"While it does bring some interesting ideas into the space shooter arena, it does come with a number of drawbacks that will likely fail to impress gamers outside of the diehard target audience."
The space shooter genre—once flush with quality franchises such as Colony Wars, Wing Commander, and the various Star Wars: Tie Fighter and Rogue Squadron games—has long since faded from most gaming store shelves. Strike Suit Zero: Director’s Cut, originally released for PCs last year by Born Ready Games and funded by a Kickstarter campaign, seeks to fill the void that joystick jockeys have felt for years now, and while it does bring some interesting ideas into the space shooter arena, it does come with a number of drawbacks that will likely fail to impress gamers outside of the diehard target audience.
Players take on the role of Adams, a mute fighter pilot serving alongside the last remaining forces of Earth in the year 2299 against a colonial force seeking to control an ancient alien technology. The story is told exclusively over radio chatter during the campaign, which means players are either too busy fighting off the hordes of enemy forces on the screen to follow the plot, or they are forced to drift quietly in space with nothing to do but hear an essential story beat. As a result, players never feel fully invested in the game’s tale, even though the voice acting and writing exhibited levels of nuance that may have been more captivating had it been delivered with a little more style.
"The game’s controls do not have the option to map your own controller, meaning that I had to get by with one of the three predetermined schemes."
Luckily, elements of style within the games visuals and audio do allow it to shine in other ways. Beautiful images of imploding planets make as exciting backdrops to your dogfights, and each opponent you take out explodes with a satisfying rumble. I find myself less inspired by the game’s soundtrack, as the dream-like ambient music and Japanese vocals seem so out-of-sync with the action onscreen that it can be distracting at times.
The game’s controls do not have the option to map your own controller, meaning that I had to get by with one of the three predetermined schemes. After some getting used to, I was able to navigate with some degree of proficiency, but I never felt as confident during tight strafing runs on enemy capital ships as I felt I might have been otherwise. Furthermore, there are no single-button presses for barrel rolls or 180 degree turns, forcing players to swing wide to track enemy movements or release an EMP blast to evade a missile lock. While not necessarily a drawback in and of itself, moments like these do feel like a missed opportunity to add some visual flair to the dogfights.
What the game does offer is an opportunity to transform your fighter into a bipedal mech during combat. Doing so increases your available firepower, but seriously limits your mobility. Nevertheless, switching into Strike Mode, locking on to several opponents on once and then unleashing a torrent of swarm misses is the game’s most satisfying moment. Watching the “Target Destroyed” message as opponents explode by the handful always brings a smile to my face.
"As you progress in the game, the dogfighting soon becomes stale, and there is little else to do."
Unfortunately, the game suffers from serious pacing issues. First, there are no power-ups or restocking stations during the campaign, meaning that players are forced to ration their ammunition from the start. This is very frustrating during the games many long (and often, quite difficult) levels, as having to rely on my cannons to destroy the last remaining opponents became tedious at best. And although the long missions do have many checkpoints allowing you to restart, once you cross one of those thresholds with no ammunition, you are fated to respawn in the same emaciated condition.
As you progress in the game, the dogfighting soon becomes stale, and there is little else to do. Most of the game’s campaign are escort missions where you are responsible for fighting off waves of fighters before they destroy your own capital ships. This structure wears thin very soon, and none of the other missions offer any sort of reprieve. At the Strike Suite Zero’s lowest points, I found myself tracking down incoming torpedoes for waves at a time, or even worse, operating a vessel that fired off slow-moving torpedoes of its own as I watched a distant target’s life bar slowly fall away in tiny chunks.
"As a downloadable title, the 20 dollar price point should be enough to lure fans of the space shooter genre, and there is much for them to enjoy."
The game comes loaded on consoles with the Heroes of the Fleet DLC, which gives players the chance to reenact other famous battles from the game’s lore, and while it is nice to have an occasional reprieve from the blandly-delivered story, you will find yourself going through the same basic mission types there, as well. There are plenty of ship and weapon upgrades to unlock and an online Leaderboard to keep players busy after the credits roll, but due to monotonous gameplay, I doubt anyone beyond the most dedicated fans will give try to pad the journey available. As a downloadable title, the 20 dollar price point should be enough to lure fans of the space shooter genre, and there is much for them to enjoy. Overall, though, the game’s frustrating design choices make it a game that is not recommended for casual audiences.
Review by: Nick Walge | Reviewed on: Playstation 4