Vanquish (PC) Review: A Much Needed Upgrade

The Sega port begging campaign that has grown on social media in the last few years seems to have broken through to the execs at Sega. Titles like Valkyria Chronicles and Bayonetta have been ported to PC after countless requests from fans, with both games receiving excellent transitions to the platform. One title in particular has been in the front lines of port begging topics from Sega fans for awhile now and that’s Platinum Games’ over-the-top shooter Vanquish, a shooter that was beloved on last generation consoles that suffered from poor performance and low resolution. Thankfully, Sega heard our cries and delivered a PC port of Vanquish to the Steam platform for the low price of $19.99. Is Vanquish on PC as good as we all dreamed of? Let’s take a look.

For anyone reading this who has not experienced Vanquish, you’re in for a treat. Vanquish is a high-tech third person cover shooter developed by Platinum Games and Shinji Mikami (the creator of Resident Evil) that originally released in 2010 on the Xbox 360 and Playstation 3. The game puts players in the shoes of a DARPA soldier named Sam Gideon who’s tasked at saving America from an invading Russian robotic army set to destroy major cities in the country. Equipped with a cyber suit and a ton of guns, Sam accompanies the U.S. military to stop the Russian threat. The game features some ridiculously cool, over-the-top rocket-propelled sliding mechanics and acrobatics that allow players to slide and jump in and out of cover quickly. The characters and dialog are campy and fun with some cool set pieces sprinkled throughout the six hour campaign. Gameplay is fast-paced, challenging and happens to be one of my personal favorite takes on the popular Gears of War formula that trended during the last generation. Think of Vanquish as Gears of War on speed.

The problem with Vanquish is that the game ran at sub-HD resolutions on last generation hardware and the frame rate struggled to coast at 30 frames per second on both consoles. Due to the fast-paced, frenetic nature of the gameplay, the less-than-ideal frame rate made the game feel sluggish to play at times. Even though the game didn’t sell very well, Vanquish became a cult classic that developed quite a following, but that fan base was dying to play the game in a state that it deserved to be in; a game that utilizes 60 frames per second and full high definiton resolutions that would allow the game to be presented in a more crisper, cleaner way. In comes Sega to save the day.

The PC port of Vanquish is excellent, but not without some flaws. First off, the PC version includes unlocked frame rates, enabling the game to finally run smoother to match the speed of the gameplay. Any modest PC gaming rig can run Vanquish at 60fps with ease and the game feels GLORIOUS this way. Sprinting into a battlefield, jumping over cover, rocket sliding into a better vantage point, and popping off robot heads feels extremely fluid and responsive; something the console version severely lacked. Running the game at resolutions reaching up to 4K allow the visuals its art assets to display much sharper and significantly less muddy as a result. Plenty of graphic options allow PC gamers to tailor the game to their hardware to get the best performance possible. Even though Vanquish supports multiple gamepads, the game feels excellent to play on a keyboard and mouse. I found myself breezing through the game much easier than I did before thanks to the accuracy of the mouse and the well-mapped keyboard controls.

Aside from a higher frame rate and resolution, the game doesn’t look significantly better graphically. The textures are much sharper and the shadow resolution is higher than the console counterparts. Aside from that, don’t expect the game to have a giant boost in the graphics department. Vanquish didn’t really need to be completely overhauled though. Presented at a higher resolution, the game still looks pretty great today and holds up well against similar games from this current generation. A lot of the environments look similar throughout the campaign, which can make the game a little boring to look at visually at times, but thanks to flashy set pieces, changes in gameplay mechanics and the campy cast of characters, I didn’t mind much.

I did find a few things that irked me about Vanquish on PC. The in-game cutscenes are pre-rendered and do not run in the actual engine. The transition between video and gameplay can be jarring since the actual in-game graphics look much sharper and higher resolution than the actual video cutscenes. Given, the cutscenes are higher quality than what was found in the console versions, but not high enough to match those higher resolutions that most players will be running the game at. I also noticed that cutscenes tend to skip and tear frames at times, which was disappointing and hurt the presentation a bit. The text in-game didn’t receive a boost in resolution either, making on-screen text look jaggy and overly large as if Platinum Games simply took the original text and just blew it up on higher resolutions. Platnium didn’t completely overhaul the entire game here, but I also feel like fans didn’t really ask for this anyway. Vanquish also included a bug that tied the damage dealt by enemies to the frame rate, which resulted in higher frame rates causing players to take more damage and die quicker than normal. Luckily, Sega caught this issue quickly and resolved it in less than a week of being released.

Vanquish on PC is easily the best way to experience the game today. The much needed boost in frame rate and resolution allows Vanquish to shine much more brightly than it did on consoles last generation. Sega and Platinum Games managed to make the game look significantly sharper and play much more smoothly on PC hardware that’s capable of running it. Players have plenty of options as to how they want to play the game, whether it be on a Playstation 4 controller or a mouse and keyboard, and all options feel great. The game scales well to a variety of hardware setups and the asking price of $19.99 is very reasonable, even for such a short campaign. If you have yet to experience this speedy, goofy, extremely stylistic shooter then now is the time to do so. A highly recommended purchase for PC gamers and Vanquish fans alike. I hope this isn’t the end of Sega porting great content to other platforms.

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Josh Faulkner

Josh is a native Ohio-an who grew up in a small town that had very little for kids to do. As a result, Josh picked up video games at a very young age. Video games played a huge part in his childhood and continued to do so in his adult life. Starting out on an Atari 2600 when he was 3 years old, gaming has sort of grown up alongside with Josh and continues to be his biggest hobby. As an IT technician by day, Josh is an aspiring gaming writer by night who founded a few websites including 16 Bit Heroes and Too Busy Gaming, while also dabbling in retro gaming YouTube videos and live streaming events.