What happens if you take Freelancer, mash it up with a bit of Gundam, add a sprinkling of Homeworld and season with some Colony Wars. You get the wonderful Strike Suit Zero from Born Ready Games, that’s what. Strike Suit Zero is a crowdfunded, indie space shooter that injects a nice bolt of life into the oft-ignored genre. With awesome visuals. almost on par with many AAA releases and a stunning soundtrack from Homeworld composer Paul Ruskay, Strike Suit Zero Directors Cut is one of the best indie releases on the PS4 and Xbox One yet.
Strike Suit Zero takes place in the 22nd century. The universe is gripped in a bitter, interstellar war between the U.N.E (United Nations of Earth) and the Colonials, who seek revenge for the destruction of a planet called Akira 5 which was destroyed, killing 32 billion innocent people. The U.N.E have an advantage and that would just so happen to be you… The pilot of their experimental new secret weapon called the Strike Suit.
Capable of transforming from a relatively standard spaceship into a hyper advanced fighting mech, the Strike Suit has the potential to turn the war around and save the people of earth from the incoming Colonial fleet. For a game with very little in the way of cutscenes, Strike Suit Zero does a great job of telling an interesting story through it’s in-game dialogues alone. The directors cut of the game comes bundled with the “Heroes of the Fleet” DLC, which will grant some additional insight into the events surrounding the destruction of Akira 5.
A game like Strike Suit Zero lives or dies by it’s gameplay. Luckily the gameplay on offer is some of the best space combat we’ve been given in years and it honesty (wait for PC Master Race to object) plays better on Consoles than it’s PC counterpart. Now, don’t get me wrong I own SSZ on every platform it’s been released for, but the [default] controls always felt a bit cumbersome. Configuring the controls was a frustrating affair in and of itself. The PS4 and Xbox One version of the game does not have this problem and feels built for controller play.
OK. I’m assuming I’ve lost most of the PC users… Damn. Anyhow, I can’t stress the overhaul in the controls department enough. One of the biggest issues in the PC release was that Strike Mode (A.K.A Mech Mode) was a bitch to control. Now controlling your Strike Suit is a doddle and you can simply hold Triangle or Y to auto-target the nearest enemy while using the stick to dash around and the R trigger to fire. The game constantly treads a fine line between space sim and arcade shooter, but it does so with great reverence to both genres.
There are thirteen levels on offer in the main campaign, with a further five found in the Heroes of the Fleet sub-campaign. Levels can take anywhere from 15 minutes to an hour to complete, so they should keep you occupied for quite some time. The Heroes of the Fleet missions are particularly tough and although accessible from the outset of the game, you are probably better off returning to these levels after you’ve completed the main campaign.
Visually the game shines on PS4 and Xbox One. While, it’s pointless to suggest that Strike Suit Zero Directors Cut looks as good as the PC version on Ultra Settings, it does a damn fine job of attempting to hit that mark. The particle effects are top notch and the lighting has seen quite a makeover in the jump to consoles. The environments are absolutely gorgeous, but are weirdly static. The environmental assets, such as debris and space dust go a long way towards bringing the void of space to life.
The audio is definitely worth talking about here as Strike Suit Zero boasts one of the best scores I’ve heard in any PSN/Arcade game of late. Paul Ruskay, composer for the popular Homeworld games, has worked hard to deliver a musical score that mixes contemporary sci-fi with classic anime stylings. The music feels equal parts Oblivion (you know the Matt Damon movie with a score by french band M83) and Mobile Suit Gundam. Sound effects are great through headphones or a decent surround sound system, but important tones like the missile lock sound can sometimes be lost amidst the general chaos.
Strike Suit Zero was a labour of love for Born Ready Games that didn’t quite hit all the right notes in its original release on PC. Now that the game has moved to console it’s better than ever and should be a must buy for owners of next gen consoles considering its interesting gameplay, beautiful visuals and low price point.
When I first played the game 2 years ago at Rezzed in Brighton, I was shocked that such a small team could make such a huge game. Imagine how I feel now that they have basically improved on that build in almost every way.
If you’ve never enjoyed space combat sims though, this game won’t be the one to change your mind.