Tag Archives: Action

Vanquish or: Wait For Year End to Choose a GOTY

To be fair, Vanquish isn’t my favourite of 2010, mainly because I love Red Dead that much, but also as it has a story that makes me feel less intelligent for having sat through it and can be finished off in a few hours. The four hours that was being bandied around before its release seems a touch on the harsh side – I did it in a hair under six hours on normal difficulty – but it would be enough for me to question the value of a full-price purchase. Find it for something around the £12.98 that I paid in the post-Christmas sales, though, and you shouldn’t hesitate.


Vanquish is just a good old-fashioned blast, of the kind that Japanese developers would have been pumping out with some regularity had they not gone to shit this generation. It takes the handful of things that I like from the Devil May Cry and God of War kind of games and mixes them with a dash of Gears-style cover shooter, and it ends up being one of the best of both styles. More accessible than DMC, more varied and deeper than God of War, and faster and more intense than Gears of War.

Although it’s developed by Platinum with Shinji Mikami at the helm, it’s published by Sega and feels like something that would have come out on the Dreamcast in its all-too-brief heyday. In that respect it’s like Bayonetta, not ashamed of the fact that it’s a video game and revelling in its lunacy and heritage. The story is utter shite most of the time, with characters who make cardboard cutouts look deep and some absolutely barking twists and turns that won’t do much to convince gaming’s detractors of its storytelling strengths, but even with these flaws and a slight feeling that it peaks too early, I can’t help but love it.

Platinum’s fast becoming one of my favourite developers, just because it’s proud of its and gaming’s heritage, and the enthusiasm shines through in its games. This and Bayonetta are two superlative examples of games from crowded genres that manage to possess great originality and polish, and they really buck the trend of the downturn in Japanese gaming so far this generation.

As long as Platinum’s fruitful relationship with Sega continues, I’m going to keep playing its games in a little time warp. Dreamcast 2: not just a console but a state of mind.

On Gears of War 2

I finished Gears of War 2 the other day. It took me far longer than it should have done because of a slightly doughy patch in its middle that I needed a push through, but overall it was a better game than the first in every way. Crude and brainless, yes, but is that a bad thing?

There are a lot of gamers who will hold up games like Gears 2 as the worst thing to ever happen to gaming, somehow responsible for denying the medium its rightful place among the ‘respected’ entertainment media, but I think that there’s always a place for this kind of thing. Besides the point that no one except gamers takes it that seriously, you’re barking up the wrong tree if you think that games aren’t respected enough because of testosterone-fuelled action games.

Gears of War 2 - The Hollow

Aliens, Terminator 2, Die Hard, Star Wars, Indiana Jones, The Matrix… All of these movies are, to various extents, considered to be classics, if not in general then certainly of their genre. They might have some cod philosophy to please the chin-stroking crowd, but at the end of the day you watch them to see people with guns doing cool shit.

Gears is the same as that. It’s as subtle as a brick, but it looks amazing – see the above shot – the tight action is second to none when it’s on a roll and, on the whole, I just had a brilliant time with it. Is it art? Who cares? I’d prefer movie posters and comic book artwork on my walls to Monet, and I’d prefer Gears to a game that’s trying to be clever for the sake of it. At least Gears of War is honest about the fact that it’s a game, and the point of them is to be fun.

If you’re looking to Gears to bring you closer to enlightenment you’re barking up the wrong tree – hell, it’s barely even a tree in that case – and I won’t come away from it as a better person, but I got to ride a fucking Brumak!