Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Vanquish, pt.2: Fluff

For part two, some focus on fluff.

Story never really caught my attention while playing Vanquish, but it thankfully never detracted. Nowadays, if a game intros a hardass, it's hard to get me interested in their personality, and the protagonist of Vanquish is barely altered by the events that take place. The whole Russia vs. US thing came across so quickly as a mere backdrop for destruction that I hardly paid attention to storytelling reveals.

Part of the quick tune out might have something to do with playing a game by Shinji Mikami (Vanquish, Resident Evil) or Hideki Kamiya (Devil May Cry, Bayonetta), who collectively remind me of Ed Wood. Their story sensibilities -- assuming their games are good indicators -- are cheesy fun at best. When the story misses, as it did here, I start to wonder if the aim is always epic, and "cheesy-fun" is just a common but accidental salvage.

That the story is a forgettable is a bit of a shame, too, since I really love that they used a Rama-like vessel as the setting for the game. The visuals were fun, and some of the situations were interesting, but hardly any of the sci-fi potential is explored.

Several articles have recently waxed on about the decline of hardcore gaming in Japan, partly evidenced by the rise of God of War clones, and presumably Vanquish is a deliberate take on Gears of War. Considering this, I felt the game pulled off what it needed to mechanically, and the story didn't seemed that far from par despite being forgettable. It seems strange to declare that in my opinion, the music is what held it back most from feeling like Halo or a Gears of War.

The soundtrack is all blippety bloop techno music that made the story's attempt at consequence that much less effective at reaching me. But when I imagine an orchestral score attached to my game experience, I have to wonder if it would have achieved everything it hoped to for a Western audience. Whether Gears is cheesy or not, I know the music constantly worked overtime to convince me it wasn't.

Next up, kinesthetics and mechanics.

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