Who remembers The Descent? A rollicking horror adventure that was more than the sum of its parts, despite stealing pretty much every single aspect of the film from every single horror that had already been made in the last few decades from the characters, to the location, even down to the crumby, but traditional horror flick ending. Such an analogy can be used to describe Vanquish in relation to every single 3rd person action game since the start of the seventh generation of consoles. Vanquish is a thoroughly ridiculous and unashamedly superficial game that chewed up the Gears Of War trilogy and spat out everything that didn’t involve firing a gigantic gun at a robotic monster with 100 or more gigantic guns, all firing at you.
The game sweats adrenaline, bullets and alpha-male homoeroticism at any chance it gets and escalates the struggle of style over substance to all-out war - there’s a button for simply smoking a cigarette and then throwing it away, not even attempting to shoehorn in a reason for doing so; like the way Metal Gear Solid promoted chain-smoking as a sniping aid. It’s single-player only, and the campaign will last between 6 and 10 hours, but the game has that unique replayability of titles such as Starwing and Time Crisis that keeps you coming back again and again for just… one… more… delicious… explosion. When a game gives you rocket-propelled knees it’s hard to pretend there’s any sense of pacing. Similarly, when a game is this much fun it’s hard to complain.
If you’re looking for depth on the level of Skyrim or Mass Effect, turn around and start running now, you’ll find no trivialities such as ‘story’ and ‘character development’ here. If you’re looking for a fast-paced action game where you get to blow up thousands of enemies that are already exploding, and thought Ikaruga was about as intense as a Teletubby's naptime, you can’t really do a lot better. It’s buckets of fun and a perfect stopover until Darksiders 2 in August. It’s available for as low as €14.99 in game stores right now.
Or, if you’re not the kind of gamer that likes spending money, you could do an awful lot worse than check out the online catalogue of free Stab Yourself games, with the mind-bending, dimension-shifting Orthorobot being the pick of that particular bunch. Stab Yourself accepts donations via PayPal, but they don’t actually want you to stab yourself, in case that wasn’t all that clear.