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Vanquish (PS3) Review + Tips

Posted by guardian_owl , 15 January 2015 · 2649 views

vanquish ps3 review trophy guide
Vanquish (PS3) Review + Tips The story of Vanquish is pretty generic sci-fi stuff. You are a hotshot DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) agent who is testing a new super suit when a massive, orbiting space station is taken control by Russian separatists and fires its main cannon destroying the city of San Francisco. They threaten to destroy New York City next once the cannon recharges so its all hands on deck to recapture the space station in less than a day before that happens. Your character Sam is sent in with the marines on a suicide mission to save New York.

It's a third person, cover-based shooter (On lower difficulties or if you are really good there are a few weapon options that allows you to play more aggressively) in which the majority of the enemies you will fight are a variety of different robotic drones which are under the control of the enemy force. Each have unique abilities and almost all have a weak point or are weak to a certain weapon type.

A WEAPON FOR EVERY SITUATION
There are 8 weapons to choose from (excluding the DLC weapons) which all have roles to play.
1.)The assault rifle which is medium damage, has a lot of ammo, and has medium to long range making it a jack of all trades weapon.
2.)The Heavy Weapon Gun which is another machine gun with a wider spread, much lower ammo count, but 2-3X damage per bullet of the assault rifle making it excellent for quick, short to medium range kills.
3.)The Sniper rifle offers precision long range shooting as well as VERY high damage per shot making it great for killing other snipers and delivering a high volume of damage without having to exit cover for very long.
4.)The shotgun is highly damaging at close range (even more so than the HWG) and will often stagger larger enemies making it a great choice to take on the Romunavs. It is also one of the weapons most improved by upgrades as the fire rate is increased considerably.
5.)The rocket launcher offers very low ammo count (3), but provides massive damage to all enemy types and bosses and you can lock-on to enemies to turn it into a seeking rocket.
6.)The Lock-on laser allows you to lock-on and fire four shots (up to 8 with upgrades) which will fly straight up and then arc down, homing in on your targets to attack them from above. This makes it a great weapon to take down enemies at long range or who turtle behind cover. Additionally if the enemy moves after firing the shot, the lasers will alter course mid-flight in order to strike them, that makes it an excellent weapon to target flying or fast moving enemies.
7.)The disc launcher fires a slow moving disc in a straight line which will instantly dismember any limb or extremity it touches on non-boss enemies. You can shoot out legs to immobilize enemies, chop off arms to disable weapons they are carrying, or decapitate them to make them blind.
8.)The LFE gun fires a medium damage, large bubble of energy in a straight line. This makes it a good weapon to use if overrun by a swarm of weaker enemies as you can take a lot of enemies in one shot. It's unique ability is it can pass through armor and walls, so if an enemy is behind cover or retreats into its protective shell and where you can't damage it with normal fire, the LFE gun shot will still damage it. Against larger enemies it will cause them to fly backward, staggering them 3-4X longer than a shotgun blast.

You can have 3 weapons equipped (of 8 possible) at a time and switch to them at will with the D-pad, the fourth slot is used to toggle between a stun (EMP) and a timed explosive grenade. I would have preferred a slightly more convoluted method to switch grenade type (such as selecting the weapon you already have equipped with the dpad again) in exchange for having a slot on the dpad for a fourth gun as the EMP stun grenade is ridiculously more useful than the explosive grenade (though you can shoot it in mid-air to cause a massive explosion) so I almost never switched off it. You also cannot switch out the 3 equipped weapons at will, you have to wait until the weapon you want pops up in an ammo box (which spawns a random weapon when opened) or on a gun rack and then you have the option to swap the weapon you have equipped in that slot for the gun on the ground.

The upgrade system allows you to increase the damage, max ammo, fire speed etc. of every weapon
I don't really like the mechanics of upgrade system, it is needlessly convoluted. When more difficult enemies are killed they randomly have the chance to drop an upgrade cube which when picked up will upgrade the weapon you currently have active by 1 full level. Since it is random, if one drops and you die before the next check point you "lose" the upgrade since it probably won't reappear when you kill the same enemy again.

