Movement is one of the toughest things to get right in virtual reality right now. It can work like a charm in some cases, transporting you to a world that you feel fully immersed in as you interact with the environment around you. Or, it can knock you off guard and send you searching for the nearest toilet. Sprint Vector, the next PlayStation VR title from the developer of Raw Data, takes a huge risk in designing the entire experience around how you navigate it, and boy does it pay off. This is the next must-have virtual reality game.
Achieving first place in any of Sprint Vector’s fast-paced races is done by taking advantage of the Fluid Locomotion system, the mechanic that gets you moving. With the PlayStation Move controllers in hand, you’ll swing your arms like you’re running in real life and, in combination with the holding and letting go of the trigger buttons, you’ll perform a forward motion. This is called your Stride, and getting into a constant rhythm generates speed. Tilting your head will trigger slight turn changes, while sharper apexes can be mastered through the use of quick turns mapped to the Move controller’s face buttons. Obstacles are aplenty on every track, and jumping over them can be done by performing the same motion as the Stride, but holding down the Move button instead. Combine both the triggers and the Move button and you’ll slam the breaks on to grind to a halt.
Master these controls and you’ll manage to make it to the finish line, but to be the one that raises the chequered flag, you’ll need to incorporate some of the more advanced techniques into your racing line. Holding your hands out while in the air with the trigger buttons held will cause you to fly back to the ground with a great deal of speed, launching yourself off a handheld upon a scalable wall will cover great distances in no time, and grabbing hold of a gripstream allows you to soar above the track to avoid some tight corners or pesky obstacles.
There’s so much depth to be explored here, and once you feel like you’ve got the hang of it all, the simple act of just moving about is an absolutely incredible feeling. The sense of speed generated by your Stride is unmatched and using that momentum to get up into the air and stay there for a surprising amount of time, is one of the most exciting and satisfying moments we’ve ever experienced in VR. And thanks to these unique sequences happening over and over again, Sprint Vector is a game that will have you coming back for more well past the moment you feel like you’ve mastered everything it has to offer.
The gateway to these elations are 12 tracks that range from the most basic of stages with simple obstacles to manoeuvre to the most advanced courses that incorporate every possible obstruction you could come across. This may not seem like a lot, especially since each race takes roughly two to three minutes to finish, but their variety comes from the diverse routes you can take to the finish line. At times there can be up to three different ways of traversing a certain section, and with there being multiple set-pieces that make up each track, it can feel like a completely different race every time if you vary your approach.
To go alongside the speedy highways, there’s eight different characters you can line up as on the grid, though there aren’t any stats attached to them, so this is purely a cosmetic option. There’s your typical super soldier, a musical DJ, and an infamous artist. But then there’s also the more exotic characters such as a female hologram, a sort of samurai frog, and another other-worldly creature named Hendrix.
To bolster the single player offering, you can also dip your toes into the Challenge levels, which take place on nine new courses and test your abilities to their limits. Time trials task you with reaching the goal inside a certain time, Collection tasks you with collecting coins to boost your allocated time before getting to the destination, and Hardcore puts you in a state of permanent overdrive without any checkpoints to save you.
Sprint Vector also ships with online multiplayer capabilities, but unfortunately we weren’t able to matchmake into a game pre-release. We assure you, though, if this offering resembles the single player races, then there’s long-lasting fun to be found competing against other people where everyone will be taking advantage of the most advanced techniques.
To mix up the gameplay even further, power-ups are thrown into the fray. Mines will slow you down if you charge into the area they affect, overdrive takes you to maximum speed in an instant, and hornet barrage fires three missiles that lock on to your opponents ahead of you. With a further six power-ups to mess around with, they’re more of a bonus to the core experience, but they’re certain to effect the outcome of a race once or twice. We most definitely had a few Mario Kart blue shell moments where we were pipped to the finish line thanks to a power-up from the second place opponent, and vice-versa.
Not everything is perfection, however. There was the odd occasion where we got stuck in geometry and had to restart the race due to there being no way to escape or reset yourself on the track, as well as a few frustrating moments where we would end up moving backwards after being brought to a halt by an obstacle, despite performing the correct motions. Thankfully, though, these annoyances were few and far between.
Sprint Vector is a game that needs to be experienced by every PlayStation VR headset owner. The unparalleled sense of speed created by your Stride is one of the greatest feelings in virtual reality, and then combining it with the more advanced techniques on offer gives you a huge amount of depth to explore and master. Flying through the air is incredible, scaling a wall is thrilling, and using all of that momentum to launch yourself to the chequered flag is exhilarating. There’s nothing else quite like Sprint Vector in virtual reality right now, and so this is one you absolutely need to experience for yourself.