In the 1990s and early 2000s, one of the more popular genres in gaming was the space combat simulator. Titles such as Colony Wars, Star Wars: Rogue Squadron and Freespace achieved much critical and commercial success. By the end of the last decade, though, the genre had been relegated to relative obscurity, with few new titles coming out. One of those was Born Ready Games’ Strike Suit Zero, which was originally released for the PC in January 2013, but is now available for the Xbox One and PlayStation 4. Inspired by both classic space combat games and essential anime series like Macross and Gundam, Strike Suit Zero looks to bring a classic genre back into prominence.
Taking place in the year 2299, Strike Suit Zero places you into the role of Adams, a pilot who is just getting back into action following an unspecified incident. While in the middle of a brief training session, Adams and his superior are thrown into a mission to guide an Earth transport to a local station. While at the station, Adams is able to get his hands on the Strike Suit, a revolutionary new piece of technology. This can’t come soon enough, as a rogue group of colonists has acquired a deadly new weapon and intend on using it to destroy Earth.
Comprised of 13 main missions and the optional Heroes Of The Fleet DLC content, Strike Suit Zero never really has enough time to develop its story. None of the characters are fleshed out enough and they basically fulfill every stereotypical soldier persona you can think of. There’s the loose cannon commander, the soldier who is out to avenge her squad and the consummate professional who always follows the rules. If you can think of a stereotype, there’s a good chance it pops up during the campaign. It also doesn’t help that Adams is a mute protagonist. A game like Half-Life can pull off having a mute hero because the rest of the narrative is strong enough to support it, but Strike Suit Zero‘s flimsy, barely there plot cannot do the same.
The big hook for Strike Suit Zero is the ability to control the Strike Suit, which is a ship that can turn into a large mech, similar to the types you would see in Gundam or Macross. While playing as a large space mech is obviously what everyone wants to do, Adams has to have enough Flux in his ship in order to do so. Flux can be built up by destroying enemy ships and fulfilling mission objectives, so you will have to be comfortable in both forms of the Strike Suit in order to complete your mission.
If you have played a space combat simulator before, you will probably be able to dive right into Strike Suit Zero‘s intuitive controls. There are a few ships to choose from, although I imagine most will stick with the Strike Suit, and each ship can hold a variety of bullets and missiles, which are mapped to the shoulder buttons for easy use. Born Ready Games had to make sure this was easy enough to do as there is a lot of shooting to be done here. In fact, that is pretty much all you do, as most missions follow the simple pattern of “Protect X by Destroying Y.” For the most part this isn’t really an issue, as the game remains enjoyable enough to keep players insterested, despite its lack of variety. However, by the end of the main campaign, I found myself not only bored with the title, but also annoyed due to the finicky aiming system that had a tendency to lock onto debris more often than the turrets that were pummeling me.
Outside of the aiming issues, though, the controls for Strike Suit Zero are generally smooth. Movement in either the ship or mech form of the Strike Suit never felt awkward or clunky and, once you get the timing down for switching between the two modes, it’s incredibly fun. Weaving in and out of massive enemy hordes is exhilarating and one of the many reasons that I miss the glory days of the space combat genre.
Since this is the Director’s Cut of Strike Suit Zero, Born Ready Games has added and improved several things, most notably the graphics. The Strike Suit itself looks great and the settings are eye catching and do a solid job of making you feel like you are out in the open world of space. Less impressive were the enemy ships, however, but since you rarely get the opportunity to look at them up close, it’s hardly a deal breaker. Bear in mind that this is a port of a PC game that was made possible through Kickstarter, so it doesn’t look as good as titles built from the ground up for the PlayStation 4 or Xbox One.
Properly rating Strike Suit Zero: Director’s Cut is a little frustrating, as the game has solid mechanics and is generally fun to play, but a host of smaller issues hold it back. The story is generic and easily disposable, and the frustrating aiming system threatens to ruin the game entirely at times. However, if you are looking for a solid throwback to the vintage days of the space combat sim genre, it’s hard to go wrong with Born Ready Games’ solid adventure.
This review is based off the PlayStation 4 version of the title, which we were provided with.
Despite a lackluster story and frustrating aiming mechanics, Strike Suit Zero: Director's Cut is a solid throwback to a long-neglected genre.