The other way to upgrade weapons is when your weapon has completely full ammo, picking up another iteration of that weapon will upgrade it 1/3 of a level. This means either not using your favorite weapon in order to upgrade it, or using a convoluted method to game the system. If you find another iteration of the gun and you don't have full ammo, swap the partially used gun for a different weapon you don't already have equipped as a placeholder, swap out the placeholder for the fresh version of the gun, then go back and pick up your partially used gun and you will get the 1/3 upgrade. It would have been so much less tedious if picking up a weapon you already have equipped refilled your ammo and gave you the 1/3 upgrade.

Upgrades are also not persistent across playthroughs, when you start a new game (or even if you pick a chapter in chapter select) all your weapon levels are reset to zero. I imagine this has something to do with being able to upload scores and completion times to a leaderboard. It would have been preferable to have a free play mode which keeps your weapon level and score attack mode which temporarily resets all your weapon levels to zero for the duration of the level.

JACKASS IN A NIMBLE TIN CAN
What makes Vanquish so enjoyable are the special abilities of the suit. It features a temperature gauge which depletes as you use the special abilities and then regens fairly quickly once you stop. If the temperature gauge reaches critical, then it overheats and you move slower and can't use any of your special abilities until it fully recharges back to 100%.

The first power you have are rocket jets which allow you to drop to your knees and boost around the battlefield to get from cover to cover and avoid damage. You can shoot while boosting and even press the melee button to deliver a devastating, rocket-propelled powered kick to an enemy. I cannot convey through text what a joy it is to zip around the battlefield while rocket sledding, you are not a walking tank you are incredibly agile instrument of death.

The other main power is a form of bullet time called Augmented Reality, which slow down the action allowing you to more easily target enemies. You can even boost and go into AR at the same time. If you take too much damage, AR will automatically activate locked into the "on" position until your suit overheats. This gives you time to get to safety so that your HP and Temp gauge can regen. One small problem with AR is you can't use it from cover or when standing still, you can only activate it when rocket boosting or during a roll. That became an issue sometimes while playing as when you activate bullet time during a roll its like you are doing it from a crouched position so you can't shoot over railings or if you are in tall grass it obstructs your view.

The melee button is cool, and it is neat that it changes depending on which weapon you have equipped but using it immediately puts you into full overheat (can't activate bullet time) which leaves you completely defenseless. In almost all situations it is preferable to manually activate bullet time (which slowly depletes temp gauge) and go for head shots rather than melee. Why give you such a deep melee system when using it has such heavy drawbacks compared to the meager benefits? There is one weapon that consumes ammo instead of overheating when you use it, but it does damage so slowly that if there is any other enemy on the field you are likely to get hit and knocked out of the animation. Melee should have only depleted a portion of your gauge or at the very least, put you less than 100% into overheat. If you are locked into forced bullet time due to taking too much damage, near the end of the slow is a good time to use the melee attack as you are going to be forced into overheat anyway.

When you are about to get tired of just doing cover shooting is usually when they switch up the mechanic or action set piece. You might man a mounted machine gun to protect a convoy moving forward, have to fight your way quickly across a crumbling highway, ride a train slowly through enemy territory as you silently snipe lookouts from a distance to avoid raising the alarm, or fight your way up a hill with a platoon of marines in tow as broken piece of the space station roll down. There is even an interesting (if unfortunately very short) section where you fight with no gravity.
Unfortunately the game features QTEs, most often in boss battles so be ready. Some failed QTEs just cause the boss fight to be harder, but others cause you to die and have to start the whole fight over again (I lost a few upgrade cubes because of this).

PRESENTATION
The story has your expected end-game twists and characters you thought you could trust turn out not to be trustworthy, All characters are suitably voice acted, if a bit campy at times, but they are definitely in on the joke. The acerbic banter between your character and the squad leader Burns is always amusing. I had heard that it ended on a cliffhanger and thankfully that's not really the case, it has the equivalent of a Marvel movie post-credits scene which sets up a possible sequel scenario, but the central conflict that started the game is resolved.

