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The arcade space shooter has long been a genre dominated by PC gaming. If you're into console titles and wanted a space shooter, you're usually out of luck. On the flip side, most anime-style mech combat games are console exclusives, and if you want one, well you'll need to get a console. Born Ready Games' Strike Suit Zero is aiming to bridge the gap between both worlds.
After successfully hitting their Kickstarter goal, Born Ready Games got knee-deep into the production cycle and has been there ever since, as the team preps for a January 24th release date.
I managed to get some hands-on time with the game and it definitely feels more like a space shooter than an arcade mech game. Basically, players are put into the position to pilot various craft that can alter between a flying spaceship and a floating, fully armed mech-suit. The mech transformation has a limited amount of energy, so you can't stay transformed for too long, but so long as your meter isn't completely drained you can transform into the mech.
The balance of the game is that the mech gets a lot of automatic, auto lock-on type technology, where-as the space ship is a traditional free-flying mechanism that relies a bit more on piloting skills than locking-on and letting go. In a way, you could say the space ship is like an F-22 and the mech is like a tank.
Unfortunately, the difference between the two modes seems a little tenuous, and I only found myself switching to the mech (which can easily be done by pressing the 'A' button on the controller) and using the mech to wipe out fighters with swarm missiles and rapid fire plasma attacks when I felt utterly overwhelmed, otherwise it was easy to forget about mech mode. Alternatively, if you have the piloting skills you can just duck and dodge enemy fire and skillfully take them out one-by-one.
As a forewarning and minor gripe about the combat (and this is something that could be fixed before release) it felt like there weren't enough evasive maneuver techniques available. When the lock-on warnings came popping up the most I could do was twist, turn and attempt loops to circle back around to my attackers, but it was hard to get a clear indication of which ship was actually hitting me. This could be viewed as good or bad depending on the way you view the difficulty of space combat. If you like a real challenge then you'll definitely get it with Strike Suit Zero, but if you need some casual hand-holding then you might be disappointed.
Visually the game comes across as a darker Sega Model 3 title, so fans of Sega's Virtual-On series or stuff like Metal Wolf Chaos might find a close semblance to the ship and mech designs.
To be honest, it's hard to tell what to think of Strike Suit Zero. The difficulty of the game took me by surprise, which has been absent in a lot of games as of late. The controls are at least fluid, responsive and customizable, and that works in favor of PC gamers who would rather choose to play via keyboard and mouse, joystick or gamepad.
I've never been fond of preview builds because you can't know what the final game will really be like and you can only judge the experience based on the quality of the gameplay. With that said, at least the gameplay in Strike Suit Zero is solid. For gamers looking for a mech-suit, space-combat arcade shooter, this is at least the kind of game that fulfills that role competently.
You can look for Strike Suit Zero to launch in early 2013 for PC via Steam. The game is also set to release digitally for PS3 and Xbox 360.