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5 Reasons Vanquish Hero Sam Gideon Is Still The Greatest

Illustration for article titled 5 Reasons iVanquish/i Hero Sam Gideon Is Still The Greatest

Today Sega releases the Bayonetta & Vanquish 10th Anniversary Bundle bringing two of Platinum Games’ best to the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 with support for 4K at 60 frames per second. Both games look and play beautifully, but sequel-having Smash Bros. fighter Bayonetta has gotten enough attention. It’s smoking-and-sliding Vanquish star Sam Gideon’s time to shine.


Released in 2010, Vanquish is a fast-paced, super-stylish third-person shooter developed by Platinum Games and published by Sega. Set in the near future, during which everyone is wearing special armor and regularly using robots in combat, Vanquish tells the story of a conflict between the United States and the Order of the Russian Star, a rogue organization that’s overthrown the normally peaceful Russian Federation and now holds the U.S. hostage with a city-killing satellite. Along with a number of largely disposable space marines, the president sends in DARPA soldier Sam Gideon to infiltrate the satellite installation and look good doing it.


Why is Sam Gideon the best at what he does? I have compiled a list.

That White Armor

Most armor used in combat situations is decorated to blend in somewhat with its surroundings. Greens, browns, and camouflage are used in wilderness settings, grays for urban environments, blacks for nighttime missions. White armor is for when blending in and remaining inconspicuous isn’t a concern. Only certified badasses wear white armor.

Many of my favorite characters in comics and gaming wear white. Moon Knight from Marvel Comics, for example, wears white because he wants criminals to see him coming, and possibly to keep the Batman folks from suing. An even better example comes from Capcom’s Gamecube classic, P.N.03. It’s a futuristic shooter starring Vanessa Z. Schneider as a dancing mercenary wearing bright white suits of Aegis armor.


If that outfit looks familiar, that’s because Capcom’s P.N.03 was directed by Shinji Mikami, the same man who directed Vanquish for Platinum Games. Several ideas from P.N.03 made it into Vanquish, including the game’s focus on fast movement and using cover, as well as a hero who exudes sass. And of course, that stunning white armor.

Illustration for article titled 5 Reasons iVanquish/i Hero Sam Gideon Is Still The Greatest

Known as the Augmented Reaction Suit, Gideon’s armor grants him enhanced strength and speed and the ability to slide and briefly slow down time. It also allows him to carry and swap between three weapon types at will. The suit has the initials ARS prominently displayed on the chest plate. A lesser person would be embarrassed, nearly having “arse” spelled out on their uniform. Not Sam Gideon.

The Sliding

Remember Wet, the 2009 action game starring Eliza Dushku as Rubi Malone, the tough-as-nails mercenary with the power to slide over any surface? No? Great. Forget I said anything.


2010’s Vanquish is the first cool game worth remembering to feature sliding as a primary movement mechanic. Using boost rocks on his shiny white suit, Sam Gideon rockets across the ground, somehow not scratching the living hell out of his armored shins. If it weren’t for the fact that using boost overheats his ARS, he could just slide all the time for no reason.


While the regular space marines are hoofing it from checkpoint to checkpoint, Sam is gracefully sliding by. When those marines are riddled by bullets from a massive robot, Sam slides from cover point to cover point, collecting ammo and waiting for his shot. And when he activates the suit’s Augmented Reaction feature while sliding, effectively slowing down time, Vanquish sings.

He’s Smoking

There is nothing cool about smoking. It stinks. It kills. It was a contributing factor to me nearly dying in 2018. The only good excuse for smoking is to use the lit cigarettes to distract enemy robots, as Sam Gideon does in Vanquish.


When I first played Vanquish back in 2010, I was a heavy smoker. Every time I ducked Sam into cover and hit the “smoke a cigarette” button I got annoyed at how quickly he lit up, puffed, and tossed. Cigarettes are not cheap, and he was wasting them. Now that I have not had a cigarette in two years, I appreciate Gideon’s smoking a lot more. He just has one now and then, as a treat.


It’s a really bad habit, but it did help me identify with Sam. I might never fight robots in an experimental suit of power armor, but I have smoked and I have cracked wise. We’re like brothers.

Rocket Punch

Rocket punch?


Rocket punch.

Sam Gideon is Gideon Emery

This guy here...

Illustration for article titled 5 Reasons iVanquish/i Hero Sam Gideon Is Still The Greatest
Advertisement this guy here.


British actor Gideon Emery, known for his deep, warm, and sometimes gruff voice. You may know him as Gideon from Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare, Devrim Kay from Destiny 2, Fergus Reid from Wolfenstein, or Zoo Lou in Skylanders. His ridiculously long list of credits also includes voicing Moon Knight in the Avengers Assemble cartoon, bringing us right back to the whole white armor thing.

In this brief clip from the PlayStation 4 version of Vanquish, Sam Gideon faces off against evil Russian Star agent Victor Zaitsev, voiced by Marc Worden.

“But Mike, that clip is less than 20 seconds long and the only line Gideon Emery has is ‘Fuck me’. Yes. That is true.


If You Play Only One Platinum Games 10th Anniversary Re-Release

Play Vanquish. You’ve seen Bayonetta. She shoots, she flips, she wears her hair and wields it as a weapon. Whatever.


Or just get them both. They’re both awesome and pretty.

More Vanquish For You


Kotaku elder, lover of video games, keyboards, toys, snacks, and other unsavory things.

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Mandatory voicing of my love of this generally unplayed gem. On top of being a super fun game, i think it’s noteworthy for 1. proving that action game design works wonderfully in a shooter (see also that action game design is widely overlooked by the gaming population at large) and 2. that gameplay depth can carry an entire experience.

That having been said... I’m sorry, but Vanquish is very much a product of it’s time. It’s clearly a critique of genre... well, a sub-genre that... well has now all but completely gone away. It’s interesting to me that not only did the folks at Platinum had the foresight to see that the cover shooter lacked a certain “something” to guarantee it a permanent spot in the gaming-cultural zeitgeist, but that they actually showed everyone how to course-correct.

But now, the cover shooter is all but dead, with only Gears making last-ditch efforts to try to resuscitate it. And for that reason... I no longer recommend Vanquish to anyone. It’s still an amazing game, and I will play and replay it for years to come. But it’s very much a “you had to be there” type game.