Strike Suit Zero is blast from the past for gamers who grew up on the space combat genre made famous by such games as Wing Commander and X-Wing vs Tie Fighter. Developed by Born Ready Games, you pilot a craft capable of transforming into a mech while destroying anyone who dares fly in your path. How cool is that?!
Conceptually, Strike Suit Zero is a melding of the East and West with Junji Okubu (Infinite Space, Steel Battalion, and AppleSeed) providing mechanical designs, music from Paul Ruskay (Homeworld) and a main theme created by Japanese singer/songwriter Kokia (Tales of Innocence, Gunslinger Girl: II Teatrino).
In Strike Suit Zero you play a disgraced United Nations of Earth (U.N.E) pilot named Adams who is trying to get back into the life by being reinstated. Everything is going well until Earth’s fleet is decimated by Colonial forces. In order to protect Earth from the Colonies, Adams will jump into the cockpit of a new experimental craft called the Strike Suit and use it to save Earth from a Colonial super-weapon capable of destroying worlds. We have heard this all before, but it does make a perfect backdrop if you are reintroducing the genre to a new generation of gamers.
Before every mission you can pick the ship you want to pilot and outfit it with new weapons and upgrades. In the first few missions you are piloting a fast and capable spacecraft until you are asked to don the Strike Suit Zero.
The key to survival is paying attention to everything that is going on around you. You will be flooded with a vast amount of targeting reticules, enemy fighters trying to shoot you out of space, gigantic frigates and enemy freighters, and incoming missiles and laser fire while being instructed to your next objective. This is the core of what makes space combat so much fun, and is also the reason for your next heart attack or rage-induced bashing of your keyboard.
Escort missions will have you protecting a huge but vulnerable structure in space just asking anything with a laser cannon to destroy it. These missions are particularly difficulty because you have to be everywhere at once. You would assume that having you allies buzzing around and congratulating you on kills meant the odds are now even. Sorry, but it doesn’t. You will have to do everything by yourself, and because of that Strike Suit Zero sometimes can feel like a glorified Raiden or Gladius as you take on enemy fleets with just one ship.
Strike Mode provides more firepower and mobility, and you can keep up the form as long as you can keep building up your energy bar (Flux) by destroying enemies and space debris. However, Strike Mode has its limits. The range of you cannons are to be desired, leaving you uncomfortably close to the incoming fire of the larger targets you will have to destroy throughout the game. You can dash in different directions to avoid being hit but you can’t keep moving in a particular direction. It would have been cool if you could maneuver at a decent speed with controls similar to Zone of the Enders. Because of this limited interpretation of mech combat, Strike Mode can be also mean “Sitting Suck” Mode.
The checkpoint system could also be a little more generous, but I was thankful that a game with this much difficulty has checkpoints in the first place. The overall difficulty of the game I found to be pretty inconsistent, especially in such cases when normal dog-fighting turned into an escort mission or being tasked to destroy specific weapons on enemy frigates. I literally rolled my eyes on more than one occasion in annoyance when frigates, and the deadly framerate issues, unexpectedly folded into combat.
Overall, Strike Suit Zero is challenging and will test your patience. It is a game that reminded me of my gaming roots when i was a teenager playing Wing Commander, and I was glad to make that trip back in time. I immensely enjoyed the ship designs by Junji Okubu and how Strike Suit Zero brings the look and feel of deep space into your desktop. The gameplay is very satisfying and rewarding when you are sending enemy pilots to their doom, and hopefully a sequel is announced that will address gameplay issues.
Until then, prepare yourself for a frustratingly good time!
Strike Suit Zero
Developer: Born Ready Games
Publisher: Born Ready Games
Released: January 23, 2013