I'd honestly like to recommend this game, but the current state makes it hard to accept its status as full retail and the overall price. While it has its redeemable elements, the issues outweight the cost for the game at the current moment.
First off, if you're here wanting an Ace Combat experience, the game is not what you're looking for. Boot up Ace Combat Infinity or hook up an emulator and dust off your PS2 disks instead. Vector Thrust has a lot of promise but at the moment there are many issues that need to be addressed before it happens.
Vector Thrust is an indie air combat simulator game with a cel-shaded art direction developed by the TimeSymmetry team, published under Iceberg Interactive. The game features arcade shooter elements such as large amounts of ammunition and fictional aircraft as well as setting, quick-action and skirmish modes, several challenge stages, standalone battle scenarios and a story-driven campaign. There are dozens of aircraft families to chose from, with several variants for each, with aircraft both famous and less-widely-known. The game features original musical score by José Pavli.
● Interesting proposal of a constructed world and timeline, in similar fashion to the known Ace Combat series.
● Active modding community with many additional aircraft, paint schemes, NPC voices, weapon, scenery, and extra content
● Good graphical detail on aircraft exteriors as well as weapons.
● Cel-shaded artstyle that gives a colorful, unique appearance to the game.*
○ Underwhelming amount of content for a full release, with many placeholder and seemingly rushed material, as well as incomplete or missing individual aircraft, challenge and aircraft family descriptions.
○ Disorganized content that yields misreferencered audio and dialogue, mismatching speech and text along occasional typos.
○ Slow campaign story pacing, with little emotional response to character interaction.*¹
○ Scenery seems simple and uninteresting at best, and downright barreen at worst.
○ Removal-- and subsequent lack of restoration of HUD customization from older versions.
○ Steep AI difficulty curve from unresponsive to highly challenging during gameplay.
○ Friendly AI ground units during campaign seem to be mainly unresponsive to enemy presence.
○ Occasional crashes during gameplay.
○ Sound effects are toned down from how they actually sound in reality, along a distinct lack of sound in some occasions (sounds after a certain distance are inaudible, secondary aircraft explosions lack sound, etc).
○ Anti-air artillery and guns are exceedingly lethal (ranging from straight bullet death rays with zero spread to one-shell-kills) for a game that tries leaning to an arcade style, and missile guidance seems to be overly inaccurate.*
○ Voice acting can be described as "campy" in some lines, while it seems to be toned down in others.*
*: In my personal view and/or opinion.
¹: Take in consideration I've only played until the mission where you engage the three Ziz superweapons and a Legionaire
, I'll edit accordingly once I finish the campaign.
Now, I will admit that I didn't buy this game expecting a perfect Ace Combat Infinity replacer on the PC, with all its features and complete, polished game mechanics, but Vector Thrust fails to accomplish a few things that I needed to have the patience to personally dig up info around (missing descriptions for aircraft like the XF10F, find proper replacement sounds for explosions and gunfire, add and reposition special weapons on aircraft that lacked secondary weapons while there were obvious hardpoints to support those, etc.) which wouldn't be needed to be done otherwise, which eventually got wiped as files were revalidated and updated into newer files, which, while I had hoped would have even more accurate info than what I had found out and filled in, sadly were the previous state of the files before I made any changes.
I'll give the TS team credit, the game has come a long way from the start as far as I see, but despite the slow update frequency I would rather have it that way than leave early access in the current state-- which just feels forced. Many things like aforementioned typos and dialogue lines being cut short or misrefrenced, or even missing, it all makes me feel like the game still needed more development and content before being branded as full retail version.
This doesn't mean I gave up on the game, and all things considered, it is a decent game on itself with good potential, but for its current price Vector Thrust is not a reasonable deal at all, which is the main issue and a huge turn-off for anyone interested. I'm hoping that the devs don't take this review wrong as being only me lashing out disappointment, because in fact, those are just issues I'd rather see addressed sooner than later, since I hope to see this game attain a proper status as spriritual successor to Ace Combat. Right now however, it's not.