One of the most hotly contested topics regarding last year’s announcements of the next-generation was how indie developers can self-publish on the PlayStation 4, but not on the Xbox One. This oversight was soon rectified when the ID@Xbox project was announced, bringing many indie developers on board. While Strike Suit Zero debuted on PC earlier this year, Strike Suit Zero: Director’s Cut marks the first ID@Xbox project to be launched on the new console, while at the same time launching on PS4. Is it a galactic tour du force or an interstellar calamity?
Give me a Sign
Humans have been searching for “The Signal” ever since first contact told them how they can advance technology so it is capable of greatly enhanced space travel. A long search has resulted in colonies forming, increasingly wishing independence. One thing leads to another and an intergalactic civil war breaks out. As a Pilot for Earth’s forces, you are ordered to escort a cargo vessel to an isolated space station, eventually winding up being part of a force that is trying to save Earth from annihilation.
While certainly not breaking the newer machines in terms of graphical fidelity, it is far from a bad-looking game. Enemy models have a degree of variety and there’s something to be said about just how hectic the action gets. Sometimes it’s a little hard to pick out a few of the targets, but there is a lock-on system to help with this a little.
As for the music, think something along the lines of Blade Runner or possibly the newer Battlestar Galactica in terms of inspiration, giving a distinctly other-worldly score. Sometimes it gets drowned out by the whooshes of enemy ships passing by, or explosions around you though, which is a shame.
Setting lasers to kill
Consoles don’t generally get much in the way of space flight beyond singular levels, but these alone prove that the concept is relatively viable. Halo: Reach was the rare example of space flight arenas done right where the controls for once worked well. Gamers have also been getting used to typical flight controls thanks to the jet in Battlefield or the Ace Combat franchise.
Strike Suit Zero: Director’s Cut falls under this control scheme style, including a reticule that shows where you should be shooting in order to hit your target. Occasionally there will be cases of disorientation, but for the most part the controls work well. Switching to the suit formation (the ship taking influence from Gundam and Transformers) handles less precisely, though this is mostly because the pitch is handled via the d-pad, rather than being unplayable, but also makes one feel like they’re wrecking shop in the intergalactic dogfight.
The only slightly annoying moments come when the lock-on system doesn’t target the part of larger ships you wish to fire on, focusing on parts that won’t help instead. Time is precious in these dogfights, so having a glitchy lock-on mechanic just adds frustration. Blowing up enemies is hugely satisfying as once you’ve overcome the learning curve for controls, you’ll feel right at home in the cockpit.
She cannae’ take anymore Cap’n
Missions start easily enough, though the difficulty is inconsistent as some later missions feel easier than earlier ones. Structure doesn’t really deviate beyond destroying certain ships or parts of larger fleets that are dealing significant damage to a flagship you are ordered to defend. Sometimes you’ll be asked to escort ships to a destination, or destroy relay beacons or fuelling stations, but at least you are never ordered to dock somewhere. Sadly though, the mission structure does let the game down a bit as it never strays beyond its confines, thus proving to be quite the slog.
Two campaigns are available from the outset, with the second acting like a computer simulation of events from the war. These former DLC missions do not treat you like a novice, so you should probably start tackling these after first sampling the campaign or at the very least got a good handle on the controls. You accumulate points and subsequent ranks at the end of each mission, granting incentive for replays, while unlockable ships and guns give a decent level of customisation. Beyond this however, there is no multiplayer to speak of, which feels like a missed opportunity given that it is landing on consoles.
We’re pretty sure this Kickstarter funded and console giant nurtured effort had good intentions in mind, but Strike Suit Zero: Director’s Cut doesn’t exactly do a great deal new beyond its superb mechanics. The handling for the most part feels solid, while it is fun to blow up enemy ships, there just isn’t much else to do. Having all the content that came separately in the PC version is a nice touch, but the difficulty spikes are just too polarising to wholeheartedly recommend. Space fighter games such as this are rare, so hopefully with a bit more consideration with level structure Born Ready games can come up with a superior effort next time.