What do you get when you mix one part Wing Commander and one part Robotech? If you guessed Born Ready's Kickstarter-funded Strike Suit Zero, you'd be correct. Wing Commander and Robotech mashed up sounds good on paper, but does it fare as well in practice? In short, yes and no, but mostly yes.
At its core, Strike Suit Zero is about using various ships to dogfight one another. Controls are very simple, consisting of standard twin stick mechanics for controlling pitch, yaw and roll with face and shoulder buttons controlling weapons and speed.
Enemies typically swarm around your ship in massive waves generating a sense of chaos that's more entertaining than stressful. The omnidirectional combat system reminds me of games I played 20 years ago on my dad's PC, hunting enemies in the vastness of space. Chasing enemies down and blowing them away is satisfying, especially in strike suit mode as you fire volleys of missiles at enemies from across the void.
Fun Mech Mechanics
After unlocking the game's titular Strike Suit, you'll be able to fill up your flux gauge by destroying enemies and space rubble. Once your gauge is at least 25% full, you can push a button to transform from ship to suit form, resulting in a Gundam or Robotech-like mech that not only looks cool, but is fun to control to boot.
The benefits of transforming are many, allowing you to auto-target enemies, travel roughly twice as fast and fire insane amounts of missiles at enemies from a greater distance than you're able to in your regular form.
The only major downside is your strike suit doesn't last nearly as long as I'd care for it to. If Strike Suit Zero offered the option to play as a suit throughout the entire game, I'd leap at the opportunity.
Lots of Content
Strike Suit Zero: Director's Cut packs quite a bit of content in a small package, pulling together all of the original's 13 missions along with the five included in the Heroes of the Fleet DLC.
Each of the game's 18 missions average around one hour a piece, assuming you can survive the massive waves the game hurls at you with alarming regularity. At its current price, Strike Suit Zero is charging essentially a buck a mission, which isn't a bad value.
Long, Repetitive Missions
To say the mission structure isn't quite varied in Strike Suit Zero would be an understatement. Each and every mission can really boil down to one objective — kill enemies fast. Occasionally you'll be tasked with escorting a ship or protecting a target, but the game's omnidirectional combat mechanics demand you abandon your objective and focus solely on taking out the vast swarms of ships that seem to all appear at once.
Strike Suit Zero's missions don't seem to know when to quit, however, and that can hurt, no matter how fun it is to shoot down ships in the depths of space. About 45 minutes into a mission, it can sometimes feel like an exercise of sheer willpower to get through.
A Bland Story
Strike Suit Zero's story is about as boring as they come. So much so in fact, that even just after finishing with it, I'm hard-pressed to remember any of it. The story serves as window dressing to the game's addictive combat. With missions as long as they are, it'd be nice to have a great story to help push the player forward.
It's been a long time since a space combat game found its way to consoles, and they've been sorely missed. With games like No Man's Sky reigniting interest in the genre, now is a great time to revisit it and whet your palette.
If you're looking for a game that puts mechanics above all else, Strike Suit Zero is a great mashup of traditional space combat with suits adding just enough difference to make an old concept feel modern.