Inside Pulse 12

Review: Strike Suit Zero Director’s Cut (Microsoft Xbox One)

Strike Suit Zero Director’s Cut
Developer: Born Ready Games
Publisher: Born Ready Games
Genre: Action, Flight
Release date: 04/08/2014

Strike Suit Zero: Director’s Cut is a rerelease of the PC indie title made exclusively for the Xbox One and PlayStation 4. Chances are you might not have heard of this title when it quietly released last year. It’s a space combat game that centers around you flying a ship that can change into a mech (obviously influenced by the classic anime Robotech) as you combat giant waves of enemy fighters, frigates and capital ships. The synopsis of the game revolves around a small space naval brigade teaming up with an AI to stop colony extremists from destroying other colonies and eventually earth.

Porting a PC space combat sim to consoles isn’t a difficult thing to do. Classic games like the Wing Commander franchise, Bang! Gunship Elite and others have managed to be ported successfully to the consoles of their day. The main fear when porting combat space sims is most importantly, how the controls are handled. Strike Suit Zero does have some issues here and it takes quite a while to get the hang of the controls if you’re use to playing on the PC. Unfortunately we don’t have the luxury of a Thrustmaster Flight stick or the precision aiming of the mouse, but for the most part it works. You’re only given a couple of options for how to control your ship and after a couple hours of flying around I found that the second option managed to best suit me.

Controlling the flight direction and the pitch and yaw of your ship is handled exclusively with both analog sticks and it works really well. You can have the trigger and shoulder buttons moved around but they are used for firing both primary and secondary weapons and adjusting your speed. Where the control schemes seem to falter is when using the other abilities you have like changing targets, changing weapons, transforming and locking onto targets with missiles. The button layout is rather odd and forces you to stop maneuvering your ship from time to time, leaving you open to cheap shots and cannon fire.

The ships themselves feel fine when controlling them with both sticks. Each ship does handle differently in acceleration, top speed and directional change and the controls feel very precise. I don’t detect any lag at all and I am able to stay on top of most enemy ships that I am hunting down. The developers also helped out console players by adding a sort of auto-aim to help you with firing your main guns. It’s also easy to fly the large objects like space debris, cargo ships and carriers.

Now for as good as the controls are however there are some issues with the games physics. Even though you can fly around cargo ships and carriers with ease, if you, say, turn too sharply you merely bump off the ship. Or if you fly into some debris or a space station you either go through it or bounce off or run along the sides taking damage to shields and eventually to your ship. In space combat games 101, you crash into something, you blow up or take heavy damage, not bounce off. When using ship boosters, you don’t maintain your speed but gradually slow back down to the normal speed you move at.

As a whole, the combat for Strike Suit Zero flows well at times where you can easily focus on each easily objective. Other times it can be completely chaotic to the point of losing your sense of direction. When combat is flowing well, it’s usually when the I am able to properly lock onto the right targets, my missiles actually do damage to my targets, my EMP burst actually saves me from incoming projectiles. When it gets chaotic is when things go wrong, like my locked-on missiles hitting targets and dealing no damage, EMP bursts having no effect, being killed in a couple of shots by cannons from frigates and small carrier ships, unable to properly target the closest or right enemy ship. These things made me very cross with how frequently they occurred.

Another issue I have with Strike Suit Zero are the graphics. Yes, they actually are nice to look at. The ships designs are sharp and visually good looking and the galactic backdrops are stunning. The ships and your Strike Suit mecha all look good with some decent details and the space battle fields are littered with tons of damaged crafts and debris all over the place. The big objects like space stations and capital ships are hands down some of the best eye candy of the game in terms of scope and detail. With all that being said, Strike Suit Zero‘s graphics give me a giant headache after a few minutes of play because of the ungodly amount of overwhelming visual effects.

For some reason every ship and missile produces tail beams of light and there are over a dozen things on screen at once. On top of that the blooming effects are pushed to eleven to where every light source have a giant glowing hue to it, including the space collage backgrounds. There’s also the blurring effects that appear way to frequent when flying around either in mecha form, when using your boosters, or watching an enemy ship fly out of your viewpoint. I’m used to playing lots of games with tons of visual stimulation and Strike Suit Zero somehow ends up being the first game where I have to take a break after each mission to rest my eyes. The biggest crime, however, is we aren’t given the option to turn off the blurring and blooming effects like we were in the PC version.

My final issue is how rather short of a game Strike Suit Zero turned out to be. The main story of the game spans 13 missions with the add-on content spanning five missions. Each mission only takes around 15 to 25 minutes to complete unless you die a few times. Unlike many other space combat games with branching paths and multiple endings, Strike Suit Zero keeps it straight. You either fail or succeed in your mission then move onto the next. You fail the mission if all the ships you escort go down, if your capital ship is destroyed by torpedoes, or by simply getting shot down. You succeed by surviving to the end of each mission. You can easily fly through the main campaign and its add-on content in under ten hours.

By the way, one of the best features implemented are the check zones which save your progress at certain moments during a mission. This is one of the best things I have ever seen in a space combat game and allows you to continue your mission unlike, say, Wing Commander or Star Lancer, which force you to restart from the beginning. Definitely one the game’s saving graces since sometimes the game can get rather tough at times during a mission and it would drive me nuts to replay the whole thing again.

Overall, I did manage to find Strike Suit Zero enjoyable on some levels when the game was flowing nicely and everything worked like it should. I had a blast engaging enemy ships and gunning down unleashing giant waves of missiles towards capital ships. I found it unenjoyable only when things started not working properly or I would have issues with visual stimulation overload. The fact that it’s a short game actually won’t stop you from replaying some missions to earn bonus points and land yourself higher on the game’s leaderboards. Strike Suit Zero can definitely hold you over until Star Citizen finally releases.

Short Attention Span Summary:
Strike Suit Zero did manage to surprise me as an enjoyable title with some nice visual flair and some intense space combat. The controls are really decent for a PC to console port and they respond well without any delay. The issues that arise with the collisions are an issue that does take away from the game but not enough to the point that you won’t stop playing it. The other problems like the fickle targeting system or hit detection are really minor nuisances that don’t pop up that often. My only major concern was the visual overload with the blooming and blur effects which after one mission forces me to take a break from the action. Strike Suit Zero Director’s Cut may also be on the short side, but it’s got this charm to it that manages to pull you back in and replay missions like many of it’s predecessors. This is definitely one indie title I think you should check out if you are craving some intense space combat.

Tags: , , , , , ,