Published on March 15th, 2018 | by Sean Warhurst
Sprint Vector VR Review
Summary: If you have PSVR and are looking for a racing game that captures the playful spirit of the Mario Kart games but will also make you work for that sweet taste of victory, then definitely give Sprint Vector a look.
The Running Man
With an endearing mixture of the bubblegum pop aesthetic of Jet Set Radio and an intuitive first person parkour system that is reminiscent of Mirror’s Edge, only with the welcome addition of Mario Kart-esque power-ups and boosts, Sprint Vector immediately ticks a lot of boxes for what I look for when choosing “Sport” games.
Despite traditionally not being the biggest fan of the genre, whacky deviations that still remain classified as being “Sports” titles, such as the aforementioned Jet Set Radio or combo heavy games like the classic Tony Hawk series, were among some of my favourite gaming experiences as a kidlet and I’ve been waiting for a game to come to VR that gave me the same rush of adrenaline I used to get when playing them.
Sprint Vector definitely fulfils that desire, with the caveat that your mileage will vary depending on how physically fit you are; much like Sparc or Superhot VR, Sprint Vector is a fairly active game that requires constant movement of the arms in order to simulate running and gain momentum within the game.
While players are given the choice between playing in a standing or seated position, the former seems to be the only way to play the game with any success, as I found swinging my arms frantically whilst sitting on my couch only really resulted in bruised elbows from when I’d leaned too far into a turn.
But, removed from the vague comparisons to other games above, what exactly is Sprint Vector? Well, in essence players assume the role of one of a handful of professional runners, with a fairly visually diverse selection at hand that all share the same base stats, and then race against either online opponents or NPCs across tracks that offer varied and challenging obstacles to overcome.
Luckily your character can do far more than just run – Aside from building your “stride” by swinging your arms and releasing the trigger during your downward swings, you can also jump huge gaps, glide, scale walls, launch yourself skyward with a quick pull, shoot obstacles and much more.
The selection of different movement options is a little daunting at first, but after a few races and some time spent in the tutorial you’ll be bounding around the place like an old pro in no time at all… Well, when the controls work as intended, that is.
The fluid locomotion system works superbly when performing most actions, particularly when building your stride, but issues can arise when trying to launch yourself to the top of walls; sometimes you’ll pull it off perfectly and the next time you’ll perform the exact same action yet push yourself out and away from the wall instead, setting your progress back precious seconds. Propelling yourself quickly up walls was unfortunately just too inconsistent to pull off for me not to make mention of it, but rest assured that everything else, including turning using both your head or the snap turn buttons, all seem to do what the game promises on the tin.
Although the rudimentary movement system the game eases you into is more than enough to jump in and start tearing down the track, you’ll have to master the more advanced techniques if you want any chance at securing victory, particularly when playing against online opponents; as is the case with most racing games, one little mistake can send you to the back of the pack and the pressure to perform to your peak is even more heightened when playing in virtual reality.
Unfortunately I could only find literally one race online, and that was against only two other opponents, but hopefully as the community grows this won’t be an issue; you can switch your search between UK and US servers, with the UK being the one I found success with, but I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that it was a shame to spend much of my time playing this prime candidate for hectic online action against the CPU opponents.
Sprint Vector has twelve tracks to choose from, with most averaging around three minutes or so in length. While this may sound a little on the skimpy side, each track boasts multiple routes that change things up to a satisfying degree, making sure that each race plays out slightly differently. Adding power-ups into the equation also helps in this regard, giving players a quick boost or projectile attacks, amongst others, to help even things out a little.
Besides the straightforward races, there’s also a series of challenge stages, collection modes, expert races and time trials to tackle, showing that Sprint Vector has a lot more content to offer than one would initially gather; there are even nearly ten stages that are unique to these modes, bringing the total courses up to just over twenty.
Graphics and Audio
The bright and garish visuals of Sprint Vector work perfectly and reminds one of the colourful cel-shaded graphics of Jet Set Radio, only this time you’re actually seeing that world through your own eyes. The environments aren’t anywhere near as varied or as intricately designed as Jet Set Radio, preferring to obviously stick to set tracks rather than a semi-open world, but the cartoony visuals more than do the job and Sprint Vector excels in track design in its own way.
The boisterous gameshow host and funky electronic music really sells the sensation of taking part in a futuristic gameshow, with nary any complaints at all in the audio department. Sure, some of the tunes can get a bit repetitive after you’ve spent some time with the game but, honestly, that’s true of most games.
Once you master the fluid locomotion system and more advanced techniques, playing Sprint Vector is an exhilarating experience unlike anything else available on the VR format; indeed, a game like this could only truly work in virtual reality.
The sensation of movement is unparalleled and, for me at least, didn’t trigger any form of motion sickness, even when bounding over a chasms, flinging myself up the side of a climbing walls and launching into a flying descent to the finish line; stringing together the varied moveset on hand is an immensely satisfying feeling and Sprint Vector rewards persistence by showing clear improvement each time you tackle a course.
Again though, I must reiterate that Sprint Vector is an extremely tiring game, with my first few sessions rarely extending beyond three or so races; with time, though, I found that I could easily go through double or even triple that without breaking a sweat, so score one for inadvertent physical improvement alongside the in-game abilities.
If you have PSVR and are looking for a racing game that captures the playful spirit of the Mario Kart games but will also make you work for that sweet taste of victory, then definitely give Sprint Vector a look; it’s a unique experience than really has no current contemporary in either VR or traditional flatscreen gaming and just serves to show the potential for exploring different genres in new and exciting ways through use of virtual reality.
Primary Format – PlayStation 4 (PSVR Required)
Game Genre – Racing
Rating – PG
Game Developer – Survios
Game Publisher – Survios
Reviewer – Sean Warhurst