The world is quite well built, the space station the game takes place in is absolutely massive with lots of open space, it is like a major city. The aesthetic (particularly the opening of the game) is very much Starship Trooper-sy filtered through the POV of a Japanese developer, they even repeat a famous line from that film. The enemy designs are suitably generic for what would be common robot soldiers whereas as the rarer enemies and bosses are designed with much more flair. The designs on all of these drones are excellent and are easily distinguishable from a distance so you know what type you are fighting and can plan accordingly. The graphics are great with a lightning quick frame rate. The HUD very much looks like the display Sam would see in the suit as it uses a stark color palette of red, green, and white and provides enough information that you can easily see everything you need to know from a quick glance. When you enter AR the world shifts into a blue tint which is different enough to indicate you are in slow without impeding your ability to see.
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The game tracks your statistics for your playthrough (enemies killed, friendlies lost, time to complete, etc.) and scores you accordingly and uploads that to a leaderboard. Also included are 6 challenge maps which feature a certain amount of waves of enemies for you to complete. Some are maps easier than others, but the 6th will push you to your limits (completing all 6 are a trophy requirement for the plat)

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It is quite fun and fluid to play and at 6 to 8 hours, doesn't overstay its welcome. I completed it on hard which wasn't too difficult other than a few small areas that didn't have much cover and a couple of boss fights (particularly the last one when you take 2 enemies at the same time). On harder difficulties you have to rely a bit too much on cover making it less possible to play more aggressively (I was barely able to make use of the shotgun for example in my hard playthrough, but that may be because I didn't level it early).

A more streamlined weapon upgrade system would have been preferred as juggling weapons to get a version with full ammo so that picking up the partially used one you started with will upgrade it, is needlessly cumbersome. It also would have been nice to have a few ways to customize the mech to more better fit your playstyle, such as the ability to increase defense, or increase boost speed, or reduce stamina consumption for melee, etc.at the expense of other attributes. The suit never really changes or gets any new ability during the course of play.

BOTTOMLINE:
Generic Sci-fi story with good banter. really fun and satisfying gunplay, and a button you can press to take a smoke break. The cumbersome upgrade system only slightly dampens the fun. The best game I played in 2014.

TIPS:
*You can do everything in one playthrough, but there are some level specific trophies that will probably be too difficult to do on hard so for the first playthrough I would just play through blind and then get the level specific trophies and any collectables you miss on a follow-up easy playthrough. After finishing Challenge 6 you should be able to breeze through easy really quickly.

*The assault rifle is a good general weapon to focus on upgrading early with upgrade cubes (which upgrades the active weapon a full level) as it does decent damage, has a nice range, and has a huge ammo pool ensuring you always have a weapon to fall back on if the others run out of ammo. It is also a really common drop in ammo crates so you can get quite a few 1/3 partial upgrades by picking them up when your ammo is full on that weapon. By mid-game and in later levels you will want to save your upgrade cubes for weapons that don't show up as often as random drops like the rocket launcher or the sniper rifle.

*If you can spare the weapon slot, it is a good idea to keep a shotgun equipped in the early game even if you don't use it as drops really often allowing you to get a lot of 1/3 level upgrades. It is a weapon that improves a great deal through upgrades as the magazine size almost doubles and the fire rate improves to at least 2X speed greatly increasing the usefulness of the weapon in later levels.

*The level of a weapon is indicated by the amount of stars it has on the weapon flag on the HUD, 4 stars equals upgrade level 4. At the bottom of the flag is a bolded V, this indicates partial upgrades. If the bottom of the flag is all the same color then there is no partial upgrade. If the bottom is bolded, then you are a 1/3rd of the way toward your next upgrade. If there is a second V then you are 2/3rds of the way to your next upgrade. Once you get your 3rd 1/3rd upgrade, the bottom of the flag will revert to a dim V and another star will be added to the flag. The Assault Rifle, shotgun, HWG, and sniper rifle can be upgraded to a max of lvl 10, the rest to a max of lvl 6. When at max level the stars will be replaced by a large emblem.

