelievable.
  • Trapped in Containment: The majority of the Marines stationed on Providence asphyxiate to death when they are unable to get past a blast shield that was closed by Burns to contain a breach in the colony's outer hull.
  • Transforming Mecha:
    • The Argus is a quadrupedal robot that can turn into a bipedal 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.
  • Turns Red: After you defeat one Bogey in the final battle, the other greatly increases its speed. Sam notices this change and orders Elena to disable the limiters on his suit as well.
  • Underground Monkey:
    • The standard Giant Mooks, the Romanovs, also have four varieties with different weapons and abilities.
    • The Gorgies have four variants:
      • The red USN type are The Goomba
      • The yellow USR's lead squads and are more intelligent and well-armed
      • The green USS's are snipers that can kill One-Hit Kill Sam
      • The blue USG's are Elite Mooks with flight capability and the most powerful weapons.
  • Unexpected Shmup Level:
  • Unique Enemy: The "L" version of the Jellyfish only appears in Mission 1-6.
  • Unnecessarily Large Interior: The Providence space colony takes this Up to Eleven.
    • It presumably has an incredibly large population to run all the energy-gathering and converting systems, and they do all have to live somewhere. According to the Operation Dossier, it's considered the fifty-first state of America.
  • Videogame Dashing: Sam has a jet-powered slide dash ability courtesy of his ARS Powered Armor.
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: Sam and Burns. Probably the best explanation for Sam trying to help Burns in Act 5-2, 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, of course.
  • Wake-Up Call Boss: Bogey, despite only being the second boss, can be very frustrating, having high HP, fast flight ability making it difficult to hit with the heavier weapons, Roboteching beam spams just like the player's Lock-On Laser, EMP bombs that cause Sam's armor to overheat, a plasma Chest Blaster that can OneHitKill, and to top it off, a Press X to Not Die sequence at the end.
  • Wave Motion Gun: In its bipedal form, the Argus will occasionally unleash hell in the form of a sweeping "large-radius laser" attack. It sweeps fast enough for you to pray that you have energy for boosting, lest you get incinerated.
    • Zaitsev will do this as well in the final battle. Although his ground-cracking laser cannot be dodged, it doesn't work through cover (just like the Romanov-G's Sam-seeking "missile" — if you can call it that).
  • We Have Reserves: Burns has a really bad case of this.
    Burns: Screw it! Leave 'em! Elena, close this door!
    Sam: So this is how the Marines do business?
    Burns: Marines complete the mission. We don't get the luxury of choosing how.
  • Your Head A-Splode: In the intro cutscene, this happens to several victims of the microwave Kill Sat attack on San Francisco.


Example of: