I’ve never really been a fan of space combat games, unless you count Star Wars Battlefront, which does feature a couple of space battles. But other than that, there’s just something that doesn’t really appeal to me about fighting in a massive vacuum that is space. Sure they can fill it with ruined ships and a bunch of enemy ships trying to kill you, but it doesn’t change the fact that the back drop used is just darkness with the odd occasional passing star or planet. It’s also a genre which is in decline, so does Strike Suit Zero conquer it?
Strike Suit Zero originally began life as a Kickstarter project, so it’s probably quite surprising that it has even released when you consider so many projects get the backing they need and then fail to materialise into the vision that was initially set. The studio behind it, Born Ready are one of few developers left working on this genre, which has certainly been in decline for the past couple of years, probably for the reasons stated above.
You play the role of a pilot called Adams, who is suffering from amnesia and stuck right in the middle of a civil war between Earth and its colonies. There are several cut-scenes to help explain the back story to all of this, but the majority of the time these serve very little purpose other than to send you to sleep and you’ll probably attempt to skip them all. When a cut-scene makes you want to skip past it, then you know it lacks life and is pretty bland to say the least.
The story itself is told through various missions, which usually involve killing a bunch of enemy space ships, before moving on. Admittedly the game lacks any real objective other than blasting a hole in enemy ships or escorting an allied ship through space, as there’s not much variation between mission objectives. All in all, there are 18 story missions and then additional missions in the ‘Heroes of the Fleet’ section. Also, there isn’t really much of a challenge offered to players other than the particular hard to configure controls at the start, which do take a while to get used to, but other than that the mission difficulty rarely picks up.
It’s a shame really because there is so much potential with this genre as there’s very little competition, so it would be very easy for a developer to make a potential hit space shooter. Strike Suit Zero’s monotonous gameplay however, is what lets the title down largely.
As you progress you’ll gain a resource called Flux, which you can use to upgrade your ship from the basic fighter you start off with to something a little more spectacular with lasers and armour shielding. The system is pretty basic however, and lacks any real encouragement to go the extra mile and attempt to kill every enemy. Sure, you get a nice gruesome looking upgraded ship, but it doesn’t change the fact that you’ve probably wasted a few hours shooting at enemies just to unlock it.
With any space shooter, there are a number of manoeuvres the player has to quickly learn, which are taught through a mission as a tutorial. One of the most important is the use of pitching and rolling in order to evade enemy attacks and to find a way to flank them by getting up right behind them and ripping a hole in their rear hull. The AI are fairly basic though, and do very little to offer you a challenge if you’re looking for a more hardcore difficulty to tackle. The only way that the game challenges players is through its lack of checkpoints throughout levels, which means when you die you have to go back through like ten minutes of gameplay just to get back where you were, which doesn’t feel rewarding at all, but frustrating instead.
One of the most enjoyable moments in the game comes through the Strike Suit’s mech mode, which offers a range of weapons including an extremely powerful missile system, in return providing a deadly blast to to enemy units in one hit. The key element to Strike Suit Zero is that you’ll build up your flux to take down bigger enemy ships using this mech mode and then transform back into the small ship to build up Flux once again. It becomes a laborious task after an hour of gameplay, so don’t expect to be immersed with the game for long. It’s one of those titles you’ll dip in and out of for like an hour until you complete it. After that, you’ll never return to it again.
In terms of graphics, the game does very little to provide what I would called next-gen visuals, but it does the job and the game does run smoothly on the Xbox One, so that’s at least one positive from the experience. The textures of ships are pretty low res, which is surprising, so surprising in fact, that I thought the game had just bugged out and forgot to load them in. The music is very fitting for the game too and I would even go as far as saying it’s one of the best things about it. The futuristic techno music combined with an epic space battle really works wonders in enhancing the gameplay experience, it’s just disappointing that the gameplay doesn’t match the well chosen soundtrack.
Overall, it is the gameplay mechanics which let down Strike Suit Zero: Director’s Cut. A lack of checkpoints and a rinse and repeat job on mission objectives makes it become quite a task working through all the missions offered and you’ll most likely stop playing it before even reaching the end. The music was a stand out feature that’s for sure, but its graphics didn’t stand out enough to define next generation gaming, so it’s an average space shooter at best. Not good for fans of the genre, who were expecting something a little more to a higher standard, but this was a Kickstarter project.
- The mech mode is pretty awesome
- Great music choice
- Poor visuals on ships
- Repetitive gameplay
- Lack of checkpoints