Strike Suit Zero isn’t particularly complicated or intellectually challenging. It isn’t smashing the dominant gaming paradigm and holding up a mirror to society. Instead, it epitomises old-school, blast the crap out of everything fun.
The graphic styling immediately reminded me of Freelancer with the use of detailed static backgrounds and limited rendered content on the screen at any point in time. That said, backgrounds in Strike Suit are more impressive, with images of planets being destroyed, supernovas and near-earth encounters. While I played on a highly spec’ed PC, the game should play well on just about anything. If you’re lucky enough to have a PC connected to a big screen TV though, that is undoubtedly ideal.
Play for long enough and you’ll note that the story telling harks back to Metal Gear Solid, right down to the corny American accents. It’s all told via pop-up avatars of flight commanders and other cast members and is well paced with the Earth threatening mystery beginning from the first mission and slowly unfolding as you complete battles. While nothing about the story is particularly original, the conclusion of each battle does draw your attention as you receive the next dose of classic sci-fi content as a reward.
This pacing also means Strike Suit Zero doesn’t leave you waiting for long. You don’t wade through 20 minutes of cutscenes for three minutes of action, followed by another 20 minutes of cutscenes. You move from action to action in a relatively smooth cycle that manages to get your adrenalin pumping with a short breather in-between. While this is probably a function of cost saving on a low-budget game, it has been executed rather well.
Gameplay is pretty simple in Strike Suit Zero, mainly enlisting you to destroy anything you’re told to. At the beginning of the game, this is via your allocated ship that packs two weapon types: guns and missiles. Each comes in two varieties: unlimited ammo with less damage and limited ammo with more damage. You will need to be mindful of your limited ammo, though, as weapons do make things a lot easier, but can also run out fairly quickly. Plus, if you’re stuck ending a battle with your unlimited laser weapon, it can drag a little.
Complete optional mission objectives and you’ll be given upgraded fighters, weapons and ammo. This is a nice little addition and gives you a reason to re-run missions.
Things don’t really kick off until Mission 3, when you’re given control of the namesake – the Strike Suit. When in normal mode, this operates much like your previous ships. But collect enough space junk and you can activate the suit’s uber-weapons – i.e. you transform into a giant flying space robot that is more accurate, more powerful and more agile. For a limited time as your “Flux” drains, you are a killing machine able to fire multiple missiles, automatically lock-on to targets and generally whoop-ass. The Japanese influence is certainly there as you hear haunting music while in Strike Suit mode that is reminiscent of Neon Genesis Evangelion.
Once the Strike Suit comes out, difficulty ramps accordingly. This can be a little jarring at times, but the next ten missions make you realise that the first four were just a training run. If you want some advice, don’t use a keyboard and mouse to play. I connected my 360 controller and it configured perfectly with in-game recognition. I highly recommend doing the same to avoid your left-hand becoming an arthritic claw.
The main storyline takes around ten hours to complete, but there is around 30 hours of solid gameplay for the completionists out there. Like most classic games, your time to complete is measured as is your number of kills, kills by weapon type and more, with high performance unlocking additional ships, weapons and shields.
Strike Suit Zero doesn’t have any multiplayer mode, which would have extended the life of the game considerably. There is an option for DLC but for the moment, remains empty. If only they’d fill that slot with a ‘defend your capital ship’ style online multiplayer blast-fest – just a tip!
It is easy to see how this game secured Kickstarter funding. It just seems like the Frankenstein’s Monster of every gamer over 30. There are nods to a range of gaming and sci-fi classics that will appeal to you in your own subjective manner. Importantly, the packaging just seems right. It all comes together to give a smooth experience that is both familiar but fresh.
At the end of the day, I really like Strike Suit Zero, which is something I don’t often say. You can pick it up for $19.99 on Steam – a cracking price for a new game and one that gives me hope that the game industry is finally getting tiered pricing and content right.
That said, $19.99 doesn’t buy you the same level of quality control you’ll see in a triple-A title. I had a couple of incidents where the end of mission didn’t trigger, for example. I was flying around waiting to be told what to do next, restarted the mission and it proceeded correctly. Also, a run-time error occurred trying to start the game on one occasion. None of this was game breaking but it did take the polish off a little.
Strike Suit Zero is the kind of game you’ll use to blow off a bit of steam while waiting for the microwave to finish heating up your lunch. You can put it down and pick it back up very quickly as the backstory is straightforward and the gameplay is intuitive. Knock out a quick mission, get a story update, unlock a new weapon and then finish off mum’s reheated lasagna.
Just like when you were a kid.
- Reviewed On