IntroductionRageQuit, the small team of developers who brought Strike Vector to the PC community more than 2 years ago, have made it their mission to bring an even greater project of its nature to the consoles. Strike Vector has been rebuilt from the ground up using Unreal Engine 4, optimized for PS4 and XB1 controllers, running at 60 fps at 1080p resolution, and has a large number of game mode additions implemented into the game.
If you're unaware of the premise within the game, here it is: Strike Vector Ex is a competitive Multiplayer (with single-player campaign and skirmish modes) aerial-combat game where you take control of your extremely agile fighter and bring havoc to your enemies over gorgeous sky (and space) battlefields. You can buy the game on PlayStation Network on August 30th for $14.99, and Xbox Marketplace at a later date.
GameplayAs mentioned, the game runs at 60 fps at 1080p resolution but has an option to lock frame rate. The cutscenes throughout the solo campaign are the only times I have noticed any kind of lower frame rates, but the true gameplay is smooth as can be. The immersion when playing in first person view is thrilling, and the third person is just as easy on the eyes. You can switch between these two at any time with just the press of a button.
You'll find a radar on the UI in the top left corner which will help map enemy locations, but orange triangles will assist you in finding their specific locations around you by showing you which direction to turn towards. When they are in the targeting circle, they will be highlighted by an orange diamond (this can all be seen in the image above). Vector's health is displayed in the lower left corner, while your weapon and specials are displayed in the bottom right.
The hit markers visible to you when hitting an enemy vector show up as bright yellow and orange numbers (ex. +89, +121) acting also almost like DPS (damage per second) but per successful hit. The shooting feels very controlled, and the hit detection feels just as good. The shotgun hits with strength in close range, and the Gatling gun strikes targets with great accuracy and little to no bullet leading needed. When you have been withered down to impending death, you are given a few last seconds to fly as close to enemies as you can and use the option to self-destruct in the attempt to take one or two with you.
The environments are littered with pick-ups, but the variety of them is minimal. You can take advantage of repair icons glowing in green colors that incrementally replace health with a fly through. They'll be in lines of 3 or 4, so luckily it never feels like a scavenger hunt, and can be picked up in bunches at a time. Other times you'll find time reductions for specials. The game has a few hidden surprises throughout the maps, but these basics will always remain the same and constant regardless of game mode and the environment.
GAME MODESSolo Campaign offers a story, and while not all deeply interesting, it is there. There are 15 missions in total that taking place in each of the 15 maps. The story is told through watercolor art with voice acting over, as well as before and after, gameplay cutscenes where the characters interact with one another. The mission levels deal with escorting a cargo ship, destroying a major target, eliminating enemy vectors, etc. Often times after completing the main objective, you'll be forced into a 1v1 duel with a boss/leader. Again, it's not a complex story, or even tasked within missions, but it provides a balance to the game as a whole and gives those who purchase the game another option of gameplay.
Each mission will have a "Time Ranking" where you compete against all of the Strike Vector Ex community (and friends in a separate ranking chart) for the fastest completion times. A nice bonus to completing missions is the option to compete in the "Horde Stadium" where you race to checkpoints to set time trial records. The loadouts still play a major role in this as boost specialties can increase your finish time by several seconds.
Online Multiplayer centers around 6v6 combat and consists of 6 different types of warfare: Squad Battle (Team Deathmatch), Demolition (destroy the opposing team's infrastructure before they destroy yours), Capture The Flag, Battle (free-for-all), Bounty Hunter (free-for-all with an added objective to acquiring dropped "kebs" in order to score points), and a team based King of the Hill where you attempt to control the center of the map.
One of the issues that occurred with the original Strike Vector on PC was the lack of consistent community presence over time. The developers have provided a great solution for creating a long lasting replay value via AI vectors. If you were to be the only person on the game servers in, for example, 5 years, you'll still be able to play in the online game modes with both teammates and enemy vectors being filled and controlled by the computer.
Skirmish mode is a non-experience non-kebs (in-game currency) awarding game mode where, after unlocking maps via completion of campaign missions, you get to practice your combat skills.
Vector Loadouts and CustomizationThe general rule of the game is to destroy enemy vectors, and luckily for you, you are given absolutely everything you need to do so. There are a couple different loadouts to choose from that you can help you maximize your presence in combat (way more than a couple loadouts, though). To begin with, you must select one of 7 different possible weapons. Weapons include Carabine (similar to single-fire assault rifles), Homing Missiles, Gatling, Plasma Gun (sniper), Rocket Launcher, Shotgun, or Swarm Missiles. But the customization goes even further in depth regarding the weapon classes: you can choose up to several perks for your main weapon, depending on initial choice.
