Developer: Born Ready Games
Release Date: January 23rd, 2013 (Original release), April 8th, 2014 (Director’s cut)
Available on: PC, Playstation 4, Xbox One
Reviewer’s note: I have played the original Strike Suit Zero on the PC and the director’s cut on the Playstation 4. There were no notable differences between versions. Also, this review does not consider the Heroes of the Fleet DLC. That will get its own review.
When I was a kid one of my favorite games was Colony Wars. A Playstation space combat game that featured some of the most exciting space combat and game play at the time. Now Strike Suit Zero is presenting itself as a spiritual successor to Colony Wars. But does it manage to reach the same level of greatness that Colony Wars did?
Strike Suit Zero opens up with the explanation of how man came to figure out space travel and how one day they found a mysterious artifact on a moon that ended up kickstarting a war between two factions: the United Nations of Earth and the outer colonies. You play as Adams: a U.N.E pilot who is just recovering from some downtime where he was found staring at walls unresponsive. When the outer colonies show off a new alien weapon that wipes out the majority of the U.N.E’s fleet they must turn to an abandoned AI named Control to win the war. That’s really about the gist of the plot, which isn’t very interesting. The characters are pretty much talking heads to brief you on your missions and you’ll spend the majority of the game pretty much just getting back to Earth so you can save it. There’s not much worth noting here and it is not the game’s strong suit at all.
Early in the game you get the Strike Suit, and this is what will go on to pretty much define the game. When you’re in pursuit mode the Strike Suit functions as a regular fighter: it’s agile and well balanced. You can use a variety of weapons from it including missiles, rail guns, plasma shots, and a machine gun. Each has their own use and are built to be good against specific targets. It’s all very slick and well done. Every fight feels and looks intense and it’s a goes a long way towards making a more fast-paced space combat game than most games do. More importantly though, there’s your flux meter. Each kill raises the flux meter and at any point you can use it to switch the Strike Suit into strike mode. In strike mode you become a mech with unlimited ammo, only losing flux meter. You’ll be armed with two impressively destructive cannons and the visually awesome swarm missiles. Using these tools you can wipe out tons of enemy fighters, making you feel like the most impressive and destructive thing on the battlefield. It’s a wonderful feeling and any time you get to it you really feel empowered.
The game is split into 13 missions that are mostly about 30 – 45 minutes in length. I kind of wish there was more variety in the missions though. Nearly every one can be broken down to some form of “protect a capital ship” or “destroy a capital ship”. Sometimes you may also just have to destroy enemy fighters. The game never really seems to want to spread its wings here, and that’s the biggest part where it suffers. It’s still good fun at times: the rush of combat is a great motivating factor to keep you playing. It just sucks that there’s not much else to do. Each mission comes with a bonus objective which is usually some form of destroying all of a specific type of enemy, or keeping the protected target’s health above a certain percent. Completing this objective unlocks special passive boosts for your Strike Suit, like better shields or slower flux consumption. I’ll be honest, even when I unlocked these boosts I barely even noticed their effect.
The game also suffers from a lack of replayability. If you want you can replay levels to get higher scores and medals. If you get enough of the gold medals then you can unlock a new ending. But outside of this there’s little else to do with the game. The game could really have used extra modes beside its campaign, as it would have gone a long way to helping keep people around.
The director’s cut doesn’t make any super noticeable changes to the game if you’ve played it already. Apparently the graphics have been improved, but I honestly didn’t notice the difference and would probably need side-by-side comparison screen shots to do so. The main campaign has apparently been reworked and updated, but the only differences I noticed were more lines of dialogue that explained a couple of plot points that were left kind of vague in the original. The director’s cut does come with the short but super sweet Heroes of the Fleet DLC which will be getting its own review. Finally there were two new strike suits. One comes equipped with a shotgun and swarm missiles, while the other has a long ranged cannon and torpedoes. Both will change how you use the strike suit and in what situations, but neither are exactly game defining changes. Just nice bonuses to have.
Fans of arcadey space fighters should look into Strike Suit Zero. It’s not quite the follow up to Colony Wars that I was hoping for, but the fast paced game play and fun combat may be enjoyable to some people.