Delta Strike: First Assault Review

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Title: Delta Strike – First Assault
Developer: Cerberus
Game Type: PlayStation Mobile
Download:  184 MB
NA Availability: 
Digital Download
EU Availability: Digital Download
PSTV Support: No

There are a few genres out there that the PS Vita doesn’t have much of.  Horror comes to mind, for sure.  Outside of PSP and PS1 titles, the Vita doesn’t have many horror games to play.  The Silent Hill PS Vita game is a dungeon crawler rather than horror, though there are a few horror-oriented Indie games out there to be played.  This is among other genres that don’t have many games on the Vita so far.  As we look through those genres, let’s take a look at one of the scarcest genres, air combat.

When you think about air combat, you can think of planes.  On the PS Vita, there aren’t a lot of Air Combat games releasing.  We have recently reviewed one game for the Vita of the genre, which was a backwards compatible title.  That game was Ace Combat: Joint Assault.  That is definitely a good game, but what else is there for Vita fans to play, in regards to air combat?  There isn’t a lot out there, but there is if you look towards the PlayStation Mobile library.

Thanks to many developers reaching out and release games on both Mobile and PlayStation Mobile, there are more options for Vita owners for various genres.  Air Combat, specifically, joined the PS Mobile library just a couple weeks ago with a new game that also released on iOS and Android.  With many different planes and some fair customization, here is our official review of the PS Mobile title, Delta Strike: First Assault!

Story

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Unlike most PlayStation Mobile titles, Delta Strike does have a storyline attached to it.  While it’s nothing super-deep, it’s enough to keep you going and interested as you play through the game.  You are a new pilot for Raven Squadron.  As you come out of the Flight Academy, you are thrown into the world, where a new terrorist organization called PAIN is attacking your country and performing secret experiments.  It is your job to put their plans to an end as you go through various types of missions against them.

As you play through the game, you find little tidbits of story information before each mission.  This can be about yourself, the General giving you orders, or learning about the PAIN organization.  All of these tidbits are small and there’s never much deep characterization involved.  But, it is something to keep you interested as you play.  It’s much more story than many PS Mobile titles give to you as you play through them.

Gameplay

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At its simplest, Delta Strike could be classified as a mission-based Arcade-style flight combat game.  As you play through each mission, you will be in a point-to-point 3D environment, gunning down enemies and working your way towards the checkpoint at the end of the stage.  This is very different from Ace Combat, though the basic premise and system is similar to many other flight combat or air combat games.

At the beginning of each mission, you will be able to choose your plane as well as do customization before you see the briefing and head out for the next story mission.  Once you’re out on a mission, though, you will be flung into a 3D environment that has a tunnel-like area.  You won’t have complete free roam around gigantic environments like you do in games like Ace Combat.  This is almost an on-rails game, as you are moving in a straight line and sometimes curves and turns as you go from Point A to Point B and deliver the final blow to the enemy to finish the stage.  Imagine it like some cross between a racing game and a flight simulator.

As you play through each stage, you will be focusing on attacking and destroying targets with a machine gun and missiles equipped to your aircraft, which will remain the same no matter which aircraft you are using.  While playing, you will have many different targets that come up, like trucks, tanks, and helicopters that you will automatically lock onto.  There are others as well, like terrorists firing AA guns at you from rooftops and from the ground which you cannot target.  The goal is to reach the end without getting hit enough to crash.  Taking damage will light you on fire, so be sure to always go to an open fire hydrant water spring as soon as you see one to put the fire out.

No matter what kind of mission your briefing says you’re doing, you will always be taking out targets in the missions.  The missions always end in the same way.  When you reach your destination checkpoint at the end of the stage, you will have a certain amount of time to press a button to drop a bomb on your target enemy.

Ending a mission, be it failing or succeeding, will reward you in Experience Points and Money.  These can both be used for customization.  Earn enough experience and you’ll level up and get skill points.  This can be used to learn new abilities like doing barrel rolls to avoid enemy fire or activating stealth to pass through enemies and walls for a short time.  Money, in turn, can be used to buy and customize any of the 16 aircraft available in the game, be it increasing the speed, handling, missile capacity, or something else.  There’s a fair amount of customization that is available to do.

One thing to note is that the game does have Micro-Transactions built into it.  If you don’t want to repeat missions to build up money, you can buy money from the PlayStation Network to be used for new planes and upgrades.  These transactions can be as cheap as a single dollar or as expensive as $14.00, depending on how much you want.  None of these are required, though, as once you get further in the game, experience and money build up pretty fast.  But the option is there if you want to throw a dollar to Sony to get some extra in-game money.

While there are more than 30 missions to complete in the game, each mission should only take you a minute or two to complete.  Accounting for failing and learning various systems, it shouldn’t take you more than a few hours to complete the game, and more time if you want to grind in some missions to max out your customization options.  All in all, though, it’s a fun little game while it lasts.

Controls

Controlling the game isn’t very hard, though it does have a couple unfortunate things built into it.  First and foremost, some of the menus can only be navigated via the touch screen.  Because of this, the game is not playable on the PlayStation TV.  These controls aren’t hard to get through, but you won’t be able to play it on the PSTV to display on your HDTV.

Most of the game’s controls are handled by the buttons on the system, though you have some touch screen options during missions.  Moving your plane is always done with the Left Analog Stick.  You can also move by tilting and spinning with the L and R buttons, unlockable after you start playing the game.  Also unlockable is the D-Pad’s ability to active certain enhancements, like stealth.  The rest of the game is handled by the face buttons, utilizing the X Button to fire your Machine Gun, and the Circle button to fire missiles.  These two also have on-screen touch buttons you can use.

For the most part, the control scheme is very easy to get a handle on.  There aren’t that many controls to learn, though it is a downer that you can’t play the game on the PSTV.

Presentation

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This is the make-or-break section of any and every PlayStation Mobile game.  PSM is like the indie market, but even lower on the budget scale.  Many of these games have been developed by a whole one person.  Cerberus has released Delta Strike on three systems, and this is definitely part of the game that gives it some credit, but also brings it down.

Visually, the game looks good.  The 3D environments look smooth and crisp, and I would say those visuals are on the level of the more decent PSP games.  The aircrafts are detailed, and there aren’t a lot of jagged edges to be seen.  It could be compared to the amount of detail in Ace Combat: Joint Assault, but with much smaller areas.

The performance is the big kicker for the game.  Loading a mission takes a good 15-20 seconds each time you want to go to a mission and transitioning from screen to screen in menus and missions has some fair lag and slowdown between them.  Missions play decent, for the most part.  However, there will be some sections, where the frames will drop for several seconds at a time, showing a lot of lag and slowdown.  It’s not enough to make the game unplayable and doesn’t happen very often, but it happens enough to get on your nerves, especially in some of the more frantic missions.

 

Summary

Delta Strike: First Assault is a way for Vita gamers to have some quick pick-up-and-play air combat action.  On the downside, there are some performance issues to be worked out by the developer and the game doesn’t last long.  However, for air combat fans, the game is good for short bursts.  Tied with the skill and upgrade system, this is one of the more extensive PS Mobile games of late and is worth the purchase.

7/10

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