Strike Vector EX came out of nowhere like a heat-seeking missile to PSN store this week. From tiny indie studio Ragequit Corporation comes a science fiction arcade air-combat shooter that feels like a throwback to the classics Afterburner, Ace Combat and Descent in the best possible way.
Not only do you blast around the huge maps at full throttle, weaving in and out of some impressive structures like a leaf on the wind, but you can also stop on a dime and line up shots just like in a 1st/3rd person FPS mixed with VTOL characteristics of hovering and strafing.
Combat and controls in Strike Vector EX could easily have destroyed this game quicker than your fighters’ (Vector) self-destruct mode. I am extremely happy to tell you that both are brilliant. Before long you’ll be blasting along with the Left-Trigger, stopping on the spot to engage in enemy fighters then blasting away again constantly threading the needle of floating industrial complexes. This game is pure fun and an adrenaline rush every time you jump in to your Vector.
Built on Unreal Engine 4 everything looks great and more importantly runs like a greased weasel up a drain pipe. That is to say it never slows down one bit, whether it’s in full combat against waves of enemies or you’re flying hell for leather out of a facility about to explode, a la Millenium Falcon escaping the Death Star in Return of the Jedi. Modes on offer are a fun single player campaign spread over 15 short missions, Skirmish, a wave based mode against AI enemies and finally competitive multiplayer.
The campaign is good fun but is extremely cheesy and really it actually kind of works with the ‘arcade game’ style. Missions are all very short and you can smash through them all in about 3-4 hours. Even half that time judging by the time scores on the global leaderboards. You don’t play these just once though, it’s all about jumping back in to get better and better times for bragging rights against your mates! There are side missions dotted throughout that include Survival, Destroy and Duel objectives.
Next up is Skirmish, an offline mode which pits you against waves of AI bots. Sadly this mode is not available online, which could have been a truly brilliant co-op mode to include. You can’t even do local couch co-op which feels like a huge missed opportunity. Still, the strength of the combat and the controls ensure that it’s always fun and having it included is certainly appreciated.
The real attraction to Strike Vector EX are the competitive multiplayer modes. Think of the campaign and skirmish modes a bit like training for the main event of Vector vs Vector aerial combat at a blistering pace. Now I have to be honest here, I was more than a little bit worried that going up against other live players would be a mix of intensely frustrating matches based off how fast and intense this game plays in it’s other modes.
After a few games of Squad Battle (Team Deathmatch) I had nothing to worry about. Sure they are intense and fast but it all handles so well that each match is a lot of fun without ever feeling overwhelmed.
Other competitive modes available are Demolition, Capture the Flag, Battle and Bounty Hunter. All fun twists on your MP staples. Mix in the ability to customise your Vector with colours and decals unlocked with XP earned by playing online and you have a fairly meaty multiplayer offering.
Strike Vector EX is brilliant fun. Pure unadulterated arcade shooter at it’s heart and pure pick up and play enjoyment. The best part of the package is the price, only £11.99 on the PlayStation store, but PS Plus members get an additional discount of 30% bringing that down to a very tasty £8.39. Superb value for money!