My goal for these strategy guide reviews is not to discuss whether one needs the guide to complete the game. Every gamer has different strengths and skills, and one may need every bit of a guide, another may need to look up information for quick assistance once, and another may laugh at the idea of ever using a guide, even the online freebies. My goal is to determine whether the guide is 1) helpful in the first place, 2) does it encompass gamers who need hand-holding as well as those who need a quick reference and 3) how much information does it really have.
It’s really hard not to compare the [amazon-product text=”Vanquish strategy guide” type=”text”]0744012600[/amazon-product] with the [amazon-product text=”Bayonetta strategy guide” type=”text”]3869930039[/amazon-product], and that’s mainly because of the similarity between the two games. Both games revolve around speed, flair, and high scores, so it’s only natural that the guides would be structured similarly to one another.
However, unlike Bayonetta, the Vanquish guide is NOT for players looking how to get through the game. To be honest, you can take your time and treat it like any other third-person shooter with a little flair and still beat the game in less than 8 hours. You might need the guide for finding all of those odd little Pangloss statues, but seriously, if you duck behind things and shoot, you can finish the game with zero assistance.
But why play it that way, when it’s most definitely not how it is supposed to be played? Enter the Vanquish strategy guide.
In another similarity to Bayonetta, Vanquish focuses on how quickly you burn through a mission and you earn points for doing so. Vanquish has its own leaderboards, and the only way to rank above the hundreds of thousands is to complete a mission in as little time as possible on the hardest difficulty possible. The guide is your key for doing so, and as you do, only then will you see the true brilliance of the seemingly simple game.
This isn’t to say that if you just want to play the game and find all the collectibles that the guide isn’t for you. Several of the Pangloss statues take some serious digging for, and even then, a few can only be collected during boss fights, where your attention normally isn’t on looking for collectibles. In addition, the guide warns players of devastating boss attacks and ambushes, which are always welcome whether you’re trying for the leaderboards or not. Some of the crazy, speedy suggestions for missions are also fun just to try out on any difficulty level.
But, if ranking in the leaderboards does appeal to you, then you’ll feel that this guide was made especially for you. What the guide considers a general walkthrough is really only meant for those who play on the Hard difficulty. The guide suggests that players take their time through a mission playthrough, learn the lay of the land, and find the statues, but then you can replay the mission on any difficulty you want so you can try to get those high scores.
After the general walkthrough, the guide provides a Velocity walkthrough that is strictly for players who want to complete each mission in the fastest time possible on God Hard mode. Yes, you read that right. When you complete the game on any difficulty, you unlock God Hard mode, which is, indeed God Hard. Hence why the guide has a second walkthrough just for this mode.
Both walkthroughs include movie codes for watching how the Future Press pros completed the task that you can redeem online when you register your guide. Future Press did this for their Bayonetta guide as well, and I love this idea not just for the extra assistance (for example, I could have used this with the Uncharted 2 guide, where I had to actually look up videos of gameplay to understand what the guide was suggesting) but also for the fact that it’s a nice answer to online guides with video clips. (I’ll explore this a little more when I compare the print and online guides.)
And of course, as every guide should be, this one is ripe with appendices, and these appendices are actually helpful. There’s an Achievement/Trophy guide with tips on how to earn each one, maps for the Pangloss statues, information on the downloadable content, and a separate guide for the tactical challenges that unlock. As an extra bonus, there’s a quick reference bonus card attached to the back cover that lists clear times for the clear bonuses, weapon info, and scoring info for enemies, bosses, etc.
The guide’s back cover says that the book is all about speed and leaderboards, and while this is quite true, it doesn’t mean that others looking for simply a fun third-person shooter experience won’t find as much value within. That’s far from the truth. The purpose of a guide is to present to the player the best strategies and how to find everything, and the Vanquish strategy guide definitely does that for any difficulty level. (Remember, there are Casual and Casual: Auto leaderboards too!) I could not find anything wrong with the information, I didn’t wish for different page design, and I can’t think of anything it didn’t have.
So yes, Future Press’s strategy guide for Vanquish gets a 5/5.