‘Mecha’ – I hope it’s a term the majority of you know. For decades it’s been the go-to term for those who like to lose themselves in the world of gigantic robots and their disproportional cannons. Where we had Transformers in the west, Asia had Gundam, and the wars between the better creation never really died down. Until now, fans of the genre (which oddly enough doesn’t include me) have had little choice but to simply watch as their anime heroes go head-to-head in fantastically mecha-fuelled combat; but Strike Suit Zero was funded by you, the lovely playerbase, to change that – or maybe the Transformers fans attempt to further shun the Japanese variant.
You guys ramped up the support for this title on Kickstarter; and here it is – Strike Suit Zero thrusts you straight into the complex world of orbital dogfighting with just about the simplest grasps on the controls as you could possibly get. If this were real, you’d most likely have defied the laws of gravity (or the lack of) and nose dived into a slowly rotating asteroid belt – and then bounce off – from the get-go. You’ll literally be asked to push the buttons for each flight command before being tasked with blowing up the remains of a space ship as if they were very large cans on a garden-sized shooting range. Once they’ve combusted into disappearing chucks you’ll have just enough time to realize you can’t undo the inverted movement controls – even if you can toggle it to death in the options menu. You’d better get used to them too as a plethora of enemy ships should be warping in right about…now!
The fights start out simple enough. A number of threatening ships will be circulating the skies like annoying little flies. And what do flies do best? Have no recognizable flight path. For the next 10 minutes you’ll be watching these guys fly by and hurling the odd couple of lasers at you as you try to come to terms with spatial awareness when a full Y axis is introduced. Forget your gun fights across lengthy fields – you’re in limitless space now! Once you’ve managed to come to terms with how it feels to be inside a spinning gyroscope, it’s time to swap those flies – and how good does it feel to see them pop. You’ll start off with an already healthy amount of fire power at your disposal ranging from your standard dual cannons to a more costly – but oh so more satisfying – triple laser gun when you toggle your third cannon with the d-pad. It’s not all “pew pew pew” as they would say it as soon you’ll have many times more interceptors buzzing around your turf and the turret-clad frigates plowing through sub-space to grab a piece of your astral fleet station. Now, you’re going to have to start relying on well aimed missiles and straight shooting rockets to fend off the seemingly spontaneous interlopers. Just what do they want, anyway?
What do they want? More space? They obviously want more space. How ever much space you already have in space, there’s always more to have. It seems the Earth federation have long been at war with these space pirates and had just recently gathered their fleets for a final, climactic galactic brawl with the confederates. With the utmost confidence in finally ending the bloodshed, the federation walked (or thrusted) right into an ambush on a grand scale. The confederates had scrounged together a weapon capable of shattering worlds with the evidence being clear in front of you. Their new toy immobilized the sudden morale deprived fleets and sunk them one by one; but with news of a human/A.I hybrid from the once cancelled “Control” operation being in the vicinity, it hatches a vague plan of how to stop the confederates before they’re able to use their shiny new gadget on earth. Who cares about the other planets, eh? Even at a time of multi-fleet orbital combat they still haven’t discovered life on other planets.
For the last hour or two you’ve been flying a simple entry-level federation ship and have racked up the kills. Did you forget this is a game of giant robots? Because I sure did. I was having enough fun diving into enemy turrets to compensate for my bad aim and ricocheting from them like a bouncy ball. While it seems silly to bounce and lose your shields from a collision at warp speed, you must admit, exploding from the simplest of things in the classic Rogue Squadron did lose its comedic value – eventually.
Well, the earth is about to shatter like a gobstopper hitting concrete, so it seems only fair to have ‘control’ set you up with that Strike Suit Zero you essentially funded. Now, don’t grow accustomed to it; the Strike Suit serves as an upgrade to your existing spacecraft while suffering from Super Sonic Syndrome – and no, that’s not an aviation term. Just like the famous hedgehog, the Strike Suit is a superior form of your normal mode, and something cool like that always needs outside fuel – this being the debris of every confederate that meets the end of your linked cannons.
Here’s where things start to get hectic. If you’ve even managed to get used to the controls at this point, you’re doing better than I. Being shipped off into the front lines after 5 minutes of training is awfully reminiscent of a certain war I missed by a long shot. You’ve just gained access to a flying, jagged and ruthless killing machine that has a pretty serious switch up in terms of movement controls and you’ll yet another meter to keep your eyes on. You’ll often be using the suit’s multi-missile capabilities to shut down the torpedo barrages setting sights on your space stations and command centres; and, if you happen to be out of juice for the mecha, well… you’d better say your goodbyes. It’s that simple.
Strike Suit Zero seems to have everything going for it – almost. It manages to have enough going on at any one time to cause some serious panic. You’ll constantly be shifting from chasing down interceptors to becoming one for the sake of shutting down torpedoes, being on the look out for missiles and crippling the artillery of the bigger confederate ships as you go along. Combine all this with ammo management and scouting the area and you’re never left with a dull moment. You’ll just only be told of how your efforts proved futile after your defence point explodes – leaving any urgency or dwindling fate absent from the end product. With a solid and lengthy campaign and challenges to prove your worth Strike Suit Zero is a game worthy of anyone who ever had a decent imagination as a child. Why set your sights on standing on the moon when you can blow up the people who probably just blew the thing up anyway?
Audio/visual – 4/5 : Visual presentation stays strong with just a few solid backdrops and low-framed animations setting it back. The music is a dream to listen to but does seem to focus on setting the tone of the surroundings rather than the events.
Gameplay – 5/5 : Once you pass the solid learning curve you’re left with a fantastic aerial dogfighting game. You’ll enjoy the challenge and never witness a dull moment. It’s just one brawl after another.
Innovation – 3/5 : There’s many more sky-centred dog fighters and flight sims out there and not enough of these space brawlers. Strike Suit Zero needn’t do much to set itself apart here.
Value – 3/5 : Each stage lays out a goal for you. Usually in the vein of taking no damage or protecting the target from every single enemy torpedo. They’re hard tasks that’ll reward you with ship upgrades and a better shot at the leader boards. Just don’t expect to be shooting your cousin from the skies.
Final Score – 4/5