*Whenever possible, make use of the weapon swap method to do a 1/3 of a level upgrade even if the gun you have equipped is not full, this works as long as the equipped weapon you want to partially upgrade is not empty. If one of your weapons does not have full ammo and a fresh one drops from an ammo crate you can still upgrade it. Find a weapon on the battlefield you do not currently have equipped as one of your 3. Pick up that weapon D in place of the partially full weapon you want to upgrade (this will drop the partial weapon to the ground). Now go back to the ammo crate and swap out weapon D for the fresh weapon. Walk back to where you dropped the partial one and pick it up and it will give you the 1/3 upgrade. By doing this you aren't forced not to use weapons you want to upgrade.

*If an ally is downed, they will fall on the ground with a green medical cross above them. if you get to them before they die and press the button to shoot them up with adrenaline they will reward you by dropping a random weapon or grenade pick-up.

*If you boost melee into a wall or ally (and you don't hit an enemy) you will do a somersault and jump into the air without going into overheat. While in somersault, you can do slow to shoot enemies without cover being in your way.

*Romanovs, (the larger enemies with drills on their hands, flamethrower, or the missile launch on their backs) when decapitated with the disc launcher, will self-destruct in 1 minute.

TROPHY HELP:
*Living Legend - Complete the game without dying. Like most trophies that require finishing the game without dying, you can game the system. Whenever you die, DO NOT select continue from the game over screen. Instead exit to the main menu and select continue from there.

*ARS Operator - Complete the game on Hard. There is a difficulty level requirement, you must beat the game on hard difficulty. Thankfully it is unlocked from the start so if you want to do everything in one playthrough you can even if I don't recommend it. I do recommend starting on hard difficulty though.

*The Best of all Possible Worlds - the collectibles trophy. In each level there will be four statues some in plain sight but a lot will be hidden. To collect the trophy, shoot it with your weapon, it will make a noise and then turn red. Even if you die before a checkpoint, shooting the collectible will still be saved. It also tells you on chapter select how many of the four you have picked up so it is easy to see which ones you have missed. I didn't worry about hunting for collectibles on my first run, I did a complete casual run instead of jumping around to pick-up the ones I missed since I had to do the level specific trophies I missed as well as get 100 melee kills for that trophy.

*Failure Breeds Success - Destroy 2 Argus robots in Act 2-3 in Bipedal mode. This isn't very clear, this boss fight has 2 Argus robots, one on several legs and the other on two. Attack the one on several legs until the QTE comes up that would normally destroy it if you succeeded. Fail the QTE on purpose and the robot will knock you off and enter bipedal mode. Then simply destroy it and the other already on two legs for the trophy.

*Home Run (God) - Destroy 10 incoming missiles or grenades. Pretty simple, there is a Romonav type that will launch a missile from his back. As soon as you hear it beeping that means it is getting ready to launch, go slow and shoot the missile before it exits to blow it and the Romonav robot up. Or you can target grenades flying at you in the air while still airborne.

*Auld Lang Syne & Smoke'em if you Got'em - Destroy 2 enemies distracted by a cigarette / destroy 10 enemies distracted by a cigarette in one mission. A good mission to get this is right after you protected the two transports on the way to the Kreon Battlecruiser. Just before getting on board there will be a part of the cruiser than opens and has 15-20 common foot soldier type robots all clumped together on battlements firing at you. Once you have located them, walk back to the ammo crates, pick-up a rocket launcher, get into cover near then, and then press L2 to start smoking. As soon as you toss the cigarette, exit cover, aim with the rocket launcher, and fire into the cluster of enemies. You should get it possibly in 1 cigarette, but certainly with the 2nd.
*Tactical Challenger - Complete all 6 challenge maps. Challenge 1-5 probably won't be that difficult for someone who has beaten hard mode. Play it a few times and if you get stuck you can look up strategies on youtube. Enemies will mostly react the same each time so it is easy to copy the strategy in the video to succeed. Challenge 6 is pretty unpredictable, particularly in round 2 and 5, so I am linking to my Challenge 6 guide which advocates using the cover method to survive wave 5. This is by far the hardest trophy.

