Developer: Born Ready Games
Publisher: Born Ready Games
Release Date: January 23, 2013
ESRB: N/A (E10+ suggested)
When I first saw the trailer for Strike Suit Zero, contained in Born Ready Games' Kickstarter, I was impressed. The developerâ€™s first game touted fast and fun dogfighting, not unlike the Ace Combat games, combined with the epic and awesome feeling of piloting a huge robotic weapon that I could easily compare to the Zone of the Enders series. With the large scale fighting taking place in the midst of beautiful outer space backdrops, itâ€™s no surprise that Strike Suit Zero was able to reach its Kickstarter goal.
But, now the game is out for everyone to play, and Born Ready Games is being put to the ultimate test. Does their first entry into the gaming world end up being a resounding success... or does it crumble into space dust?
Strike Suit Zeroâ€™s story is a bit bare bones, but serviceable. As a United Nations of Earth (or UNE) pilot thatâ€™s been given a second chance you, as John Adams, travel the stars with his unit to find out how to stop the Colonial Fleet and its mysterious and powerful weapon. Youâ€™ll get little story playing the game itself; youâ€™ll get quips from the well-voiced secondary characters, but thatâ€™s all in that aspect. The gameâ€™s opening does provide a backstory involving mankindâ€™s colonization of space and the tensions that rose between those on Earth and the colonies, and how it led to the current war, but itâ€™s neither original nor the main draw to play this game.
The true draw to playing Strike Suit Zero is, of course, the gameplay. Interestingly enough, the gameâ€™s first few missions get you used to flying a normal ship... and with the complicated yet intuitive controls, itâ€™s needed. Learning how to effectively use thrusters, to roll properly, and to actually hit enemies with missiles certainly has a learning curve to it, but when you get used to it youâ€™ll be be shooting down Colonial ships like a pro pilot.
However, when you get the titular Strike Suit, everything changes. The giant mecha boasts superior firepower, but is also a large sitting duck, attracting the attention of all the enemiesâ€™ fire. Learning to manage the Flux gauge (which lets you transform into a giant robot) and balancing the mechaâ€™s superior firepower with the shipâ€™s speed, maneuverability, and different possible weapon combinations is key to getting through the game.
However, if one has trouble balancing all of these mechanics, or just with the game in general, a recent patch gives players an option of just toughing it out. While the Normal mode is a bit on the difficult side for non-space combat veterans, and Hardcore is nothing short of terrifying, Easy is more welcoming to newcomers to the genre. Born Ready Games listened to the community in making this new patch, and with it they made this arcade-style space combat game more accessible than just to the veteran and skilled crowds.
Mix this all together with beautiful graphics and scenery, and some wonderful tone setting tracks playing in the background, and youâ€™ve got the recipe for something great.
Unfortunately, not everything is perfect in this creation. Even with the adjustable difficulty, it is still uneven. Itâ€™s easy to get stuck in one of the earliest of the thirteen missions, only to breeze through the next five. It is not a boon either that ship upgrades are only unlocked by doing challenges within the missions; it rewards those that have the skill to unlock them, but the ones that need the upgrades the most might be left in the sub-zero space cold.
Another flaw is in the gameâ€™s A.I.. While itâ€™s a seemingly minor issue, in later missions it becomes difficult to tackle the different objectives at the same time. For example, one of the later missions has carriers shooting almost constant volleys of damaging torpedoes at the ally ship. Obviously these ships need to be destroyed, but if left unchecked the torpedoes will make quick work of the ship Iâ€™m escorting. This would be easily solved if ally ships either shot down incoming torpedoes or the carrier itself... but instead they bother themselves with random fighter pilots, leaving the player to do try to all of these tasks at once. It can lead to a lot of frustration, and with so many scenarios where you have to protect ally ships, itâ€™s something that happens far too often.
So, what can you make of Strike Suit Zero? Itâ€™s certainly a good game, especially so since this is a new studioâ€™s first attempt. Born Ready Games has created a fine space combat game. While the flaws are pretty large and ultimately hold the game back a bit, there is plenty to enjoy for those who stick through the quirks and faults.
+ Flying and fighting in the Strike Suit and other ships is satisfying
+ Multiple difficulties help cater to all audiences
+ Controls somewhat complicated, but work well and make sense
- Uneven difficulty can be worked around with different difficulties, but still frustrating
- Wonky A.I. makes it feel like you're the only one doing anything
- Ship upgrades awarded via challenges can bar off more casual players
Overall Score: 7.5 (out of 10)
Born Ready Game's first foray into the industry is not perfect, but is sure to be enjoyed by space combat fans.