Review: Strike Vector EX (PS4)

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Formats:

  • PlayStation 4
  • Xbox One
  • PC *

Format/Hardware Used:

  • PSN Download
  • PS4
  • HDTV

* Original game Strike Vector

Title: Strike Vector EX
Format: PSN (2.5 GB)
Release Date: August 30, 2016
Publisher: Ragequit Corporation
Developer: Ragequit Corporation
Original MSRP: $14.99
ESRB Rating: M
A copy of this game was provided by the publisher for review purposes.
PS Nation Review Policy

Audio Review:
The audio review for this game is available on Episode 488 of the podcast.
Ep488

For years, when PC gaming was definitely above and beyond consoles in terms of visual and audio capabilities, I played a lot of the Quake and Descent series. With Descent in particular, many of my friends couldn’t even play it because it was very easy to lose your bearings, but I never had a problem with that.

Cut to present times, and Strike Vector EX is finally making its way to consoles, but it’s a game that I’ve kept my eye on since it was made available via Early Access on Steam.

Gameplay:
The game is all about ship-to-ship combat, but if you need something for comparison think Quake in terms of the weaponry available, Descent and Warhawk for controls and how you get around the maps, and even a bit of Call of Duty when you think about the speed of the gameplay and some of the level design. Unlike Warhawk though, you’ll never get out of your ship, but you can hover and even vary your flight speed depending on how you want to approach specific situations.

Gameplay takes place in a full 3D space, including full vertical capabilities. Unlike others that offer this mechanic, your ship will right itself after a few seconds instead of always holding its orientation, but that only happens while actually in forward flight. If you’re hovering, your intended orientation remains persistent.

Strike Vector EX_20160810202901Strike Vector EX_20160816190630

Before every match and after you die, you’ll have the opportunity to adjust your loadout which consists of three main item categories – Main Weapon, Secondary Weapon, and Special. Main weapons are your pretty standard fare, and will feel familiar to someone that’s played other arena-style FPS in the past.

The secondary weapons available are pretty imaginative though, with some that lean to the defensive even. There are items like a Nanobot Field that repairs not only your ship, but other teammates that are close by as well. You’ll also find cloaking devices that allow you to stay invisible on radar, IR scanners, and even a cool EMP blast that temporarily discombobulates enemies that are in-range.

… environments have items and objects that are constantly in motion …
Specials can either help with offensive or defensive strategies with hardened armor or longer range scopes for sniping. The options are a good mix, and hold a good “Rock-Paper-Scissors” balance for the most part. Nothing really feels overpowered because there’s always a deficiency of some type. Dumb rockets are not very good from long distances, homing missiles require you to lock-on and can be dodged, and the shotgun is only effective in close quarters.

The action is fast and visceral, but for those that like to be a bit more sneaky, the maps definitely allow that sort of strategy. There are fifteen maps included in the game at launch, and all are quite varied and very well designed. Some take place in close, completely enclosed quarters, while others are out in the open.

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A design aspect that really shines is all of the nooks and crannies that can be used as hiding places for snipers or when you need to regroup before you dart toward some health pickups. Even better is the fact that many of the environments have items and objects that are constantly in motion, which just adds to the tension. The best example of this is when you’re flying around a damaged space station, requiring you to not only fight your enemies, but also dodge that section that’s broken away and is hurtling straight for you.

For the console versions, they’ve also included a Campaign which wasn’t in the PC iteration. I understand its inclusion, adding that perception of additional value, but for me it was simply a set of battles against AI opponents. My expectations are to play online with others. The story is passable though, with some interesting twists and turns, but I didn’t find myself overly compelled to complete it. I’m not saying that anything is inherently wrong with the campaign, it’s just not for me.

… forcing you to change your strategies …
Visuals:
Since it’s been out on the PC for a while, Strike Vector EX has matured quite a bit leading up to the PS4 release, and that’s very obvious when you see it. Textures are insanely detailed through-and-through, with a solid framerate to boot. The abundant color palette and excellent variety of map layouts make this a visual stunner no matter what map you’re on.

What makes it even stronger than expected is the amount of activity throughout the levels. Debris is floating everywhere while random platforms block your path, and on one map, a large satellite is torn apart, scattering pieces all over the place while the space platform continues to turn in its orbit.

A lot of thought has been put into how this game looks, and it shows. The mix of wide-open environments and the almost claustrophobic indoor levels keep the action fresh by forcing you to change your strategies. There’s nothing cookie-cutter here.

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Audio:
Honestly, nothing here will blow you away, but that’s not to say that the audio is bad. Effects do a great job keeping you immersed in the action, and the Rock-inspired soundtrack adds to the mood. Where things can fall a bit short though is in the voice acting on the newly added Campaign. It’s serviceable at best, and for an indie title it’s definitely not bad.

I do like that they’ve added voice chat within the game instead of relying on players using the PS4 Party system, and the voice quality has been pretty good in the random online matches that I’ve participated in.

… the wide variety of weapon combinations and ship customizations available …
Online/Multiplayer:
Online is definitely the strength of the game and it’s pretty fantastic. For an old gamer like me, who lived in online multiplayer games like Doom, Quake, and Descent, this one scratches all of those itches. Matches can go as large as six on six, with five different modes available:

  • Battle: Destroy the highest amount of Vectors and reach the required number of kills to win the match
  • Squad Battle: With your team, destroy the highest amount of enemy Vectors
  • Demolition: Destroy the enemy infrastructures before the enemy destroys yours
  • Capture the Flag: Capture the enemy flag and bring it back to your flag base
  • Bounty Hunter: Destroy the other Vectors to earn as many Kebs as possible and reach the required amount to win the match
  • King of the Hill: Capture and secure the central zone on the map

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Obviously, these different modes are pretty recognizable, but where the originality comes from is how this game actually plays in a full 3D space. Also, with the wide variety of weapon combinations and ship customizations available, balance has yet to be an issue, which at times can make or break an online experience.

Servers have remained quite stable, and matchmaking seems to be quite good. I’ve rarely had an issue getting into a match and those instances all happened during launch week. This has actually been one of my favorite online experiences as of late and I haven’t tired of it at all.

… some truly fun and frantic online battles …
Conclusion:
Strike Vector EX has been on my radar since it was revealed for PC and I’ve actually played it via early access on Steam. The move to consoles was one that I hoped for, and the work put into that journey is very apparent.

The console-specific controls and the maturity throughout brings a very unique and fun game to the PS4, and there’s a lot to love if you’re looking for some truly fun and frantic online battles. The campaign that’s been added for the console release does the intended job, but you’ll definitely want to stick around for the online offering, because it shouldn’t be missed.

Score:
8.0

* All screenshots used in this review were taken directly from the game using the Share functionality on the PlayStation 4.

Written by Glenn Percival

Glenn Percival

Just a guy that loves games, movies, Golf, Football, and Baseball.

Podcast Co-Host, Editor-in-Chief, Video Producer, and whipping-boy

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