CHALLENGE #6 BLOG:
Bonus content, relive my frustration as I go a little insane while trying to beat challenge 6 over a period of 10 days.
Oct 1st:
Vanquish challenge 4 and 5 down, what mostly tripped me up in 4 (which is the hardest one of the original 5 challenge maps) were the earlier waves. Wave 1 has about a dozen ninja and 2 flamethrower romanovs (which put you immediately into overheat if they hit you) in close proximity. Then wave 1 goes immediately into wave 2 and I could never figure out where to shoot the life gun (fires a slow moving 5 foot wide bubble of energy) to kill the spawning weaker enemies. Then in wave 3 the corridor is narrow and the "unknown" boss has an instant death melee attack so that kept tripping me up. Once I got past wave 3 it just took me 2 tries to get through wave 4 and 5. Now onto challenge 6, the balls hard one.

Oct 3rd:
Wave 1 of challenge 6 is easy but tedious and time consuming. Stuck on wave 2, Bogey moves so fast and recovers so fast from stun grenades and there are so many other minor enemies spread out that you can't just focus on the Bogey boss as the others will plink you into overheat which is a death sentence. Also I can never dodge roll to avoid his instant death laser since he turns the gun up until the moment he fires. Need to find a reliable way to quickly take out the minor enemies so I can chip at the Bogey until it is under half HP then boost kick him to kill him.

I wish the explosive grenades were sticky grenades or I had the option to manually detonate them early, easily by pressing in R3 and L3 like the det charges, part of the reason I never used them in the campaign is they are so bouncy that they never stop where I want them to stop. The only way I could ever use them was to slow down time and shoot them with my rifle, but even that isn't 100% reliable as there is enough spread on the shot than it can miss the grenade as it falls and once it gets behind an obstruction that's not an option.

Oct 6th:
Vanquish Update - Bogey Red and Blue, I loathe the two of you.

Oct 8th:
That was just cruel, every time I was close to being out of overheat, blue bogey would zip in and melee me to put me back into forced slowmo and then overheat, It happened 3 times in a row before I finally died. I just now figured out that they bumped up the HP of them as I was able to boost kick one of them and instead of losing 1/2 HP like in round two it only took off like 1/6 of their HP. I don't know why some of the guides say if you can beat round 4 you can beat round 5 as round 4 is much easier than 5 as the difficulty is all front-loaded at the start of the round 4.

Oct 9th:
Bah, it's not often that I can bullshit on a Challenge 6 run, but that one was bullshit. Was in a good groove and had one of them down to half HP. The other one has basically 3 levels of shot; normal machine gun fire, or a charged shot which goes off every 4 seconds, or a high damage, super charge laser that fires a large, continuous beam. I wasn't even using any boost, just dodge rolling when I got hit by one mid-level charge shot and instead of putting me into overheat it immediately killed me for no apparent reason.

Oct 11th:
Bogey Blue and Red, your challenge I did dread, across the battlefield you sped, and repeatedly my blood was shed, as over my flailing corpse did you tread, but the last laugh I will have said, because finally YOUR Fucking dead!

So ultimately Vanquish Challenge 6 was harder than Monaca Dash Circuit in 3D Dot Game Heroes, though I found the later far more annoying as it was just endless, tedious repetition of the same thing every 22 seconds (about the time it takes to do a lap) over and over for hours in order to get the time down to under 65 seconds for 3 laps. At least challenge 6 engages you as you have to respond to the sometimes unpredictable AI. I am so thankful you don't have to finish the Vanquish challenges under a certain time limit for the trophy as I hate timed events. My time for challenge 6 was 23:36.

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I totally loved this game.  I'm really hoping for a PC port at some point so I can add it to my historic collection.  I'd love to play through it again.