Strike Suit Zero: Director’s Cut review written by Marc H.
Estimated reading time: 6 minutes
I should preface this by saying that Gundam Wing was one of the first anime titles that I watched, beginning to end, 100%. The space opera dogfights, the streaks of energy weapons through the air, the gratuitous explosions, every last bit of it. Strike Suit Zero accurately and repeatedly plucks that chord within the nostalgia center of my heart, right down to the fighter jet style spaceship that can transform into a bipedal standing tank (or mech) of untold levels of destruction.
This title is a lot more polish than I tend to expect from most independent studios, and while the story itself fails to espouse itself as anything remotely close to revolutionary, the tried and true is what it is for a reason. This game is going to have to be docked a couple of points for not being a bit more experimental, something that indie games are typically known for, but that will not ruin this game overall, so much as keep it from becoming a game-changer.
Graphics – 8:
For an indie studio, the graphics on this title are stellar. No, they cannot hope to compare with some of the major space fighter titles out there, but this title really shines in the areas that count. The weapons are flashy and fantastical, everything is name after a sci-fi convention that, while not strictly graphical, does add to the visual element as one reads through the descriptions of their weaponry loadouts. The eponymous strike suit feels a little too angular and polygonal, and while that is perhaps the point, as the sharper edges lend it a bit more of a menacing feel, it also presents like an early PlayStation character model in a late PlayStation game.
Sound & Music – 9:
From the chanting voices in the background that tell of something dark and ominous lurking just beneath the surface all the way to the explosions of your missiles striking a target, leaving them a swiftly dissipating ball of flames hurtling through space, the aural presentation offered by this title had me hooked. Whether it was playing with the sound cranked on my television or with headphones plugged into the PS4 controller, I oft found myself turning the levels up instead of down. This game definitely benefits from some surround sound headphones with some bass, and you would be doing yourself a disservice to not play this game in a dark room while doing so.
Gameplay – 7:
The enemy’s gate is down! No, really though, it was at first entirely jarring to not only be able to turn my ship at any angle, but to also be able to rotate it! I was having a hard time keeping up with all of the ships, managing thrust, brakes and boost, swapping between weapon types and linked firing modes, toggling between the ship’s two operating modes, locking on with two different types of weapons and generally trying not to win half of my fights by screaming “Ramming Speed!” and then running into them. After two hours, I gave up, walked away, went to sleep. The next time I picked the game up, after having slept on it, my brain seemed to have adjusted to the new concepts that had been presented to it and I found the entire experience to be much more enjoyable.
Intangibles – 4:
This game is exceedingly short. With only thirteen missions to the campaign, plus an additional five ‘bonus’ missions that take place outside of the main story, this is a title that, were there no learning curve, I would have finished in an evening. Like a good book you just cannot bring yourself to put down, this will be done before you know what happened… and it won’t be entirely due to losing track of time.
The challenges in each mission are an amusing spin on some levels, like using the bomber to kill a certain number of fighters or managing to take on and win against a massively powerful carrier that mopped the floor with me the first 10 times I tried, stubbornly, to beat it. Some of these challenges require you to revisit levels once you have unlocked more powerful armaments or vessels, but outside of this, I just cannot see a full replay of the story ever being desirable.
Overall – 7:
Strike Suit Zero is analogous to an aged cheddar, in that the more you have of this, the more you will enjoy it, but similarly to the swiftly aging cheese, it just cannot hold up to much more time before it becomes an unappealing self-inflicted torture tool. The difficulty levels are varied and add a genuine challenge to the game within the upper echelons, while the easier difficulty will let you play through the game and blow things up with little to no concern for personal safety. Fun, but entirely too short, with next to no replay incentive, this is a weekend romp through space that will put you back $20 but not leave you feeling cheated. There are a few things to unlock in the game, which appear to be permanent upgrades to all of your ships for the challenges, but I failed to notice much of a difference with or without. There is no way to turn the upgrades off to give yourself a higher challenge, though, so perhaps those that wish to challenge themselves should be grateful that they are not as pronounced as they could be.
Try this game if you like space combat, you should not be disappointed.
Review by Marc
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