by Joseph Leray
I was pretty enamored with "EVR," the Oculus Rift space-dogfighting game by CCP, when I played it earlier this year. The decline of the flight sim genre has been well-documented, and it's not often enough that people get to suit up, strap in, and blow each other up into teensy-tiny smithereens.
Alas, there's no release date in sight for the Oculus Rift. What's a boy to do? Enter "Strike Vector."
The skinny: "Strike Vector" is a multiplayer arena combat game made in ten months by the four people at the appropriately-named Team Strike using Unreal Engine 3.
In a word, the game looks good, its floating oil rigs and slumtowns dense and detailed. There's some sort of dystopian backstory about mercenary fighter pilots working for mega-corporations, but the important thing is being able to swoop in and out of post-industrial nooks and crannies in search of people to explode.
Here's the hook: each Vector -- i.e., ship -- can be flown in either "jet mode" or "hover mode." Jet mode is self-explanatory: zoom around, shoot missiles, make Top Gun jokes. In hover mode, however, "Strike Vector" plays more like a first-person mech-style game: you can strafe, turn in 360 degrees, and use ironsights.
Destructible environments and customizable ships round out "Strike Vector"'s list of features, the sum of which seem designed to provide plenty of variables to make each match dynamic, or at least new-feeling. There's more information on the game's official site.
So, to recap: "Yes" to dogfighting games, "yes" to impressive efforts from tiny indie studios, "yes" to finding a new term besides "dogfight" to describe videogames about airplane combat. I'm always afraid people are going to think that there are games out there about actual illegal dog fighting. Spaceships and lasers are way better.
"Strike Vector" probably won't be ready until 2014, but until then, there's a Steam Greenlight page.
Joseph Leray is a freelance writer from Nashville. Follow him on Twitter