For their first entry into the gaming world, UK developer Born Ready Games have opted for the kickstarter approach. Raising a decent amount of $174,000, they reached almost double their estimated goal. While this may not be a massive overshot like you would see with some other, more high-profile projects, it hasn’t stopped this small time developer from putting their heart and soul into their game.
Strike Suit Zero is essentially a marriage between both the Western and Eastern take on the genre. You will see massive space battles between cruisers and smaller fighters similar to that of Star Wars, as well as the Mechs and swarm missiles you would expect from a Japanese counterpart.
The interface of Strike Suit is nice and simple. The menus have a sharp resolution with a terminal-interface style theme that fits that of a space ship. The colour blue is a strong part of this game. While this may sound odd, everything from the main menu to the in-game UI is blasted with a tint of bright blue. The actual in-game interface will take some getting used to, as there are multiple different icons and armament names that you will need to learn. Thankfully, this manages to remain out of the way for the most part allowing you to soak in all of the glorious space atmosphere.
While the game levels play out in a spherical skybox, these do well to convey the expanse of the universe and immerse you in some beautiful set pieces. Levels are based in a variety of areas including everything from destroyed planets to dense nebulae. Very few of the game’s environments feel repetitive, which is impressive considering the somewhat limited ability for variety in space. The framerate never skips a beat, with every bit of the intense combat being rendered in an almost constant 60 FPS. There are multiple different ship models in the game such as fighters, frigates, capital ships and many others. While a lot of the larger ships have an impressive scale and architecture, the designs for the ships you will be controlling fall flat on their face, often looking like a pencil with thrusters strapped to either side. Texture details in the ships and space stations are decent, but far from incredible. Considering how fast the pace of the game is, most of these textures will be a blur amidst the intense combat. All small ships leave a coloured stream behind them showing their affiliation. Allies will leave blue trails while enemy ships will leave a dark orange one. One of my biggest issues with the game’s presentation is the camera and the inability to free-look around my ship when flying. Feeling as though you are permanently glued to the back of your ship without being able to check your peripheral can be a real pain at times. The overall lack of camera controls feels lazy and given the amount there is to look at in the game, it feels strange that you are so restricted.
I have always had an expectation of exceptional music for space based media. While Strike Suit is no exception to this expectation, it squanders its potential. It has some good ambient music which helps to enhance the feeling of colonial space fleet combat. The problem is not with the quality of the music, but rather the lack of it. You often find yourself listening to the same piece across multiple different levels. It’s disappointing that Strike Suit lost the opportunity to combine a really memorable soundtrack with some of its massive, well-designed battles. The sound effects in Strike Suit feel pretty weak at times but the explosions hit the ears like a sonic tonne of bricks. Considering how many explosions you’ll be hearing, this almost completely compensates for the rest of the game’s underwhelming audio. In regards to voice acting, it isn’t badly performed, but lacks any real enthusiasm behind it.
Strike Suit Zero opens up with a tutorial. You will be shown to different areas by your partner and taken through the basics of everything from weapon management to flight controls. Your brief lesson is interrupted by enemy colonial pilots and this is when the game begins to show its true colours. You are then introduced to combat. The game controls quite well and while there are not many controls to get your head around, there is a strong amount of depth to how they can be used. The ship can be directed with the mouse while your “A” and “D” keys will roll your ship. It should be noted that any of these controls can be reconfigured and the game has support for many different controller inputs, such as flight sticks and gamepads.
This game’s strong suit is definitely in the scale of its battles. While the game starts up with small squad vs. squad combat, you will eventually be thrown into a solar system of multiple ships and all the firepower that comes with them. Different environments will feature different gameplay elements. The previously mentioned nebulae will interfere with missile systems and you will be dodging the wreckage of large corvettes as battles progress. Many of the game’s pilotable ships play quite differently. Bomber controls, among others, can take some time to wrap your head around. However, the main focus is definitely on the strike suit. This works the same way as a regular fighter does, but has the ability to transform into a gundam style death robot upon building up your combat meter. The strike suit allows you to dart between entire fleets while decimating cruisers with a barrage of missiles. It pulls no punches when it comes to power which is good considering that your time spent in strike suit mode is not all that often. Strike Suit Zero does a fantastic job at making you feel as though you are just another cog in the great U.N.E. space machine. None of the game’s battles will have you being surrounded by every enemy; all other AI partners take equal priority. Straight from the game’s tutorial to its end, every battle will grow in scale and intensity beyond what you thought was possible.
Strike Suit Zero is a game that really surprised me. It’s a budget kickstarter title that has presented some of the most incredible space battles I have seen in a videogame. The pacing is handled very well and the game is simplistic yet impressive in its nature. Gameplay feels fluid and there is a good amount of depth to the combat and controls alike. The game suffers from a few downfalls, such as a fairly un-compelling story coupled with a short campaign. If you’re not too keen on the idea of being told a story and want a game that makes you say “where’s the screenshot button” every few minutes, this might just be your thing. The promise of mod tools has me hopeful that one of its few issues can be ironed out by the community in the future.