Hands-on With Sprint Vector (HTC Vive)
Please note this hands-on was created using a beta preview code for the game. Therefore the final release may have implemented some changes.
The team behind Raw Data (Survios) have recently held a closed beta for their new VR title Sprint Vector, and I was lucky enough to get to play the HTC Vive version of the game. So, what did I think about it?
Firstly, if you are not aware of what Sprint Vector is I think the best way I could explain is TRON without the bikes, more running/skating. Think real heart-pumping racing, but not behind the wheel of the car… and some real exercise to play it.
I was keeping a close eye on Sprint Vector after it was seen at E3 2017, and then looked at getting into the beta after the Alienware VR Cup at CES 2018. The reason the game got my attention at the announcement was the fact Raw Data was my first experience with the HTC Vive, when I got to try it out at Belong Teesside – which convinced me I really needed to get a HTC Vive myself. This then peaked my interest because I was thinking Raw Data and Sprint Vector are two completely different genres and ideas – so could they pull of making a great title in Sprint Vector. I was so pleased when my Beta code arrived (big thanks to the Survios PR team for hooking me up).
When playing the game, it is such a simple concept. As you placed in the shoes of one of the racers in the tournament, you will have to complete some actions to get yourself moving. This is where the aforementioned real exercise comes into game. Although you will be stood on the spot, in order to get moving and picking up speed you are going to have to move your arms like you are running, the quicker and smoother the motion the quicker you move in the game. So, where this might sound like you will just be flailing your arms about there is actually some skill and timing involved. This will also need some level of fitness to play it for long stints, at first I thought it was going to be easy-going and not that tiring, but trying to keep up with others in multiplayer had me exhausted after a few races – maybe more down to my fitness levels, but it’s certainly a work out.
Outside of the core mechanic of running it also adds other elements, like obstacles to jump and a way to fly through the air if you boost of a ramp. Again these are all controlled with your arms, to jump you need to move the controllers in a downwards motion (can do this twice to double jump) and to fly you just straighten your arms out. When it comes to turning you have to look the way you want to turn and turn yourself that way, you can turn sharply when flying by turning your arms like you would a steering wheel. With all the options available there is a number of routes and ways you can tackle the courses, with some giving you an advantage. Add to all this power-ups about the courses and the ability to fire missiles at your opponents and you have a very tactical based racer on your hands as well. There is also a climbing added into some of the stages, meaning it really does throw a lot at you.
Where all of this may seem overwhelming as you start out in the game, when you get used to it everything flows together perfectly. Which really does make for some addicting gameplay, and the feeling you want to get that first moral boosting win under your belt. Also, this process is helped by the very detailed and levelled tutorial system in the game.
When it comes to visuals and sound the game holds up with the gameplay. The visual style of the game is very bright and bold, and comes with the cell-shaded look of games like Borderlands, and even-though you will be moving through the stages at breakneck speeds when you have the mechanics down you will still feel the strength of the visual style. When it comes down the audio, you will get some humorous advert announcements by the commentators about things like deodorants, and although the game is about heart-pumping races the backing music is quite laid-back and not a fast paced as you would think – like other fast paced racers like Wipeout take. However, it all seems to pull together to make for a great overall presentation.
Control-wise this is played using the Tracked Motion controllers, as mentioned the main movement is down to your own arm movements, but you need to hold and release the triggers at the right time in those movements to get going. You can also double tap the triggers to fire your missile, or activate the power up you have collected – and by the way if you get a boost power-up you can take a break from the spiriting movement when this is active. When it comes to the climbing you will hold the trigger to grab onto the edges, and will look up and do the jumping mechanic to launch yourself. Your break it attached to the side grips, so you really do need to be careful not to press these as you concentrate on trying to get into first place.
Again, this all may sound technical, but after a while with the game these will start to become second nature like the gameplay mechanics. Throughout my time with the beta, my only gripe with the controllers was the breaking system, as you want to grip the controllers to make sure they stay in your hand, but this causes the pressing in of the those side grips by accident on many occasions – so maybe these could have been assigned better.
I’m sure you are thinking with the fast movement surely this will not be great for motion sickness?… Well I am not sure how they have done it, but this really isn’t an issue with the game. OK, the first time I played it and completed the basic tutorial my legs seemed odd and went a bit wobbly when jumping over gaps, as it felt like my body was actually doing this – but that is a separate thing from motion sickness. After a few more of these jumps this was no longer happening, so that was really the only uncomfortable feeling that happened – and it was very brief. However, I would like to add even-though I did not feel any motion sickness this can vary per person, so it doesn’t necessarily mean people wont.
Sprint Vector brings with it some real heart-pumping racing and something 100 percent unique to the VR medium. The racing will have you moving at breakneck speeds, but somehow does not cause any discomfort. With its outstanding presentation and addicting gameplay, I really can not wait for the full release and being able to jump back into the game. With the way the game plays and the competitive nature it can bring with it, I can really see this being the first VR e-sports contender. But, for all those who like their gaming relaxing and laid-back expect some exercise if you decided to play this game.
Version Played for Hands-on: HTC Vive