Strike Vector EX, developed by Ragequit Corporation, is the console port of a space air-combat game that launched on Steam back in 2014. On Steam, the game received mixed reviews, but overall many found it enjoyable for at least a bit. Now the game has been rebuilt from the ground up with a higher frame rate, new challenges, and the ability to play the game with AI opponents. Inspired by games like Quake and Crimson Skies, the three man development team definitely put a lot of time and effort into nailing the ebb and flow of air-combat.
Now, there’s a lot to love about Strike Vector EX and quite a bit to hate too, so let’s hop into our Vector and blast right into it.
For starters, most players should start in the “single player campaign” to get a feel for how the game works. I use this term loosely, due to the fact that the campaign is merely a string of challenges and side challenges with poorly written dialogue in between. Long story short, there is no story worth mentioning, no gripping plot, and no excitement in the game’s delivery of its world. However, these challenges do achieve in teaching the player how to fly the Vector, which in turn becomes the main entertainment of the game.
Flying one of these strange, mech-jet hybrids is an absolute blast. Really, if there’s one thing to be taken from playing Strike Vector EX, it is the game’s control scheme. In most air-combat games, or segments of games, the vehicles being piloted by the player is constantly moving forward. Usually, I wind up crashing into cliff sides or dipping too fast to avoid artillery shells. Yet, Strike Vector EX fixes this conundrum by putting the unit in a constant hover, transforming into a faster jet plane by holding the L2 button.
This creates a sort of “stop and go” mechanic that actually works quite well in the heat of a dogfight. I found myself easily zipping between the pipes of the mining facilities to avoid danger, only to dip below, circle around, and unload the Gatling gun on my foes. Not only that, but while the game is primarily played in third person, the triangle button switches to a cockpit view for tighter maneuvers. Snapping between these two views is easy and finding out which perspective works for each situation leads to some stunning battles. This sort of gameplay creates a rhythm to the action, and getting into that groove has made Strike Vector EX a bit of contradiction for me.
I didn’t think much of the game while playing through the “story” mode. In fact, this mode feels like a pretty mobile game. The environments weren’t all that interesting, there were few memorable set pieces, and once again the story is just awful. Yet, there I was on a Saturday afternoon, draining hours of my day into killing bots with my buddy Eli. We tried all sorts of weapon combos and utilities, pimping our little Vector into a badass machine that we quickly became experts at piloting. There were few bots that could take us down. Unfortunately, the game is a barren wasteland when it comes to players. We only found two human players in the six hour span we spent with the game, but the combat was just so much fun, it was hard to stop. This dead community permeates the Steam version as well, which may explain the need to port the title to a new audience.
Overall, Strike Vector EX is a perfect example of how to incorporate a game’s mechanics into the action. This combines with the visuals of the whooshing winds, the lasers whizzing past, and whir of engines to make for a really interesting action game. Getting a few friends together in a lobby of Strike Vector EX can definitely make for an epic weekend. Those into game design or are interested in game design principles should also look into Strike Vector EX or the original version, solely for its controls.
However, there is just no long term benefits to the game. I would love to see this universe expanded upon. Put this level of gameplay mastery into a world that’s as interesting as say anything Gundam or Evangelion and Ragequit Corporation could have a manifesto on their hands. In its current state though, Strike Vector EX will sadly be forgotten, only to be remembered years from now on a “Top Ten Obscure Games” list.
I do hope to see more of this level of action development from Ragequit Corporation though. Let’s hope Strike Vector EX serves as a launch point to an epic journey of rocking games.