Frenetic, violent third-person shooter is for adults only.

What parents need to know

Positive messages

Violence drowns out everything else this frenetic shooter. Futuristic military action is sensationalized and glorified; all of the game’s entertainment is derived from it.

Positive role models

Our hero is clearly on the right side, fighting to save the United States from a rogue Russian military sect with the power to wipe out entire cities with the push of a button. However, all of his actions in the game revolve around intense violence.

Ease of play

Controls are more complex than those of an average shooter, but shouldn’t pose much of a problem for experienced players. However, the difficulty level swerves unpredictably. Standard enemy troops pose almost no threat on the easiest of the game’s four settings, but boss battles can require multiple restarts.


Players use a variety of weapons -- rifles, grenades, emplaced guns -- to fight scads of lethal enemies, mostly human-like robots. Several scenes depict human soldiers getting torn apart by bullets and explosions, with blood pumping from wounds and, in one case, a head all but exploding.


A movie sequence provides a low angle of a woman wearing a very short skirt, allowing players to see partially up its sides.


Strong profanity is infrequent but present. Examples: “f--k,” “motherf--ker,” and “s--t.”

Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

The main protagonist is nearly a chain smoker. He lights up cigarettes even in the heat of battle, for no other apparent reason than to look “cool.”

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that Vanquish is an intense, futuristic military shooter that depicts blood and gore, features instances of strong language, and stars a chain-smoking protagonist. The focus of the game is to glorify and make entertaining frenetic, over-the-top combat. It is clearly not intended for children.

What's it about?

A rogue sect of the Russian military has taken over the country and launched war on the United States in VANQUISH, a Japanese-style third-person shooter with some decidedly Western elements. The game begins with the villain, Victor Zaitsev, obliterating San Francisco with a space-based microwave blast, then threatening to do the same to New York should the government decide not to surrender. The president, a strong, Hillary Clinton-esque personality, vows never to submit and immediately launches an attack on the orbiting platform Zaitsev’s forces occupy. Players jump into the shoes of Sam Gideon, a DARPA researcher who wears advanced armor that makes him an almost unstoppable military machine. Armed with a wide range of upgradeable weapons, players begin a break-neck-paced, action-packed, and thoroughly adult-oriented adventure to save America.

Is it any good?


Japanese shooters often don’t resonate well with Westerners, but Vanquish is different. It suffers the sort one-dimensional personalities and wooden dialogue found in its brethren, but still manages to be riveting thanks to some spectacular movie sequences, clever off-world settings, and extraordinarily quick pacing.

More importantly, the combat is highly gratifying. Players take on enemies ranging from small crawling robots to multi-storey behemoths using a healthy selection of satisfying weapons. The controls are tight, and the epic battles are rarely short of heart-pounding. Unfortunately, the frenetic action sometimes translates into bosses and missions that are more difficult than they should be. That quibble aside, this could be the most successful example yet of a game that marries Eastern and Western shooter philosophies. Good fun for grown-ups.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about smoking in games. What narrative purpose does making a leading character a heavy smoker serve? Does it glamorize the habit? Why would the game have him lighting up in the heat of battle? Does it make sense?

  • Families can also discuss why they play games. Is it to experience a thrill from doing things you can’t do in the real world? To settle down and relax? To have fun with friends? To enjoy some alone time? Which of these pursuits does this game satisfy?

Game details

Platforms:Xbox 360, PlayStation 3
Available online?Not available online
Developer:Sega of America
Release date:October 19, 2010
Genre:Third-person shooter
ESRB rating:M for Blood and Gore, Intense Violence, Strong Language

This review of Vanquish was written by

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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What parents and kids say

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Kid, 12 years old December 19, 2010
there is no blood from enemy at all the just explode because they are robots so why is it an m plus no langauge too
Teen, 13 years old Written byBehemoth22 April 13, 2011

Perfect for teens

The game is super fun. There is some bad language here and there. No enemy blood because they are all robots. Friendly blood and gore. Heads exploding. Intense shooting and violence.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much swearing
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Teen, 13 years old Written bycerealkiller189 February 27, 2012

Awesome,intense and violent robot shooter.

This game is extremely fun and I always set my mind on this game whenever I go near my Xbox or Ps3(I have both console versions of the game),This is the most awesome game ever and the enemies are robots which look a lot like humans but the blood is synthetic so it looks fake and unrealistic.Language is unmerciful and very strong,but if you a mature enough,get off your chair and get this game now.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much swearing


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