Strike Suit Zero Director's Cut Review: Competent But Inadequate
[Disclosure: A review code was provided by the publisher for the contents of this article]
I'll spare you the drama so you don't have to shuffle through what you might perceive to be a collection of paragraphs not worth the time it would take you to read through and discover that this is or is not the game you may or may not way to lay $20 down to play: It isn't worth $20 in my opinion. So you don't have to waste your time reading why, I gave it two and a half stars out of five.
If you're expecting a rudimentary rundown of the game,, the premise and the other dry-as-a-desert's dune roll-out of typical information, I cover all of that in the preview pieces.
Strike Suit Zero Director's Cut, which happens to be the first ID@Xbox game to launch, is a technically competent game, but it's just not my cup of tea. There's a stark lack of hot and heavy action like a 30-year marriage that has about as much heated spark as an ice cap in the Antarctic. That's not to mention that the story is only going to be about as compelling to the most die-hard of space-cade fans out there. Anyone who bothers to pay attention to the human versus antagonists plot-line won't be treated to much of any rewards that you wouldn't already find in the most typical and mundane of Macross-style space shooter games.
Even still, what may not be colored in a flavor of gameplay that suits my palate, is something others craving for some basic 3D space action might find just to their liking. As the headline states and the second paragraph reiterates: This is a technically competent game with technically sound gameplay.
Flying around in mostly large empty arenas resembling the far reaches of space is handled with simplistic care no different than how Born Ready Games first brought Strike Suit Zero into existence two years ago.
You can perform basic flying maneuvers, but none of the fancy fly-boy stuff you might be used to in games like War Thunder or Sky Drift, or any number of other aerial flight sims out there (though to be fair, you can dodge left and right while when in the Strike Suit mech form). A lot of the fancy moves must be performed manually, as there is no trick or evasive maneuver button. Due to the lack of such a feature, it means that there's quite a lack of tactical and technical flight maneuverability involved with the stage and mission structure of the game, save for the final level in the original campaign.
In a way, the lack of skill-based flying is made up for with a bevy arsenal of space-age weapons. From heat-seeking missiles to scatter rifles to phased laser beams, there's definitely a nod from the developers, almost as if to say We know the flying is weak, but the shooting makes up for it!
The weapons can also be modified and upgraded along with six different ships that can be unlocked and played with throughout the game. For me, however, the weapon selection wasn't enough to compensate for the tame and lackluster space battles. It just never felt epic enough for me. In fact, I would say that the galactic space battles in Star Wars: Battlefront II felt bigger, more inclusive and a lot more pensive.
While the game's technical competency can't be argued with, the fun-factors can. I just didn't find myself being engaged much with the game, in spite of the somewhat visually captivating backgrounds that added a nice flair to the otherwise by-the-book mission structures and in turn that affected the overall fun-factors when it came to playability. Simply put: Am I likely to play this game again? No. Why? Because technically competent isn't enough to make me want to play again when the gameplay feels rather boring.
The first campaign containing more than a dozen missions will take you just under 20 hours or so to complete, the first time around. There's a handful of additional missions in the second campaign, but it may take you another hour or two tops to complete those. You can replay the missions to further upgrade your ships or beat the game on a harder difficulty setting. This game isn't quite ripe with tons of unlockables, similar to replay-heavy games such as Shank or Mercenary Kings, or a dozen and one other games out there.
There's no multiplayer. The graphics are good enough. The sound is okay. Anime fans will absolutely adore Paul Ruskay's soundtrack. And there's some slight performance hiccups if enough explosions are on the screen at one time, as mentioned in the first impressions piece. However, the biggest sin the game commits is that it doesn't commit enough to the concept of standing out from being a generic space arcade title.
As previously mentioned, other than the final stage in the original campaign, you're not going to see a lot of diversity or creative potentiality that the game could have had. I would have loved to seen more twitch-based flying stages, similar to games like Star Wars: Rogue Leader on the Gamecube, or Panzer Dragoon.
While budgetary concerns obviously played a factor into the game's overall design, it still doesn't excuse why there couldn't be more dogfights taking place between asteroids, or more capital ships flooding the screen to provide players with a lot of weaving and tactical maneuvers to explore. There was just large open arenas with a few ships here and there. Wasted space.
Strike Suit Zero easily could have been a lo-fi Starfox for today's generation of gamer. Instead, it's a relatively ho-hum experience that at least delivers on the promise of being a functional game (which is more than what I can say for many of its AAA counterparts).
The actual Strike Suit mechas in the game feel a bit underutilized, and the ability to transform between a standard attack ship and the mecha which is available only after racking up enough kills could have been better put to use with a much more diverse cache of missions. Instead, the mostly empty space arenas and lack of skill-based flying will mean that only bullet-hell-lite aficionados will really take notice of this game.
Nonetheless, if you're starved for titles on the Xbox One or you're really, really into games like Tie-Fighter or Shadow Squadron, you can give Strike Suit: Director's Cut a go for only $19.99.
Not to finish on a completely sour note: If Born Ready Games does a mission pack update with more stages designed similar to the final mission of the game, it could easily raise the prestige and value of Strike Suit Zero tenfold.
Platforms:PS4, PC, Xbox One (Reviewed)
Developer: Born Ready Games
Publisher: Born Ready Games
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