I was able to pull myself away from the incredible Diablo III expansion long enough to play through a game that’s been on my Steam wishlist for a long time. Originally a Kickstarter project, Strike Suit Zero recently came out on PS4 as a download-only title. I figured for $15, I should finally give it a chance. It’s tough to master the controls and to score high, but repetitive missions make the final few levels a bear.
- Platform: PS4
- Score: 6.2
- Hours Played: 9
- What I Played: Main campaign
- Recommended: If you really enjoy space combat, it might be a fun few day’s worth of play time.
The year is 2299. The United Nations of Earth (U.N.E.) are locked in a war with other space colonies. It’s been a losing battle for some time, but the tide turns when you, after waking up with no memory, are given control of the game’s namesake, the Strike Suit, in hopes of turning the tide of battle once and for all.
While Strike Suit Zero is an old-school arcade space shooter, the story is given a decent amount of treatment. I mean, the writing is bad, but the way it plays out is surprisingly good. While controlling the giant weapon that is the strike suit, which I’ll discuss in a minute, other ships in the U.N.E. battle alongside you, barking out callsigns and battle strategy as ships whiz around. It helps give a nice feeling that while you may be the most important piece of the puzzle, you are just that — a piece.
But it’s very apparent that you are the main piece. The strike suit is a two-part animal. In it’s normal mode, it controls like any flight simulator. There are weapons with both ammo and regenerating energy, along with missiles (that require a lock-on) and rockets (which don’t). You can move left to right, roll, thrust, and slam on the brakes. Battles can get pretty hectic pretty fast with dozens of ships on screen at the same time. But, it boils down to a lot of dogfights. It can be tough to aim with both you and enemy ships moving in 360 degrees, but a handy lead reticle helps with aiming.
After collecting enough energy, which amounts to killing enough enemies, you’ll be able to transform into strike mode, turning your ship into a damage-dealing Transformer/Zord. While in strike mode, your ship can stop on a dime and turn in any direction. You can also lock onto the nearest enemy at all times, allowing you to make quick work of a group of fighters or a barrage of torpedoes.
Switching between normal and strike mode is quick and exciting. I loved diving into the fray, transforming, dealing a ton of damage, then transforming back and boosting away with just a sliver of shield left. The controls are difficult enough that it took me until the very last mission to really feel in control of the strike suit. I found myself learning the entire game, figuring out what tactics worked and what didn’t.
Missions, on the other hand, are not as exciting. Every single one starts with warping into an area, fighting off the enemy for as long as possible, then warping out. That’s it. Were never so much as given a picture of our pilot’s face, so it’s tough to feel for the man inside the ship with amnesia who was thrown into an intergalactic war. Some missions unlock new ships to play with, but why would you bother? One mission forces you to control a different ship, but the whole time that mission went on, I was just waiting to get back in the strike suit. Each mission has an objective that, if completed, will upgrade part of your ship, like your shields, but it’s unclear what each boost even does. A bar fills up some more, sure, but just how important/effective they are isn’t clear.
Each mission grades you on accuracy, damage, and time, among other things, with four medals to earn in each. Completionists can have some fun here, since the missions are pretty quick, but I found no reason to go back through to get leaderboard points or unclear-how-good-they-even-are ship upgrades. The PS4 version also comes with a previously-DLC-only mission pack. You can choose which weapons to bring into each mission as well, and they do vary a decent amount. Missiles range from fire-and-forget to small swarms and heavy hitters. Unfortunately, the only main guns are machine guns and the energy cannons.
Strike Suit Zero is pretty flashy while in combat, with fire and explosions littering the screen. It’s not as nice to look at as Resogun, but still pretty. The background is even more impressive. Planets below the battle arena are usually in flames and/or under siege. Some missions take place in a nebula with swirling masses of space … stuff, which is awfully pretty. Up-close textures are a bit bland, but with so much else going on, that can be forgiven.
The soundtrack to Strike Suit Zero absolutely sucks. There really is no other way to say it. Music in a game is only really noticeable if it’s exceptional on either end of the spectrum and for Strike Suit Zero that end is definitely the poor one. In the nine hours it took to play, I heard the only song the game has dozens of times. You can only take so much of a woman singing “ooooo oooooo ooooOOOOOO OOOOOOOO” in her best Halo theme song impression before it starts to drain on you.
Strike Suit Zero’s combat is tough to master, but the gameplay is too repetitive to warrant enough replays to do so. Dodging incoming fire and transforming into strike mode is exciting, but the lack of mission variety nearly outweighs it all. Strike Suit Zero is short — I completed it in a weekend — but fans of space shooters may find some fun here.