Every once in awhile you have the opportunity to play a game in the comfort of your own home that feels like it was meant to be in an arcade. Strike Vector Ex, to me, is one of those games. Fast, frenetic gameplay combined with bright colors and awesome explosions, Strike Vector Ex had me feeling like putting a quarter on my screen to claim my spot as the next player. How many quarters would I have been willing to plop down? Let’s take a look…
Jumping in, I was immediately aware at how well the game controls. You have two options while piloting your vector, fast mode and hover mode. Both do exactly what it sounds like they would, but I was initially worried that hover mode would be worthless in what I presumed would be an extremely quickly paced game. Luckily, the level design gives you equal opportunity to put both modes through the paces and recognizing when to use each mode helps pave the way to victory.
Outside of the different modes of movement, Strike Vector Ex allows you to customize your weapon, special action, and specialization. Each of these areas are initially limited in the campaign but as you progress, more options are given to you. Luckily in multiplayer, everything is available from the start. One reason this is so critical is your ability to customize your vector greatly changes how you play the game and interact with enemies. You can be a long range sniper who cloaks to a vector that gets up close with a shotgun style weapon and extra armor to just about everything in between. The versatility of the loadouts was an unexpected surprise to me. While I did find particular builds I enjoyed most and gravitated to them, I did take the time to see what everything had to offer. This was less true in the campaign as weapons and abilities opened slowly, but in multiplayer I was switching loadouts between every match.
The tight controls path the way for a bombastic multiplayer with numerous game types. Playing the multiplayer was as exhilarating as playing many FPS games while adding significantly enhanced mobility. Imagine chasing down the opposing team through open space only to slam on the brakes and navigate the tight corridors of a giant floating facility. You turn the corner and fire off your swarm missiles at an opposing ship and drop a mine behind you for the welcoming party trying to take you by surprise as you blast off again into space, looking to double-back and clean-up anyone left from the mine explosion. Scenarios like this happen constantly throughout the multiplayer, and it is enjoyable to play. The only downfall is actually finding a game. If you search too long, you will be placed into a game with bots, which is great, but the vast majority of the games I played (80 – 90%) were only with bots. On the rare occasion I found another person, the matchups tended to be close, tense, battles. Those against bots were lopsided beatdowns.
If the multiplayer is the highlight of the game, the single-player campaign is a story of what could have been. As you load into each mission you see a leaderboard with the lowest time for completing the mission. I initially thought these times were incredibly low and that folks had clearly practiced to shave off seconds as many of them were in the 2 or 3 minute range. I quickly learned that I would complete most missions in 3 or 4 minutes the first time, with my longest being a shade over 5. Granted, this does not include the story banter that happens before and after missions, but having to load out of a mission, select the next mission, listen to the story that happens, play the mission, listen to more story and then load out of the mission may take 10 minutes, but you only actually played for 3 or 4 of those minutes. If the story or characters were more compelling or interesting, I may have enjoyed it more, but I really struggled to care about what was happening. The voice acting really tried to engage me in the story, but I just could not connect to my character. The game lays out a pretty clear narrative and motivation in the very beginning, but my character just seemed to jump ship to different factions and loyalties at the drop of a hat, for not a very clear reason. I would have appreciated a shorter, more straightforward story with longer missions over the story the developer tried to weave.
From a technical standpoint, Strike Vector Ex is virtually flawless. The game flows seamlessly and there was never any framerate hitches, crashes, or bugs that I ran into. With the number of games that release with issues, it is nice to play something that just works exactly how you expect it to, especially when so much speed and precision is required. Granted, the load times can be a bit long, but definitely not unreasonable. Combined with great visuals (the vectors are nicely detailed and each environment feels unique) and a solid soundtrack, you soon realize that, from a production standpoint, this is a really good game.
While the campaign is nothing special (it is enjoyable enough to complete, but I will never replay it) the total package is a fun, well crafted shooter. The biggest problem Strike Vector Ex has is the best part of the game (the multiplayer) is not populated enough for the game to fulfill its potential. Despite that, I will still be jumping into the multiplayer, blowing up bots, and working on trophies with the hopes others will soon be putting their quarters on the arcade cabinet, hoping to take me down.
Strike Vector Ex was reviewed using a PS4 code provided by the publisher. You can read additional information about PSVG’s review policy on our disclaimer page here.