Strike Vector, from the 9-man micro team Ragequit, is the latest multiplayer shooter to throw its hat into the arena. Well, into the sky, actually – as the game see you strapped into a jet/mech hybrid in what they describes as a “brutal aerial FPS”. It carries itself at a lightning pace by trimming away all the frills, leaving a tight, easy-to-learn-hard-to-master, hardcore shooter. However, it’s possible they took a little too much off.
If you’ve ever played an arena shooter like Quake or Unreal Tournament, you’ll feel right at home. Pick a server, choose your loadout, and dive in. It’s fast, simple, and straight to the point. Respawns are quick and limitless, and changing out weapons and special abilities only takes a few clicks. Game modes are limited but easy to pick up on, and the maps are small, forcing confrontations at every turn. But in its rush, Strike Vector seems to have forgotten to include systems that increase longevity. There are no weapon unlocks or upgrades and the only rewards for moving up the ranks are cosmetic items and bragging rights. Of course there are plenty of successful multiplayer games out there that adopt a similar approach but they aren’t all charging right out of the gate. Still, Ragequit have promised regular content updates, so it may not be an issue, assuming the new content is decent, too.
Though the armaments seem limited, they are quite varied, and allow for very different play styles. The bullet based weapons include the standard, but slightly overpowered gatling gun; the slower but more powerful LMG; the single-shot Carbine, and the Shotgun. Rockets come in the homing and swarm variety, and rounding out the armoury is the Plasma-gun which is, for all intents and purposes, a sniper rifle. This, along with the Shotgun, might seem out of place in an aerial shooter but they both work surprisingly well. The small map sizes allow the Shotgun to just about be a viable option and while the Plasma-gun is slow and unforgiving, it is both devastatingly accurate and powerful. The weapon balance needs to be addressed, however, as the Gatling gun requires no reload and deals serious damage because of this and its fire rate, and the rockets are also a little overpowered.
Your jet/mech can handle two weapons in any combination and each weapon can be outfitted with a further two perks. These include increased damage, accuracy, rate of fire, or larger magazine, faster reloads, and bigger splash radius for rockets. All these add a minor tactical slant to your choices and make your load-out options seem much greater. There are also twp specialisations: a passive and active perk. These always-on perks include things like increased armour, shielding, or the ability to track targets around objects – but none are particularly essential. The active perks are much more interesting and feature mines, emp blasts, boosts, and cloaking devices.
Ragequit have done a fine job of making it easy to pick up and play Strike Vector, especially with the control scheme. The mouse does most of the work, handling weapons and movement in the 3 dimensions, and a quick roll useful for dodging is a simple double tap of A or D. Space switches seamlessly between jet and the stationary harrier mode, in which the mouse wheel handles your height. The two modes have their uses and the toggling between them is so easy and quick that you can instantly adapt to any situation.
The game is impressive to look at, especially considering the small development team. The maps are well designed and varied, the ship models are detailed, and the game keeps a consistent frame-rate throughout. The graphics lack a slight bit of polish but nothing too noticeable. The UI could use some work, but it’s simple and easy enough to navigate that it doesn’t get in the way. The music is awful, but thankfully confined to the menu.
VERDICT: Strike Vector is a solid shooter that is limited in some respects. The lack of game modes is an issue, but could quickly be overcome with regular updates. The weapon choices may also seem small, but with a decent amount of customising, there is enough there to last. The most pressing issue is the lack of community, with most servers empty at the time of this review. But if the dev can keep the content coming and work out the kinks, this game could really take-off.
DECENT. A 6/10 indicates that, while this game could be much better, it still has a fair amount to offer the player. It might be an interesting title sabotaged by its own ambition, or a game denied greater praise by some questionable design choices. Don’t avoid it outright, but approach it with caution.
Review code provided by the publisher.