Strike Vector Review
As soon as I boot up Strike Vector I instantly feel like I've been taken back in time a good ten years: it's the screeching electric guitars and the clang of moving machinery every time I pick an option on the rust-steel themed menu that takes me down memory lane. Strike Vector is an online shooter in which you pilot a high-speed aircraft, but while it might look like Starfox on crack, its kinetic arena-based blasting makes it feel more akin to the loopy chaos of Unreal Tournament or Quake Arena.
In Strike Vector you control a fast-moving ship that can be kitted out with multiple armaments and can switch between two modes: Jet Mode allows you to fly at speed like a standard aircraft while Stationary mode will pull you up short at the touch of a button, allowing you to dart from side-to-side and fire with greater accuracy. The great pleasure of the game comes when you alternate between flight modes, enabling you to flip direction and alter course in a heartbeat: you can fly straight for a wall and switch mode to pull a 90 degree turn, flying up it rather than into it and then watch as the guy following close behind you fails to react fast enough, crashing into the wall in a raging ball of flame JUST LIKE IN THE MOVIES!!
Strike Vector is at its best in tight confines, forcing you to switch constantly between the two flight modes so that you can zip and weave in, out and around pylons, moving machinery and other chunks of metal (or of course, other careening players). Unfortunately most gamers at the moment seem to prefer to take to the open skies (which make up the majority of most levels), attempting lacklustre dogfights, so I'll often find myself hanging round the areas where it's fun, but with no one to play with. In the open, Strike Vector just doesn't seem to work as well; maybe it's my play style but with the large distances and speed, random pot shots seem to be almost as effective as any attempt at aiming. Occasionally you'll find yourself in a proper dance to the death with a player willing to switch between flight modes but most appear content to go round and round in big looping circles. And there's very little point in actually engaging in a game of cat and mouse because while you're hunting down your chosen quarry some jerk from a distance has probably let off a couple of dozen homing missiles, ready to swoop in and steal your kill. It's for this reason that Deathmatch mode is particularly hateful and frustrating. Other modes let Strike Vector shine in a brighter light however; Domination and (if played right) Bounty Hunter force players together, creating more exciting, frenetic fight experiences.
The weapons are often frustrating; they take time to master and can feel ineffectual if not used properly. The Gatling gun will probably be where you start, as it never runs out of ammo but it takes time to spin up and you'll most likely feel that you're chipping away at the enemy's health rather than shooting it down in a blaze of glory. Other weapons like the shotgun and rockets are hard to hit with, while the light machine gun runs through its clip far too quickly thanks to the pray and spray mentality taken by most players. My weapon of choice is a Gatling-shotgun combo: I chip away at them with the Gatling while switching between flight modes to get up close and line up a devastating shotgun blast. When done properly the weapons can feel immensely satisfying but most players appear to opt for the homing missiles - removing any real sense of skill and rendering your aggressive maneuvering kind of pointless.
The core mechanics of Strike Vector are brilliant, the flying feels high octane and thrilling but the game wrapped around them is frustrating and shallow; neither the game modes nor the maps really feel like they force you to make the most of what your little ship can do. It's early days yet: the developers are promising regular content including new maps and games modes, and hopefully as players become more adept they will move away from the open areas and move towards the terrifying chaos of the levels' underbellies.
Game is enjoyable, outweighing the issues there may be.
The core mechanics of Strike Vector are brilliant, the flying feels high octane and thrilling but the game wrapped around them is frustrating and shallow; neither the game modes nor the maps really feel like they force you to make the most of what your little ship can do.