Strike Vec­tor

EDGE - - GAMES - Pub­lisher/de­vel­oper Rage­quit Cor­po­ra­tion For­mat PC Re­lease Out now

PC

Four-man French in­die Rage­quit bills its de­but mul­ti­player twitch shooter as a “bru­tal” aerial com­bat game, and it isn’t mess­ing around. In the early hours of this mod­ern spin on Quake’s legacy, it feels like we spend more time be­tween lives than we do in the air. Our Vec­tor spawns at screen-blur­ring speed on di­rect col­li­sion cour­ses with walls, dash­ing us cru­elly to bits be­fore we can get our bear­ings. We get va­por­ised by dis­tant pixel-sized en­e­mies cloaked in the cloy­ing fog that per­me­ates ev­ery map. We pump rounds into a mark only to have a stray piece of shrap­nel score the kill – no points for try­ing here.

With just nine slides and a free-flight mode to pre­pare you, Strike Vec­tor’s learn­ing curve isn’t steep so much as abyssal. You can sink 15 min­utes into a match and learn noth­ing of worth. What lit­tle you are taught is via slaps on the wrist: the first time you loose off a swarm mis­sile that promptly seeks out a team­mate is a painful les­son in Strike Vec­tor’s dis­dain for those who fail to grasp its in­scrutable sys­tems. It’s an at­trac­tive game, the bold colour pal­ettes ex­pertly cho­sen, but it’s aus­tere. And many won’t just ric­o­chet off its tow­er­ing walls – they’ll plum­met head­long into them and det­o­nate.

But around the four-hour mark, af­ter re­bind­ing our bugged W key and gain­ing our for­ward boost, a gestalt shift oc­curred. Gone was the sense of fly­ing a videogame cam­era in­stead of a craft; we’d learned to stop fight­ing the han­dling and love its dis­re­gard for physics. Gone too was the mo­men­tary but deadly con­fu­sion be­tween the flight and hover con­trols, which use the same keys for very dif­fer­ent ac­tions.

That sense of over­com­ing in­sur­mount­able odds is po­tent and high-level play is gid­dy­ing, full of daz­zling shootouts and whip­pet turns. You have mas­tered a bro­ken ma­chine and can be­gin to im­print your style on it. Teeth-grind­ing frus­tra­tion gives way to teeth-clench­ing ma­noeu­vres, and the warm glow of show­ing off a hard-earned skillset. And it’s here that you’ll ap­pre­ci­ate the un­lock sys­tem, which re­serves only cos­metic up­grades for pro­gres­sion.

Tough­ing out a few ob­tuse de­sign wrin­kles can be re­ward­ing, then, but much here is sim­ply bro­ken. Lag is the big­gest prob­lem, since tiny mar­gins for er­ror ren­der even small de­lays and po­si­tional cor­rec­tions fa­tal, but servers are un­der­pop­u­lated, and con­nec­tion drops and server-sort­ing bugs ham­pered the launch weeks. There’s a great twitch game be­neath this hos­tile ex­te­rior, but Rage­quit can’t af­ford to test play­ers’ en­durance on so many lev­els if its niche shooter is to thrive.

Strike Vec­tor should never have to worry over com­plaints of be­ing too ac­ces­si­ble. The place­ment of some boost rings is so awk­ward that most of the path be­yond is wall, with only su­pe­rior re­flexes able to avoid a crash

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