Published on October 17th, 2012 | by ~G~0
Preview: Strike Suit Zero hands on
We recently got some hands on time with the up coming digital space combat title from Born Ready Games, Strike Suit Zero.
At its heart, Strike Suit Zero is a space combat simulator – similar to games such as Rogue Squadron/Leader and X-Wing vs Tie Fighter. But unlike the aforementioned Star Wars classics, Strike Suit Zero has some more modern twists.
Strike Suit Zero is set in the final hours of Earth, sometime in the future. Earth’s only hope of survival is with the ‘Strike Suit’ – an advanced spacecraft with the ability to transform into a mech and unleash powerful firepower and awesome abilities. The mech and ships were designed by renowned mechanical design engineer, Junji Okubo (best known for Appleseed: Ex Machina, Steel Battalion),
The main feature (or ‘gimmick’ – if you’re of a negative persuasion) is the ability to transform your ship into a giant space mech. During combat, as you kill enemy ships, you fill up your ‘Flux meter’ which then enables you to switch to your more powerful mech form. [On a side note: I’m told that Junji’s mech design is so intricate that the transformation process (if the thing was real) would actually work. It’s hard to say how true this is, however it shows how much love has been put into the design of the game.]
You can transform at any time, as long as you have some ‘flux’ in the meter and any further kills in your mech form will fill the meter further. So, I’m told, it is wholly possible to play through a mission almost entirely in the mech form – depending on how good you are.
See, while the mech form is more powerful – able to have multiple lock-ons with the missles and dodge incoming projectiles in a split second – it is a lot harder to control. You no longer have the standard smooth flowing motion you get with the standard space ship mode. Instead the mech sort of stands/floats still in space, and its movements are more like quick thrusts in the different directions.
The advantage of the quick thrusts (as mentioned before) is that you can very quickly and easily avoid attacks, plus you can also move effortlessly into better attacking and defending positions – giving you a much better tactical advantage.
But the controls, for me, were just a lot more taxing in the mech and the demo mission I was playing had so much stuff happening – loads of enemy ships and lasers flying at me – that I found it hard to really get to grips with the mech properly, so I actually spent most of my playtime in the normal ship form – switching to the mech when I needed to bring out some serious devastation on some of the larger enemy ships at the end of the demo.
The demo mission, I’m told, is not going to make it into the final version of the game, it was created purely to preview the title (though there is a chance it could make it as some DLC later down the line).
The mission was a simple affair, you are tasked with wiping out any attacking enemy forces – which come at you in increasing waves of difficulty, starting with basic fighters, to bombers up to three giant cruiser ships.
On your side you also have one cruiser ship and lots of smaller fighters to help you against your enemies. However, if you aren’t careful, you can lose your main cruiser and most of your friendly ships.
Essentially Strike Suit Zero becomes more of tactical game. You have the option to basically go out and attack, jumping right into the fray. Or you can be more cautious and take a more defensive stance, by protecting your friendly ships, while they do the killing. And your ships are not just for show – they will kill the enemies; for example I saw my cruiser taking down one of the other cruisers, as I was helping destroy a ton of incoming missiles.
Both these gameplay styles have their advantages and disadvantages. Being aggressive will mean that you can build up your score and flux meter very quickly. However, it can mean your friendly ships are left open to some of the harder attacks and also you might accidentally find yourself over-powered by some stronger enemies.
Being defensive will mean that you can ensure your side’s success in battle – such as helping to destroy incoming missiles that threaten your cruiser. But this also means that you won’t receive such a good score at the end of the level – because your team mates have done most of the killing.
This brings me onto the scoring. At the end pf each level you are judged in various areas on how well you have done – such as enemies killed and time taken to finish the level. Depending on how well you do you are awarded medals – just a little something extra to aim for when replaying levels.
Speaking of replaying levels, I’m told part of the game’s development has focused on creating a title that is fun to replay through. This is done in a few ways, the aforementioned medal/points systems being one of them.
I’m told that the Strike Suit isn’t the only ship you can pilot, you are able to unlock a few other standard ships (which don’t transform into mechs), giving you a chance to test your combat skills without the benefit of the enhanced mech mode.
The game’s story also has a few different endings. I wasn’t given too much detail, but from what I could gather the story doesn’t change dramatically, more that the very end will see slightly different things happen – a little bit like Mass Effect 3, but without the shit choice at the end (which completely ruined the whole ‘game changing choices’ through the campaign idea).
So on some missions you will have a side quest, which you can choose to ignore, should you wish, and an example given was that you might need to protect another ship, such as one of your main cruisers and should the cruiser be destroyed, you can still finish the mission and the game, but you might find that (say) New York city has been destroyed come the end of the game. However, if you save the cruiser then not only does the cruiser help defeat more enemies, but New York city will be saved – giving you a better ending.
Visually I love what Born Ready Games has done with Strike Suit Zero. The level backdrops look awesome – with massive, detailed planets to fight above and the detail of the ships look great. Plus to help spruce up the game and make it a little bit more aesthetically pleasing, the ships have some lovely vapour trails, which also helps you spot enemies with ease.
The music in the game is also pretty decent. Unfortunately in the demo the background music seemed to be turned down a bit (and I couldn’t be bothered to fiddle with settings – I just wanted to play), but what I did hear of the music it was very fitting. And really it should be, as Born Ready Games has brought in the talents of award-winning sound designer/composer, Paul Ruskay (Homeworld). Lovely stuff.
The demo mission was really enjoyable and it’s great to see a company have a crack at a space combat title – there just doesn’t seem to be enough of them around (in my opinion).
The amount of enemies and friendly ships on screen made me feel like I was in a genuine space battle. The Strike Suit might seem like a bit of a gimmick to some people, but it is a pretty cool and original idea – adding something completely new to the genre.
Despite some slightly awkward controls with the Strike Suit, the overall experience was smooth and a blast to play. I ended up playing the demo mission four times – each time trying to get a better score – and by the end I was able to obtain a Gold Ranking (pictured in the gallery below). Yey me.
If you’re a fan of space combat games, then I would definitely recommend checking Strike Suit Zero out. It’s fun, frantic and beautiful.
*Strike Suit Zero is due out on Steam sometime this Autumn (date not yet confirmed) and also on XBLA and PSN in early 2013.