When you hear word that a game is retro-inspired, what's the first thing that comes to mind?
Pixelated homages to platformers long past? The type of title that takes stalwart mechanics and filters them through decades of proven formulas to make them palatable to today's gamer? Something that straddles the line between tasteful tribute and blatant rip-off? Assumptions are easily made, but sometimes you never know what you're truly going to get.
Vektor Wars by Super Icon takes 'retro-inspired' in a different direction. It's a first-person arcade shooter with more similarities to Robotron: 2084 than, say, Doom. It's dripping with a love for neon and polygons, of obnoxiously loud and thrumming techno music with a dash 80s-infused death robots. It is a game that looks like what we all hoped the future would be in that decadent decade.
The goal of the majority of Vector Wars is simple: survive. Wave after wave of simply animated machines will randomly generate throughout the large maps, all homing in on your position and all wanting you to meet your demise. There are approximations of everything from tanks to drones to foot soldiers, all with little to no A.I. pushing them ever forward towards you. There isn't much of a tactical bent to it at all; its run, shoot and hopefully live. It is an arcade game in spirit if not in format.
All that robot blasting would be boring if you didn't have an arsenal to shake things up. Much like a tried-and-true first-person shooter your ordnance is familiar, but comforting in its fire power. Things like mini-guns, rocket launchers and shotguns pad your loadout, each lasting for a short while before disappearing as you pepper your foes with ammunition. Strategy doesn't stray far beyond things like using shotguns up close or strafing at all times, but with an undeterred army of mecha chasing after you, thinking terribly hard is probably not in your best interest.
Vector Wars shakes things up by adding a bevy of play modes to accompany the dependable story mode. Arcade mode gives you three lives and pushes you to see how long you can survive an interminable wave of bots. Deadline, on the other hand, gives you five minutes to create as much havoc as you possible can. Sequence takes Deadline one step further by giving you two minutes in each zone for a different kind of chase to the top of the leaderboards. Lastly there's Survival, which tasks you with going as far as you can on one life with the stipulation that you have to destroy a robot every thirty seconds. Vektor Wars is built for short play sessions, so anyone hoping for more depth might be disappointed.
Not everything in Vektor Wars is neon sunshine and rainbows. It suffers from stuttering every now and again, regardless of what's on screen. Luckily precision isn't key in winning in this game, but it's noticeable. Likewise, big explosions are brought to big effect when you down certain enemy craft and the screen shake can be somewhat disorienting. This on the other hand can cost you a match as the simple graphics can blend together, and by the time you get your bearings the enemy will have come down on you and you're done. Again, nothing game breaking but worth mentioning.
Vektor Wars is filled with a loving reverence to the "future" that the 80s promised. It's the type of game you'd see on a big screen display with gaudy plastic guns for full effect, but instead is humbly played on your GamePad. If the idea of arcade-style survival games in a neon-soaked, Tron-like world piques your interest, than this might be worth your time.