Delta Strike: First Assault (PS Vita) Review

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Title: Delta Strike First Assault
Developer: Cerberus
Platform: PlayStation Vita
Game Type: Vita
Download:  200 MB
NA Availability: Digital Download
EU Availability: Currently Unavailable
PSTV Support: No

PlayStation Mobile died many months ago, but the games of PSM are still coming back in the form of native Vita games.  The Quiet Collections is one such example, which is a pretty nice collection of puzzle games.  Last week, it happened again.  A game that released on PlayStation Mobile has come to the PlayStation Vita.  This has also given me the opportunity to re-review a game, detailing what’s different or how much better the Vita version is compared to the PSM original.

This new game is something I reviewed the better part of 2 years ago.  A flying action game that felt more like a flying rail-shooter type game.  Once reviewed for PSM, here is my official review of the Vita version of Delta Strike: First Assault!

Story

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I’m a lot of levels away from General…

In Delta Strike, you are a newly-graduated pilot for the Air Force.  As soon as you come into the ranks, a terrorist organization called P.A.I.N. is at large, causing a war between you and them.  Your first missions are sent to thwart their attacks on the country as well as to end their plans of experimentation in creating super-weapons that would make them the dominant power in the world.

The story isn’t bad.  It can keep you entertained between missions, but it is in no way Ace Combat.  It’s interesting, but not something to keep you going.

Gameplay

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Don’t worry.  Only one wing is on fire…so far

Delta Strike is like a rail shooter, but with airplanes.  You could call it a flight simulator, but the way the game plays just have a strict tunnel-like rail shooter-like theme to it.  Flight Simulator makes you think Ace Combat and that’s really not what this is.  So let’s call it a Flying Rail Shooter.

The game progresses through missions.  When you start the game for the first time, you go through a scene and then into your first mission.  Once you complete that mission, you can replay it or go onto the next.  You then repeat this process until you’re done with the 30+ missions of the game.  It’s a pretty simple way to progress through a game.

When you go into a mission, you are put into a tunnel-like stage where you’re constantly flying through straight patches as well as turns and curves, fighting off enemies for a certain amount of length.  You’re armed with a machine gun with infinite ammo and missiles with limited ammo, so you must move around with your aim and do your best to fight off as many enemies as possible before you pass them.  You can choose not to, but that will give them more time to fire onto and damage your plane.

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Giant orbs that say XP.  Totally realistic.  

Aside from enemies, there are also obstacles and items laid out in each stage.  Obstacles are in the form of buildings and gates with laser traps.  Hit either of these and you’ll take damage, most likely causing your plane to catch fire.  Take too much damage and you’ll explode and fail the missions.  Items are in the form of Green and Blue orbs.  Collecting these will increase the amount of money and experience you are rewarded at the end of the mission.

The main goal is to reach the end of the stage, which is shown to you in your HUD in a distance gauge.  It slowly goes down until it hits 0 and you get to the end of the stage.  Here, the camera pans out and you play a mini-game to bomb the target of that mission.  The mini-game has a red X on the screen with a white circle slowly closing in on it.  Once it touches the X and the X glows, you tap X to drop the bomb.  If you press X too early or late, you fail the mission.

When you finish a mission, you’re awarded Experience Point towards leveling up your rank and money that you can use to buy new planes, plane upgrades, or weapon upgrades that affect all owned planes.  The amount of money that you’re given is relatively gracious, so there’s no sense of having to farm missions over and over and over again to get what you want.  I managed to buy one of the high-tier planes after playing only about 10 missions, along with weapon upgrades along the way.

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Not gonna lie.  I only wanted this because it looks like the F-22 Raptor

There are around 10 different planes you can purchase.  While weapons are the same between all planes (Gatlin Gun and Missiles), each plans has its own strengths and weaknesses in the form of handling, acceleration, top speed, and other parameters.  It is easily noticeable when you change from the default plane that doesn’t handle corners well to a top-tier plane that handles corners like nobody’s business.

Leveling Up to new ranks is another part of customization.  Leveling gives you a skill point and there are many tiers of skills that allow you to have an easier time when the missions get harder.  Some skills could simply increase the ease of flying or allow you to tilt the plane to avoid hitting buildings during quick turns.

Before we get to the difficulty and length, let’s talk about the stages.  In all reality, there aren’t very many different stages.  Much of the time, you’ll be playing the same two stages, only with different lighting and time-of-day settings.  The first 10 missions are comprised of a city stage and a canyon stage, just re-used with different lighting.  There’s not that much variety in environments you go through.  Just how difficult the enemies are.

Now, how difficult is this game?  It’s decently hard as the missions keep going, but it’s not going to make you throw your Vita across the room.  After Mission 10, the difficulty does go up, but so long as you do keep some money for purchasing better planes, it should be easy to adjust to.

Controls

First of all, the game is not compatible with the PlayStation TV.  However, when I inquired about it, the developer noted that he may add it in a future patch.  I can’t really fault him for not putting it in there from resources.  The developer of Delta Strike is a single person.  Just as I, alone, do everything on this site.  He worked on and made that game all by himself.  He deserves props for that.

The game uses the touch screen for a couple menus and these couple menus do not have button alternatives.  In missions, however, buttons are used.  The Left Analog Stick can be used to move your plane around and the Right Stick can be used as well as the triggers for tilting the plane.  The X button is only used in menus.  Square is used to fire off shots from the gatlin gun and Circle is used for missiles.

The control scheme isn’t bad.  Only thing I’ll say is that nothing is explained to you as you play the game.  You hit Start Game, and you’re in the first mission.  It’s one of those “Hit buttons to see what they do” kind of small games.  While this was semi-acceptable for PSM, it isn’t so much for a native title.

Presentation

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Two wings on fire and still going!  Just like me in GTA Online

Visually, the game doesn’t look bad.  It looks about the same as it did on PSM, so we’re talking about high-end PSP level graphics.  Everything looks smooth, so there aren’t any jagged edges or anything.  Whether that will be the same when the PSTV patch comes, I’m not sure.

One issue from the PSM release has been fixed.  On PSM, it took 20-30 seconds to launch a mission.  On the PS Vita, it only takes about 8 seconds.  That’s a pretty big improvement.  The other performance issue was some frame drops/lag in the middle of some missions, and that is still present.

Summary

Delta Strike is one of the few airplane games available on the Vita.  While it fixed the loading issue from its PSM release, this still suffers from being only a couple hours long, occasional frame drops, and a lack of variety in environments.  It is fun for airplane fans, but not a lot has changed since PSM. 

7/10

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