Vector Thrust

Game review by
Michael Lafferty, Common Sense Media
Vector Thrust Game Poster Image
Arcade flight sim engaging, but poor controls can frustrate.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this game.

Positive Messages

Positive accolades minimized by constant battles.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Players take on the role of a nameless pilot, but main focus is aerial combat, so there's only the player's side and targets. 

Ease of Play

Trying to fly with a keyboard is like trying to fly a brick: It's clumsy, doesn't work very well. Plays much better with gamepad.

Violence

Combat between vehicles, so no animations associated with humans dying. Your plane will take damage when hit, eventually exploding with enough damage.

Sex
Language
Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Vector Thrust is a downloadable aerial-combat flight game. There's a single-player campaign where gamers take out computer-controlled opponents and multiplayer arenas for pilots to fight each other. Though players can use a keyboard, the game is a lot easier to control with a gamepad. Violence is limited to vehicular explosions, so there's no blood or gore shown when opponents are destroyed. Otherwise, there's no objectionable content, although, since multiplayer is unmoderated, players can be exposed to inappropriate content.

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What's it about?

VECTOR THRUST is a single and mulltiplayer combat-flight game that takes place against a post-war backdrop and features six modes of play (Quick Action, Campaign, Battle, Skirmish, Multiplayer, and Challenge). There are no difficulty settings, but the challenge ramps up in intensity with each successive mission. There are 13 missions in the campaign mode involving aerial, ground, and sea combat, while Quick Action can randomly generate a mission. As players go through the Challenge mode, they earn points, which, in turn, can unlock more airplanes and weapons. Finally, the editor mode lets players create their own missions and objectives; it includes a map, mission, and campaign-editing option.

Is it any good?

This solid flight-combat game should entertain sim fans, but newcomers to the genre could be intimidated. It harkens back to the good old days of PC gaming when companies such as Jane's Combat Simulation games put players in the cockpits of some top-end jets and asked them to duke it out in cyberskies. Where Vector Thrust differs is that it's less technical and more like an arcade fighter. It has done away with realistic graphics to serve up a stylized, cel-shaded adventure with just enough eye candy to entertain without taking away from the action. The amount of game modes is a plus, and the editor is a very nice add-in. The game looks good, and its sound effects are passable for fast-paced play. But the game could use longer mission briefings that explain your tasks, as well as a tutorial to ease players into the fight. Plus, though there are a lot of planes (and some are quite imaginative), the starting set feels cumbersome. It takes time to build up enough points to buy a good plane, but once that happens the game seems to take on a renewed life.

These are minor issues, but where the game falters is the controls. It sports keyboard controls, where are clumsy and frustrating. If you don't have a gamepad or an old flight-control joystick, forget about playing. The thing about aerial combat is that it often happens from a distance at a high rate of speed, so with kills (and deaths) feeling unexpected, having controls that fail you can infuriate players. At its core, Vector Thrust is solid, with a lot of planes, game modes, and options that should keep aerial-combat enthusiasts enthralled for hours. But newcomers might find it a bit tough and won't last long in the cockpit.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about violence in games such as Vector Thrust. Should more games try to minimize the blood and gore shown in combat?

  • Talk about the history of aviation. How did aerial combat change warfare? What are the advantages and disadvantages of having a strong air military presence?

Game details

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For kids who love simulations

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