After a Kickstarter campaign and a roll out on PC in early 2013, Born Ready Games brings the Directors Cut version of Strike Suit Zero to next gen consoles. And it was worth the wait.
The new additions are nice to have – new graphics, voices over and a rejigged campaign – but it’s the slick gameplay which remains the best part of the Strike Suit Zero experience. Players jump into the cockpit of a futuristic fighter called Adams, on the way to an interstellar war between the United Nations of Earth and their outlying colonies.
Things go pretty badly from the off, especially when a superweapon is unveiled and found to be heading for Earth. But that’s before you meet up with an advanced A.I. called control and get your first glimpse of the power of the Strike suit.
You’ll start out in a regular space ship here, cruising and boosting and targeting missiles and lasers in a genre familiar way. And this element is enjoyable enough, if hardly bringing anything new to the table. But once you’ve gained the ability, a quick tap of X will transform you instantly into the Strike suit mode.
And this is a game changer. Capable of strafing movements and delivering massive amounts of firepower, the Strike Suit is a nifty weapons platform and absolutely deadly in up close dogfighting, especially with its tight turning circle and powerful attacks. But it can only be used for short amounts of time and is slow to travel large distances, meaning you’ll have to swap back and forth between the two modes.
It sounds like a small enough addition to the space combat genre but its more than enough to keep Strike Suit Zero feeling fresh and gives the gameplay an immediacy which lengthy careening dogfights can lack. Across the 13 story missions, you’ll tackle a broad (if familiar) range of scenarios and a handful of different enemy craft but it was more than enough to keep me entertained.
Personally, the game reminded me of a mix between Freespace and Homeworld. The fighting mechanics are a little more streamlined than Volitions might sim but the pace feels similar, though SSZ lacks its incredible detail and scale. The graphics are quite simple and almost stylised, looking quite like the Homeworld models up close. And it doesn’t hurt that Homeworld composer Paul Ruskay lends some tuneage.
If I’m being nitpicky, the voice work isn’t always the best and the story never really manages to present anything original but there’s serious ambition here from a tiny team working with a miniscule budget and the fact that they managed to pull off something slick, bug free and entertaining to play is reason enough to give them high praise.