Thursday, September 18, 2014

Early Access Preview - Vector Thrust

Vector Thrust

Developed by TimeSymmetry Publishing by Iceberg Interactive 

Now Available on Steam Early Access

Flight simulators are something I haven't been able to get into for many years, not since the earlier days of console flight combat when there were fun and less complicated arcade action experiences that focused more on intense combat than technical realism.

Vector Thrust is the only of its kind in a long while to grab my attention and keep me plowing through the campaign obsessively the same way I did all those years ago, marathoning rental copies of Ace Combat for hours through late summer nights off from school.

In production for over two long years of dedicated development, Vector Thrust has already found a loyal fanbase of people such as myself who have been yearning for a lost aerial combat experience that is easy enough to hop into for all skill levels while still challenging enough to encourage thorough practice and countless heated retries in arcade spirit. Vector Thrust is a one of a kind aerial combat title that excels where the bigger companies have failed recently in delivering open dogfighting action that manages to keep me wanting to play through objectives over and over due to being just plain entertaining without the filler of modern games.

The game presents an ass kicking soundtrack as well as a slick cell-shaded style that while not exactly realistic gives a polished and stylish appearance to the explosive imagery of combat. Though it may not be a popular choice, it stands out and gave me a certain nostalgia for the cell-shaded visuals in Robotech: Battlecry and similar arcade-y air combat titles of the PS2 era.

The two campaign are a work in progress but already feature sixteen action packed missions between them that showcase everything from intercepting bombers to bombing carriers out in the ocean. These cover the core types of objectives you'll be carrying out as the game is fleshed out during its Early Access period and the campaign is crafted into a complete story with a narrative.

The variety and accessibility of the missions keeps the modest length campaign engaging from beginning to end, ground assaults feel a little rough with not a lot of risk of being shot down as you descend to bomb them but air-to-air dogfights are exhilarating and incredibly well done. Air-to-air combat is intense and fast paced and the A.I. is cunning and deceptive in how it maneuvers out of your view and attempts to keep you in sight at all times.

Before embarking on any given mission you're given a selection of true to life aircraft and their respective weapons to consider when taking on specific tasks. The selection is already great ranging from heavy and slow A-10 bombers to quick and deadly F-15 fighters and each excel in their own unique way, requiring you to put some thought into what you bring with you into combat. The environments you take flight in are gorgeous setting that paint the perfect backdrop for an all-out war, ranging from the dusty sand dunes of deserts to the sunny islands of the tropics.

The challenge mode appears to be the real bread and butter of the game being where most of the hundreds of aircraft are unlocked in the expansive tree of increasingly powerful choices. Each plane unlocked is a new mission earned, leading to even more unlocks for a massive amount of content that is genuinely exciting to blast through. The challenges are quick craft-specific tests of reflex and skill that present you with a seemingly simple task but must be conquered in expert speed.

These challenges are generally straight forward enough to finish, but the real difficulty comes in learning how complete each one in quick enough time to earn yourself a decent enough grade to move on and earn your next fighter and its respective mission. Each of the challenges include both a local and online score board enticing the player to revisit each of the diabolical scenarios to test your ability and see how you fare against the rest of the world.

Vector Thrust has come a long way since its already electrifying early alpha and is already the perfect arcade combat sim for people who just want to jump into some action and shoot their opposition out of the sky. With the promise of a fleshed out narrative that dramatically pulls you into the action in classic Ace Combat fashion, a more fleshed out multiplayer experience, and heaps more content to an already huge roster of available airplanes and modes this is the number one air combat fix to keep an eye on right now.

Whether you're a thrill-seeking arcade action fan looking for that quick dogfight or a hardcore sim veteran with a love for realism looking for something different Vector Thrust is absolutely the most accessible fun you'll have in a game in the genre which says a lot given the indie status, small budget, and even smaller team and it can only get better on its way out of Early Access.

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