Strike Suit Zero [Review]
You’re flying around in space again for the first time since you went AWOL—you have to be requalified for flight status after that stunt. You were warped from post to high orbit around a beautiful blue planet, and now you’re marveling at the world. The comm piece in your ear crackles with instructions, interrupting your view. Your orders: put this new spacecraft through its paces and show them what you can do. With the help of a quick tip system you immediately speed towards the piece of space debris and begin firing.
Strike Suit Zero immediately puts you into the action with a minor tutorial that will pop up as you begin to use new abilities. Your first objective is merely to shoot some space debris, but upon its destruction you’re confronted with enemy colonial fighters that somehow made it into Earth’s territory. The fighter that you’re initially in has a plasma gun with two different firing cycles and unlimited energy as the main weapon, a mini mass driver that fires physical rounds with finite ammunition, and some lock-on rockets. The first fight is easy, acclimating you to what going head to head with the fighters will be like, but overall this is really one of the only two easy fights you’re going to have in this game. Right after this you warp to where the main fleet was supposed to be engaging the main colonial force only to find most of the force wiped out and a destroyed alien planet looming in the background.
Making it to the third level gets you a major upgrade that makes the game much more awesome. You have to rescue a human/A.I. Hybrid, named Control, with the remnants of the main fleet. There is an ambush at the facility that your fighter is simply not equipped to handle, but Control gets everyone to buy her some time while she completes a new ship to confront the colonials and their new super weapon. While doing this the main fleet jumps and you get left behind to take control of this new ship. At this point my ears were gifted with some very impressive music that reminded me heavily of Ghost in the Shell and I went to work learning about this new craft called the Strike Suit.
The Strike Suit is a transformable craft that reminds me of the transformable suits from the Gundam series, except that this one can only stay in mech mode for a short amount of time. How much you can use the Strike mode of this suit depends on your Flux bar. Flux generates slowly over time, and also when you destroy enemy vessels and guns. This mode can be a double edged sword in many ways. On one hand your time in Strike mode can be very limited and you have a bit less mobility so you have to be careful of what you attack. However, if you’re taking on fighters or enemy gun pods then it’s happy hunting, as you can use my favorite feature for emergency destruction: rockets. You technically have a finite amount of rockets when you’re in Flight mode, but Strike mode uses flux for everything, so assuming you can chain target kills together you basically get unlimited rockets. This can be the difference between winning a very hard battle, or losing for the fiftieth time in a row on a very hard mission.
Speaking of hard missions, the game is definitely challenging. I wouldn’t say it’s for a casual gamer to pick up unless they’re adept at these sorts of games. I love the challenges but sometimes it’s a bit too much, for instance when you have to save a ship called the Auster so you can unlock a much needed upgrade for your ship. When you warp into the mess of a situation you have to help this ship that has next to no health left get away from another ship firing massive cannons. You also have to defend the ship against multiple fighters while destroying the cannons and watching your own ass. This one level frustrated me greatly as it was nearly impossible to do, and the one time I did it my game crashed immediately afterward.
The largest reason for this frustration was that this is how you get upgrades. The upgrades are given through completing side objectives such as protecting a ship as it escapes, destroying a set amount of fighters or completely wiping out an enemy force. The upgrades are along the lines of stronger shields, faster energy recharge rates and better armor. The game is challenging and the only way to make it through missions with more than the skin of your teeth is to acquire these upgrades.
The checkpoints in the game can be few and far in between and sometimes the missions are a bit too lengthy. Other times you have to defend ships or take out fighters when it seems that every flak gun, beam cannon, plasma turret, and fighter with missiles you need to dodge is trying to kill you and only you. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had to completely abandon a battlefield at breakneck speed to get away and live only to watch my objective get blown up because I was simply taking too much fire to act. (At least the explosions were great to look at.)
Despite all that, the game is simply beautiful. The backgrounds of nebulae, stars and planets are amazing to look at. The ships are visually pleasing to watch and the explosions that precede destruction are also great. Visually I can’t say that I’ve played a better space shooter. Most of the games taking place in space are incredibly dark, but not Strike Suit Zero. The music that goes along with the game also lends greatly to the action. A couple of times I was getting beat down by enemy fighters and turrets only to hear the game’s signature theme start playing. Once that happened I went into badass mode with the Strike and began laying waste to everything with rockets and guns.
Despite the difficulty of the game, its sometimes long missions, and a lack of more checkpoints, I still have to say this is a great game that just won’t let you win easily. It’s the kind of game that you’ll want to replay so you can perfect all of the missions, get the upgrades from the secondary mission objectives, and laugh while destroying enemy fleets. It’s challenging, beautiful to watch, and has virtually no control issues whatsoever. Besides, who doesn’t want to pilot a mech?