After weaponry, you choose a Special Action and Specialization. Special Actions include Ghost (to cloak your vector), Nano-Machines (deploys large healing orb that heals both allies and enemies), Instant Shield (temporary invincibility), Rocket Booster, Proximity Mines, Stalker Mines (seeks out enemy vectors), Tesla Coil (electrical field to damage allies and enemies), and EMP (disables opponents special abilities). Specialization include Hyper Scope (Increased zooming), Long Range Radar (increased enemy detection range), RCS Enhancer (increased speed during hovering), Nitro Booster (increased speed when in flight mode), Infrared Sensor (able to detect enemy vectors through environments), Heavy Armor (increased defense capabilities), Stealth Enhancer (reduces your vectors detectability by enemies).
Customization of your vector extends further than just selecting from a huge array of potential loadouts. Through the earning of experience, you can change the style of a few different sections/parts to fit any design you'd like. Paint them in a single color, mix and match the paintings of the previously mentioned sections, or be a flying rainbow decked out in a variety of colors. There are over 10,000 potential combinations when factoring all of the weapons, specials, armors, and colors.
ControlsThe controls are arguably the most beautiful part of the game. They are complex enough to bring a mature to the gameplay but simple enough that anyone can feel like a trained pilot. There are two forms of basic movements, hover, and flight boosting, and they are smoothly integrated to be changed at any tenth of a second. If you're boosting your way towards a surface, and death seems inevitable, cutting boost and automatically shifting into hover status will bring you to a complete stop where you can the change direction and proceed with your plan of action or act as a stationary attacker. Vice versa to this idea, if you are hovering in the air and an encounter with the enemy begins to look bleak at best, with a push of the boost, you can begin your evasion with jet-like flying through the many gaps throughout the environment or simply just by putting distance between you and your combatant.
The L1 and R1 buttons allow for elevation adjustments, an essential tool when hovering through the inside one of the large structures in which the battle is taking place at. There is also strafing-boost which will act to evade incoming missiles or more simply to disrupt an enemy targeting you with other main weapons. You can spin 180 degrees at any time while in flight mode by aiming slightly to one side or the other and pressing the respective action button on the controller, best for when you are being ambushed from behind. When in a face-to-face encounter, adding all of these moves will mean you will experience extremely intense combat every match.
Sound and GraphicsWhile voice acting is a tad cheesy in my opinion during the solo campaign, it's far from horrific to the ears. Generic script roles of faction leaders, main protagonists, and casual trash talking over the radio doesn't tire you out completely as the missions take about 5-10 minutes to complete, jumping you right into the next batch of action quickly. The music feels like an old school Ace Combat or even arcade machine, which some will adore and others may find a little stale hearing every mission. The prize winner when it comes to sound is found within the combat. If you put on a pair of gaming headsets, the boosting, shooting, and damage taken to your own ship by missiles sounds as realistic as anyone could probably make it. All combat sound effects are amplified regarding immersion when you play in first person view.
The game is played on the Unreal Engine 4, allowing an incredible amount of detail to the environment and vectors. While cutscenes will appear to fall a little short of graphical expectations, and are mixed with a healthy amount of water color art with script reading on top, the graphics within gameplay are astounding. I experienced very little frame drops and almost no environmental glitches/bugs, meaning the gaps and structure edges being aimed for in hair-close traversing was extremely recognizable. The hit detection of weapons and specials was met with crisp explosions.
ConclusionStrike Vector Ex offers a great deal of options regarding game modes, ship customization, and online competitiveness. The developers have put a great deal of attention into their game in order to revamp its former, relatively short-lived glory of Strike Vector on PC some years ago. They've learned from prior experiences and are delivering an extremely refined, enjoyable, and gorgeously designed game.
The diverse options regarding personal vector customization are much appreciated. Dually appreciated, the extensive gameplay mechanics enable everyone to play in their own fashion meaning there will always be intense and chaotic combat no matter which sky you are deployed to. AI enemy and ally combatants, in the event the community were to die down one day or get engrossed into future game releases, allow for long time replay value. And who doesn't love getting the most bang for their buck?
|+ Amazing flying and combat controls||- Lacks a deeper story|
|+ 60 fps at 1080p||- No co-op campaign|
|+ Solo Campaign in addition to multiplayer||- Semi-bland voice acting|
|+ Deep ship customization|
|+ AI replacements online = never ending replay|