Strike Suit Zero: Director’s Cut Review – great mechanics that lack variety

The list of genre types to grace the PlayStation 4 is narrowing each week, and Strike Suit Zero: Director’s Cut fills in the blank for outer space fighters. What it provides is a hearty template for something great, and the concept itself is even entertaining to undertake. Is the ability to fly through space and shoot down other ships with ease as good as it sounds?

The narrow storyline takes players down the path of Lieutenant Adams, and his presence at the beginning of the game is disciplinary: after acting out of turn, he is set to low-end duties on his own, and he’s stricken with the incentives that proper service will forgive his misdemeanours. Shortly into the game, he’s caught in the clutches of fate as an artificial intelligence entity that Adams’ team is trying to save grants him a Strike Suit, which is a spacecraft that can transform briefly into a battle mech. As the game loads up, an interesting back story of the circumstances surrounding how Earth’s population separated from the planet in search of new habitable worlds unfolds in a way that echoes the American Revolution. However, the beginning of the story is the peak of the plot as the remainder of the game is delivered through sub-voice acted COMM conversation that leave a great deal to be desired. 

Graphically, Strike Suit Zero doesn’t push any boundaries. At the same time, it fields a clinic on how to properly deliver a great deal of information and on-screen activity without sacrificing the integrity of the game as a whole. With clean and consistent framework, Strike Suit Zero showcases an expertly-paced outer space shooter without making the entire experience too daunting. The difficulty is rather high, but the slightly slower pace of the game itself coupled with the amount of ships and targets on the screen at once make the time between analyzing a situation and executing properly much easier to manage.

The navigational controls are quite enticing, and spending extra time to coordinate how both joysticks affect ship movement only makes the game even easier to enjoy. The left joystick is used for spinning the ship left and right as well as moving up and down; whereas the right joystick is used for turning left and right as well as spinning forward and backward. Combining those movements will take a little time, especially for those of us out of the flight genres, but they work to perfection and also compliment the pace of the game.

The one negative to the gameplay is how targeting works. Since there’s such a focus on the triggers (for firing as well as acceleration and deceleration) and the joysticks for gameplay, placing the lock-on mechanic on a face button almost becomes inconvenient to the overall flow of the game itself. At the same time, the game automatically switches between targets that are in or around the reticles after a previously-locked target has been destroyed, so the game has a slight technique for compensation. This is a con for this game, simply because the gameplay elements are so intuitively complex that having to physically veer away from that takes more time than it should. While locked, however, Strike Suit Zero provides a lead reticle, which pinpoints exactly where to shoot in front of a target in order to hit it, so the system isn’t broken by any means.

The game itself stretches over fourteen missions and various difficulties that can stretch out the longevity of the overall package. There’s even a ship improvement system that provides upgrades dependent on the scores of each mission. Unfortunately, progression through the game sometimes requires players to return to previously completed missions to gather more upgrades in order to progress in the overall story, and this delay in the action lulls what could be a rather engrossing title. Even with the beautiful interstellar backdrops and accompanied musical score, spending an extended amount of time with Strike Suit Zero will appeal to mech fans the most, leaving most casual players in the dust somewhere halfway through the campaign. The gameplay variety is limited between normal ship mechanics that are smooth and slowly paced and the mech form that’s very quick and attack-heavy, but there’s not much else in terms of playability. There aren’t mini-games or game breaks that create an overall variety. $20 for Strike Suit Zero is a decent price, but the lack of variety and the almost hindering difficulty leave much to be desired. The unfortunate side to this is that the navigational controls are top notch, and they could be used in nearly any game with aerial or interstellar travel is involved. Strike Suit Zero is a great start, but it’s not a recommendation to give without explanation.



The Final Word

Strike Suit Zero: Director's Cut provides a great deal of fundamental successes with a great deal of equally fundamental flaws. Though the gameplay is solid and engaging, the weak narrative, delayed progression, and sparse gameplay variety leave this game only to those who love mechs.