When examining many recent indie releases, it can be easy to pinpoint their influences, especially since so many proudly focus on them. The same is true of Strike Suit Zero, the first title from Born Ready Games. Following in the footsteps of classics such as the Star Wars: Rogue Squadron series, Strike Suit Zero is the studio’s attempt to revitalize (and redefine) the space combat genre. It’s a refreshing take on a well-worn formula, although it tends to ignore variety in favor of its particular brand of combat.
Strike Suit Zero’s plot follows a pilot with the U.N.E. (United Nations of Earth), an organization at war with a group known as the Colonists, who stumbles upon an abandoned research facility containing a mysterious A.I. and a new, advanced ship known as the Strike Suit. Once both the A.I. and the Strike Suit are introduced, the plot moves forward until the very end, at least not in a compelling way.
This is partly due to the fact that Strike Suit Zero frontloads the majority of its lore before you even begin the game, which alone is problematic. While it doles out some bits of information here and there throughout the main campaign, the overall narrative arc, including some late game twists, are never interesting enough to keep you involved. It’s a decent attempt at establishing a new sci-fi universe, but it does very little to promote exactly what makes it unique or worth paying attention to. In short, all you really need to know is to protect the good guys and shoot down the baddies.
Strike Suit Zero’s brand of space combat is snappy, controls fluidly and always provides you with new opportunities to test out your various weapons, many of which you’ll unlock depending on how well you perform during missions. Eventually, through natural progress, you’ll have a large and varied arsenal at your disposal. Each weapon has its own strengths and weaknesses depending on the mission at hand and you are given plenty of opportunities to try everyone of them out. If you’ve played any space combat game before, or even something along the lines of Ace Combat, you’ll feel right at home with this title.
The biggest differentiator is the Strike Suit itself, which can transform into a stronger, more maneuverable mech-like form. The standard combat is exciting on its own, but this is where the game really stands out from its contemporaries. It runs on a meter that drains based on how often you shoot and fills as you destroy enemies, allowing you to stay in this mode as long as you continue to blow up enough ships to keep it going. It’s a nice alternative to the standard ship combat, and offers a new approach and gives you a fast and powerful way to dispatch your foes. Not only that, but its speed and capabilities make it a necessity during some of the game’s later missions; learning to balance between the two modes is necessary when the challenge ramps up.
As a result of your powered-up ship, the game throws plenty of enemies your way to keep you busy. There is rarely a quiet moment in Strike Suit Zero. This is both enthralling, as the core mechanics are excellent and the enemies are just smart enough to make sure you don’t slack off, and tedious, as the game seriously lacks in variety. There is a decent selection of enemies to take down, but once you reach a certain point in the game, you simply face more of the same rather than a larger variety of different ships. Basically, the game throws more enemies at you to attempt to distract from the fact that the ships you are fighting are just more of the same.
The missions themselves never tend to vary from two core objectives: take out a specific group of enemies or protect your allies for a set amount of time. You usually end up doing both at the same time during a majority of the campaign. It feels like they designed the actual combat and Strike Suit first before considering there needed to be more to the game than shooting down multiple of the same ship types for four to five hours.
The game is just challenging enough to keep you engaged, thankfully, and you are ranked at the end of each mission based on how well you perform. You are also given side objectives that, when completed, unlock additional awards such as upgrades for the Strike Suit and new ships. That being said, the upgrades feel inconsequential and the other ships are only rarely necessary; why use a standard ship when you have access to the one that makes the game unique to begin with?
Truthfully, I had a lot of fun playing Strike Suit Zero: Director’s Cut, but so much of the game is feels inadequate when compared to similar titles. The Strike Suit itself is undeniably fun and the action will most likely satisfy those looking for a new space combat game, but it’s hard to get excited about the game’s lackluster mission design and half-baked sci-fi narrative. It’s simply a decent experience that you’ll most likely forget about shortly after the credits role.
Pros: Impressive space combat, the Strike Suit itself is fun to use
Cons: Dull story, mission and enemy variety is seriously lacking