By: Jeff Cater
Strike Vector EX saw an initial release on PC in 2014 under the same name, minus the EX. Developed and published by Ragequit Corporation, Strike Vector EX puts you in the pilot seat of a wickedly nimble and versatile fighter/mech hybrid called a Vector.
Your Vector can shift into two different modes at the pull of the left trigger. When held, your Vector will be speeding through the air like a fighter jet, but once you let it go you shift into turret-like machine that lets you turn around much faster.
While in either mode you can hold the left stick and press square to initiate a missile-dodging evasive maneuver, but each mode also has unique actions as well such as the ability to move laterally with R1 and L1 while in turret mode.
Orientation of your ship and aim is governed by the right stick, which is a little wonky to get used to at first, but after a short while transforming and dodging with the left side of the controller it eventually makes sense and works out quite well. There’s no way to control the roll of your ship though, which is weird considering the crazy stunts you’ll be pulling throughout your playtime.
The Unreal Engine 4 is capable of some incredible things, but Strike Vector EX is a bit reserved visually. That’s not to say that the game is bad looking, it’s just extremely fast-paced, and the details of the environments and ships fit the bill so don’t go in expecting excruciating detail. It also moves gloriously and features some pretty nice chunky explosion and weapon effects.
One issue that’ll get a lot of people is that the color palette makes enemies extremely hard to see; you’ll be fighting orange- and red-colored ships against a gigantic orange and red aerial construct and these Vectors and friggin’ teensy beetsy! The orange indicators highlighting your enemies tends to get lost easily as well, leaving most firefights to the open skylines where a clear outline of your opponent can be seen.
The soundtrack is somewhere between Dimmu Borgir and U2. In all seriousness, the soundtrack is pretty well done but definitely takes a back seat to the visual chaos. Voice work is uninspired but gets the job done — and let’s face it: you probably won’t be spending much time in the campaign.
Strike Vector EX‘s campaign puts you in the jump-boots of a rookie Vector pilot trying to earn his stripes with the rebel forces after defecting because, well, his job sucked and the personalities of his former faction were extremely dull. Mission structure varies from “shoot down those guys” to “protect those guys, shoot the others,” and honestly feels quite a bit drawn out.
Luckily Strike Vector EX gives you a healthy dose of fun multiplayer options, which is where the real game lies. There are six different modes to choose from, with expected variants of DM and TDM (Battle and Squad Battle) along with Capture the Flag and King of The Hill. The two more unique modes are Bounty Hunter and Demolition; you’ll be killing for cash in the former and the destruction of your enemies’ resources award you victory in the latter.
Sometimes it’s a bit hard to find a full match, but the game will fill any gaps with AI so it’s sometimes hard to notice, especially with everything around you either shooting rockets or straight-up electricity at you. Dodging is a skill you’ll quickly refine with your time in the game, both away from rockets and the landscape itself.
Level design is superb and each stage features some nifty nooks and crannies you can whip your ship through if The Force is strong with you. Finding said areas usually rewards you with pick-ups that either repair your ship or shorten the cooldown of your secondary weapon by a few seconds.
You can also edit your loadout for your Vector mid-match as well, so if you’re having troubles gunning people down with the Gatling gun maybe give the carbine or shotgun a go. Getting shot out of the sky too easily? Maybe switch away from the infra-sensor to the heavy armor!
Strike Vector EX is an insanely fun and balanced multiplayer title that just happens to have a short, meaningless campaign tacked onto it. That never happens in the gaming industry, right? Either way, it serves up a ton of explosions and barrels of fast-paced shooty action that comes at you from all angles.