Born Ready Games
Strike Suit Zero barely misses perfection due to difficulty spikes, lack of checkpoints
Strike Suit Zero
Strike Suit Zero is just about everything you want in a space combat game. You’re going to want to hold onto your ass iIf you’ve missed the action of games like Colony Wars and Wing Commander, because SSZ does a great job of re-creating what made those games so brilliant while updating the formula for modern gamers.
The rhythm of the game is impeccable, as you’ll need to snap between weapons for different situations, balance attacking larger ships while keeping fighters off your back, while also trying to fulfill each mission’s secondary objective to unlock upgrades to your ship. The game handles the balance of chaos and bliss very well, and the music is moody and atmospheric.
So what went wrong?
He’s changing targets
Strike Suit Zero is a colorful game, and it shows you amazing things during your travels in space. Some levels are bright red, due to your proximity to a star. Others are a milky blue as you fly though interference that shorts out your missile system. It almost looks like you’re in the middle of a foggy space battle, which sounds odd in print but looks wonderful in practice.
It can be tricky to make a game set in space where each level has its own look and feel, but Born Ready Games had no problems creating a number of distinct and enjoyable environments.
The issue is that the missions are both long and unforgiving. Each of the game’s 13 missions is broken into several parts, and there is no way to repair damage that you take when an enemy depletes your shield completely. The shields recharge if you can fly away and not take damage for a bit, but your ship does not.
If you die, and you will certainly die many times, the game will often send you a few major battles backwards in the game, forcing you to replay large swaths over and over until you master the section that’s giving you problems.
I fell in love with the game’s sense of speed and action, but every time I walked away from it was in response to dying and having to replay an enormous chunk of the level. I’ve been told that the checkpoint system will be adjusted very soon after launch, and that’s going to go a long way to fixing this problem. For now though, prepare for frustration.
Don’t let that scare you away
This game is going to be close to perfect once the checkpoint since is fixed, and genre fans are going to fall in love very quickly. Flying around an enormous space station and taking out its giant satellite dishes while your wing men and women attack the fighters trying to take you out is an amazing feeling.
Stripping a capital ship of its turrets so that it’s defenseless against your attacks is just as cool as you’d think. The sky is always filled with things to see and do; the pace is always fast and you’re nearly always in a target-rich environment.
The missions with the Strike Suit itself, which allows you to shift from a traditional space ship into a humanoid Mech, are particularly fun. You have strong weapons in Mech mode, and you can side-step missiles and enemy fire with ease, but you’re also barely moving. This makes you a target. The best move is to shift forms, unload onto whatever unlucky thing is in front of you, and then shift back to fly away. Doing this in one smooth motion fills the screen with missiles and light, and it looks beautiful.
You’ll also want to pay attention to where you are, although it can be tricky. Leaving the mission area leads to an insta-death, and it can be hard to know exactly where the level ends. It’s also easy to wander into an area with a flak cannon as you fight a wave of interceptors, or dog fight too close to a larger ship and have its turrets cut you to ribbons. Make sure you attack the other ships alongside the computer-controlled allies, or they will simply all converge on your location and take you out.
The game is hard, but it’s an appropriate difficulty most of the time. Just be aware that some sections are easy, and then you’ll find yourself in a desperate situation praying your shields begin to recharge. This isn’t a big deal, but again the lack of checkpoints can make death an annoying affair. There are no quick-saves.
As a whole, this is near-constant fan service for people who watched Battlestar Galactica and said “I want to do that.” The story can be a little hard to follow, but the voice acting is handled better than expected, and most people are going to be playing for the “pew pew” anyway. It’s rare a game makes me this happy, or reminds me of how a genre has been so woefully under-served.
I hope Strike Suit Zero sells a million copies, is ported to everyone’s console, and we get ten sequels. If you can watch the launch trailer and not get excited… you’re a better person than I am. The game is on sale right now for $15.99, but I’d suggest springing the $19.99 for the Steam bundle with the soundtrack. Go blow shit up!