Vanquish: is this breakneck shooter way too short?

Games can be needlessly long. Some of us on GR have yearned for a short, ultra-slick experience that we can replay over and over just because it's so good. And Vanquish fills that criteria perfectly. Or does it? Two GR editors have finished the game, with wildly differing opinions.

Vanquish is too short

I'm a huge fan of Bayonetta, so the prospect of getting my hands on another glossy megaton release from Platinum Games had me very excited, especially as the demo was so good. However, having finished it in around 6 hours, it does indeed feel short – especially as much of that time is filled with recycled content. I would go so far as to say that the genuinely unique content would probably only fill half of that time.

For instance, the technical accomplishment of having two of the Argus behemoths on the screen is phenomenal, but at heart it's still just the same enemy you beat at the end of the first level, only now you have to beat it twice. That's a very old method of making games longer – a throwback from the days when the technology limited the variety of enemies you could face.

This re-use of pretty much everything means the end of the game probably comes at the right time. It couldn't get away with another time around the table without looking cheap. So what is there to do once you've finished it? The £40 hole in your wallet demands more.

The idea is that you replay it for better scores, and to channel this Challenge mode gives you set scenarios to beat, complete with leaderboards. A nice idea, but again recycling content you've already become very familiar with. These challenges are absolutely rock hard, and after three or four more hours just trying to beat mission 1, I was so familiar with spawn locations and enemy weak points, my first completion was good enough for 47th on the global leaderboard.

At this point, the game changes from a test of your reaction and skills to a test of memory. Which weapons should you carry for each round, where you should stand when the next wave spawns in… that's making the game longer through repetition, not from actual new content. Compare it to MGS4, which has a similar level of graphical gloss and quality, but feels way more varied.

I'm whining, I know. I have no problem with the quality of the action, which has been condensed into a gameplay experience so pure it makes Killzone 2 look decidedly amateurish. Vanquish is clearly deserving of its high review score just because the experience and universe itself is so much better than almost everything else around. But I do question whether the actual length of time it takes to see all the original content is worth £40… especially when the demo contains all of the key elements and costs nothing.

Vanquish is not too short

Vanquish isn't over too soon. It finishes exactly when it should finish. It's a fast game. It plays fast and it's over fast. That's Vanquish. I wasn't disappointed when I reached the end. Not for one minute did the lightning brevity make me sad. I was too busy shooting the developer's faces during the credit sequence and relishing the prospect of playing through it again but harder to really give it much thought.

I don't argue that Vanquish is shorter than a lot of other games. But flying in the face of convention should not be considered a terrible thing. Quite the opposite in fact. I love that Shinji Mikami and Platinum Games and Sega have had the balls to release something that is such an unashamedly distilled gaming experience. No nonsense. No bullshit. No contrived half-assed attempt to tick all the precious marketing boxes.

Maybe I've been getting free games for too long, but I struggle to comprehend how any gamer could feel short-changed by Vanquish. It's an absolute thing of beauty. The world is nothing less than a work of art. Every aspect of the game feels as though it has been lavished and loved with the kind of laser-focused attention-to-detail that other games would do well to aspire to. I can't remember the last time a game's weapon-change animation actually gave me a boner.

Would such an all-over abundance of polish have been possible if the game was twice as long? I seriously doubt it. If the only fault of a game is that it's over too quickly, shit, give me that game to play over the stodgy, flabby, can barely support its own fat-ass 30 hour slog-a-thon any day of the week. Quantity is cheap. Quality is priceless. And Vanquish is quality.

If you've got Vanquish, join the debate in the comments and tell us what you think.

Oct 25, 2010

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  • philipshaw - October 26, 2010 7:24 p.m.

    I have to agree with Justin, I know the game seems awesome but paying £40 for 6 hours is too much for me. I just bought Fallout: New Vegas on Friday for £40 but at least I know that game can last 100 hours if I want it to. I will still get Vanquish at some point but will definitely wait until Christmas or when it's cheaper in the January sales
  • Lionzest7 - October 26, 2010 5:30 p.m.

    Tip, if it's too short, crank the difficulty up.
  • nai1210 - October 26, 2010 12:40 p.m.

    Just picked it up for £37 pound and got alpha protocol for free with it i am only on level 2-1 and seems pretty cool,didn't think much of it after playing the demo only picked it up as i have a lot of faith in platinum games and want to support them so they get to keep making original games,it's certainly much cooler than the demo,it may be short but i reckon you would have to play the shit out of this to get good scores,i must admit i'm finding it pretty hard to get decent scores,hope there is a level select upon completion for going for scores
  • michaelpreston - October 26, 2010 1:03 a.m.

