Strike Suit Zero offers quite the mixed package. It is a blend of blunders and satisfying moments, often leading to times where the game is thoroughly enjoyably, but then leads to moments of utter dullness. Thankfully, there is enough amusement in the gameplay to supplement the numerous sub-par elements.
Strike Suit Zero is a space flight combat game, that has the feel of both a simulation and an arcade shooter, reminiscent of many titles spanning the sci-fi genre, especially Star Wars and Gundam. The similarities are eminent throughout so much so that the story suffers from it.
You play as the faceless pilot Adams, who is on a routine mission to prove he’s worthy of flying again after disgracing himself. While proving his worth, the earth’s fleet is attacked by Colonial forces, leaving only a small amount of star fighters and capital ships remaining. Upon acquiring the Strike Suit, a highly powerful ship capable of transforming into a mech-like machine loaded with a hugely destructive weapons and quick lock on system, you are now humanity’s last hope at defeating the Colonial forces attacking Earth, who plan to destroy it with a new super-weapon.
It’s a very tired story full predictable plot points, very clichéd tropes and bland characters, told primarily through their chatter as small icons on the corner of the screen and brief cutscenes. They all fall underneath a particular stereotype seen in just about any war torn/sci-fi romp, with little personality. I never felt a connection to the characters, or any concern for them. Often times, I found myself focusing on the environments and the action at hand, as opposed to the story driven plot points told frequently as you play. It never really amounts to much, and leaves the player wanting more.
Thankfully however, presentation is top notch. The graphics themselves don’t push the limits by any means, but they are crafted beautifully. There’s a surprisingly variety of colour in the vastness in space, such as the burning fiery scapes of a ruined planet in the background, or the cool neon blue of the wide open areas while the earth rests, looming behind you. Lasers in dogfights populate the screen in every direction, and a surprising amount of ships are usually found onscreen, leading to some breathtaking moments of awe when the blistering action of a chaotic dogfight and the wonderful visual flares of your surroundings work together in harmony. While occasionally it can feel like there is too much going on, as evident by the very rare amount of times the game slowed down, it never ceases to please visually.
The sound design also receives this precise care and attention. The soundtrack is very melodic and peaceful in the brief moments of solitude at the beginning of most missions and brief windows where you can breath after an intense assault, but then instantly rises and becomes lively on a grand scale upon an arrival of enemy forces to compliment the ensuing combat about to take place. Lasers, missiles, ships and blasts all play off with a satisfying boom and electrifying motion allowing you to be fully engrossed in the experience.
The gameplay itself is where the game both excels fantastically but falls short on several aspects. On a positive note, piloting your ship is enthralling. Flying around the immense vistas of space, while taking on hundreds of enemy forces is always a thrill, and with the arcade like shooting mechanics, there’s always a certain amount of emergency to each dogfight. Shooting cannons, missiles, and guns feels empowering and you never feel like you’re not given a fighting chance. The game’s namesake, the Strike Suit is by far the most appealing element however. Through destroying wreckage’s and evil forces, you build up a, “Flux,”meter that allows you to transform into a gratifying, heavily powered Mech/War machine, reminiscent of Gundam fighters, for a short period of time. Employing the colossal destructive power given to you to wipe out a fleet in seconds never loses it’s charm and often helps turn the tides in your favor in times where you’re overwhelmingly outnumbered.
Despite this refreshing feature, much of the game feels very stale in comparison. The missions desperately lack in variety. They almost always amount to the same objective: Defeat X number fighter, destroy this fleet, protect this ship. Within 3-4 missions, (out of 13 of the main campaign) not only have you seen most of the games mission types available, but you’ll have seen just about every rival ship you will encounter throughout. Coupled with the lackluster story and with most missions long over staying their welcome, when yet another seemingly endless barrage of colonial forces appears to strike you down, it tarnishes what could have been a beautifully realised title in a somewhat over saturated genre.
Strike Suit Zero has it’s flaws, quite a number of them in fact, that hold back it’s full potential. The game mechanics and wonderfully created presentation are by far the highlight, and are the sole reason I would recommend you buy this game. For the price of €18 and roughly 8 hours of gameplay, I would advise waiting for it to drop down a little before purchasing it. However, those willing to drop the cash are definitely in for a enjoyable experience, that will lend itself to numerous lasting moments.