What we’re playing Wednesday: Tim’s favorite

Although game development takes up a lot of our time, we’re also passionate gamers in our spare time. In this weekly item, Grendel monsters will tell about their favorite game they are currently playing. This week Tim holds the pen.

I’m often late to the party. I play less video games than I’d like to, and with the immense amount of video games that are being published on a monthly basis I find it hard to pick a game to play that I deem worthy of my time. What usually happens is that I end up rummaging through my Steam library’s “Pile of Shame” and that I’ll start to play something that’s considered “old” by most players. But yesterday’s news can still bring great insights, as is the case with my current love, “Strike Vector EX”.

I usually have a preference for single-player games with a either a strong emphasis on narrative (think RPG’s) or rather pure game play (think NEX Machina)  but there used to be an exception. You see, back in the days I was an absolute sucker for “Unreal Tournament”. Before all of the contemporary E-sports games, I would spend days playing online multiplayer matches as part of an organized clan. I was a true instagib junkie taunting other players and shooting them to ribbons, constantly climbing the tournament ladders for immortal internet glory.

Later, when actual MMO’s started to emerge I gave them a go, but the online aspect of other players interfered  with my 4th wall so much, that I decided to stick to single-player games. Also because I get slower, and the occasional bout with “Battlefront 2” or similar shooters just cements the notion that I’m pretty much done for when it comes to competitive play nowadays.

“Strike Vector EX” is a fast paced aerial shooter akin to “Descent”. Players control military vehicles called “Vectors” that can transform on a whim between an extremely fast and agile jet shape and a much slower but powerful mech form. Six degrees of freedom set it apart from the usual FPS fare, and gives anyone a fighting chance, even my slow self. Although the game sports a (rather forgettable) single player campaign its true beauty shines in its multiplayer modes. Your Vectors can be customized to a reasonable degree, with an assortment of destruction-deluxe to rip enemies to shreds and armour to prevent the very same from happening to you. The graphics are gorgeous, with environments made up of colourful floating dystopian cyberpunkish industrial motherships , but what I really like is how the game’s maps are designed and constructed. Because the level designers needed to take into account the two very different shapes of ships and their corresponding dynamics, levels are comprised of vast open areas to zoom through in jet mode whilst the hovering factories and cityscapes also offer enough nooks and crannies far more welcoming to the mech shape. The game is unforgiving in terms of collision detection, meaning that a brush with any setpiece in your jet mode, even a pixel, will immediately result in death. Experienced players can navigate these corridors at break-neck speed, but for the average player there’s more fruitful strategies to be developed to stay on top. “Strike Vector EX” scratches my online itch and tickles my nostalgia bone extremely well. Who knows, I might even go looking for a clan. 

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