    I have never played this game, any prequels, sequels, etc. I have one question...Why does the main character's shoulder armor have the word "DARPA" on it in white/all caps? (DARPA is a real-world research company that deals with the US military.) Strange coincidence or in-game advertising?
  • JakeyBaby - October 26, 2010 12:04 a.m.

    I actually love it. I didn't even think of it as short. I played it on hard mode, and got to the end in around 3 - 4 hours (Mission time). However, all of those 3 - 4 hours was an adrenaline fueled rush and I loved every second. Any longer and I would physically and mentally be suffering. The challenge modes are actually doing that to me within minutes too! Worth every penny!
  • SuperStingray - October 26, 2010 12:02 a.m.

    Mikami said the development of Vanquish went very smoothly, which, in today's industry, means they didn't do enough. I love Vanquish, and I'm still playing it, but I was kind of expecting something longer and a tad less recycle-y from the makers of Okami and Bayonetta. God Hard IS hard, but if you do manage to complete it, it doesn't really offer anything after that.
  • PooPSock - October 25, 2010 11:24 p.m.

    Matt's got my vote on this. Vanquish is bottled brilliance. When that bottle opens, it pours out action as fast, bright and captivating as lightning. In this certain opinionated response, I say Justin should throw in the Towell (pun intended). My final words: POW
  • batmanboy11 - October 25, 2010 10:03 p.m.

    It sucks that 6 hour shooters have become so common...
  • Smeggs - October 25, 2010 9:36 p.m.

    Played the demo, it was ok. for six hours of gameplay definatly not somehting I'll be forking over $60 for. Also I was pissed that in the demo enemies would rape my health so quickly when going at them that I didn't really get to use the epic melee actions.
  • shadowreaper72 - October 25, 2010 8:58 p.m.

    I dont mind if a game is short and it has good multiplayer like Medal of Honor but if the multiplayer sucks or the game has no multiplayer the game just isnt worth buying no matter how damn good it is. I always just gamefly games like this due to its extremely short nature.
  • Clovin64 - October 25, 2010 8:28 p.m.

    I prefer quality rather than quantity. I'm getting less and less time to play games as my college workload begins to get heavier, so a short and sweet game sounds lovely to me, but Justin's complaints about the games repetitation and cheap challenge levels concern me. Maybe I should wait until the price goes down...
  • Pruman - October 25, 2010 8:23 p.m.

    If it only takes 6 hours, I'll immediately start playing again on Hard. It's that good.
  • WickedSid - October 25, 2010 8:06 p.m.

    Its like a really good/original song, after a few listens you know you want more. Vanquish 2, anyone?
  • Felixthecat - October 25, 2010 8:05 p.m.

    I have yet to purchase Vanquish, simply because I want more length for £40 (honestly, that's the only reason I haven't bought it yet), but Platinum Games haven't disappointed me so far at all. Bayonetta is one of my very favourite games ever.
  • Strangleme - October 25, 2010 7:58 p.m.

    I don't give a fuck how short it is!! Bayonetta was incredible and I love Madworld. Vanquish looks fucking amazing and i am all for supporting titles from Platinum games.
  • Aletheon - October 25, 2010 7:22 p.m.

    @foxy explosion LOL. exactly. in today's world, complaining is as common and natural as breathing.
  • Aletheon - October 25, 2010 7:19 p.m.

    Nah, the game is not over too short. The whole thing was so intense and polished that by the time my six and a half hours was up, it had felt more like twelve. Plus, I'll be going back to beat it on Hard, then God Hard, not to mention the 6 challenges. If I want to get critical about it, the game could have really put things over the top if they had added a boss battle after the current final bosses that included a new enemy and some elaborate multi-faceted fight....sure, that would have been great!
  • oryandymackie - October 25, 2010 5:41 p.m.

    Who do you think would in a fight between Justin Towell and Matt Cundy? I'm backing a fight.
  • SausageLozenge - October 25, 2010 5:21 p.m.

    With a loaded fall, I'm looking for value. I don't rent games and I don't trade the ones I buy. I have a monthly budget that allows me to buy a game a month. I definitely want Vanquish, but I can't just buying a 6 hour game for $60 that I'm going to beat in 2 days. I can usually pick games like this a year later for $20.
  • Ravenbom - October 25, 2010 5:20 p.m.

    No matter how you sum it up, Vanquish is a rental. It might be the best rental game ever made but it's still a rental.