Back in the days of the N64, I remember fondly all those times my friends and I would all sit down together on the couch to play some Starfox 64 multiplayer.
Well, it’s more like we all squished next to each other in front of the TV since the split screen was so tiny, but it was some of the most fun I had with the good ol’ N64, which is saying a lot because games like GoldenEye, Mario Kart and Smash Bros also existed.
After that point, I never found a space combat title that I found all that interesting, and when I first saw some game play footage of Strike Vector, I thought perhaps this would be the one to rekindle my love for the genre.
While it fell well short of my hopes, it’s still a title deserving of attention from those that are die-hard fans of the genre.
The most noticeable thing after loading up Strike Vector for the first time is that the little nine-page tutorial is entirely inadequate for actually teaching new players how the game functions.
It’s just a series of image stills, and even after reading the tips very carefully, I was none the wiser when I actually went into the first match to become an unstoppable suicide/free kill machine.
While I don’t mind learning from hands on experience, in a title that focuses completely on the competitive element, it’s rather frustrating dying over and over again without knowing what I’m doing wrong.
Seeing a variety of weapons and perks at my disposal while not knowing how they’re actually utilized outside of the “shoot at the thing you want dead and hope for the best” convention can get old fast.
For example, I had a homing missile that I could fire, but it seemed very inconsistent in its range and how it would hit my opponents. Did I have to have my opponent locked on the whole time while it’s in flight? If I fired and lost my target then reacquired it a second later, would it still track them down?
These and many other questions as to the functionality of the various weapons plagued me without answer, as actually testing them out during combat with any semblance of control was a difficult proposition.
Given each player is allowed two main weapons along with a special tool to work with at any given time, most of my playtime was used in trying weapon combinations and even after a dozen matches, I never quite settled on one set.
Still, even when I was doing poorly and dying constantly, I could appreciate the graphical fidelity of Strike Vector and its ability to exude a real sense of speed.
It was also impressive how tightly the vehicles controlled as I was able to maneuver my ship just the way I wanted most of the time.
Being able to quickly rocket boost out of range of a bunch of swarm missiles and hiding around the corner, then going into hover mode to start unloading on the chaser when he eventually caught up to me was a common occurrence, and satisfying to do each and every time.
Quick turns, dashes and “barrel rolls” were all accessible with ease, and while they varied in effectiveness, they were still fun to pull off.
Unfortunately while there certainly is a solid foundation here for a fun “Space FPS” (which they like to call it, but it played in either third or first), some rather major flaws deter from the overall experience.
First of all, no matter how fun a game is, if the player can’t find a match to play, it’s all meaningless and I constantly found myself in this predicament.
It’s not that there weren’t any servers, as there were many, but when I tried to connect to one that wasn’t full, it would often throw me in a server without any players for no reason.
This would happen as many as six or eight times before I actually got into the server I intended, and with every forced restart to the main menu, I felt my desire to play slip further and further away.
Then there is the fact that there’s only three main play modes, domination, bounty and deathmatch, which seems very limited.
To top all of that off, the current asking price of $24.99, which seems high considering how buggy and limited the offered content is at the moment.
While they promise that more will be released in the future, it’s unclear just what that content will be, and frankly, I can’t forgive a lack of content just with the promise of more in the future.
While Strike Vector has a very solid foundation to work with, it seems as though it might have been better served in development a little longer to flush out the bugs with the servers, and perhaps add more content in the form of different game modes.
As it stands, it’s a difficult title to recommend at the current asking price, except to those that are die-hard fans of the genre.
Fun Tidbit – What we know as a “barrel roll” is not in fact a barrel roll but an Aileron Roll. Thanks, Starfox.
Review copy of game provided by publisher.