by Zee Salahuddin, reviewed on
Home Lancer Zero
It is hard not to compare Strike Suit Zero with the Homeworld or Freelancer or the Free Space series. Every little detail in the game pays respectful homage to the titans of yesteryears, building on a tried and tested formula that has resulted in some of the most memorable gaming experiences in gaming history. While Born Ready Games have done a stellar job of capturing the essence of what made these titles outstanding, it stagnates in other departments. However, there is no denying that this is a fun little package.
United Nations of Whatever
The story is utterly forgettable. At some arbitrary point in the future, humanity has traversed the stars and established outposts far and wide in the galaxy. The United Nations of Earth (UNE) has a tenuous relationship with off-world colonies, the knife’s edge barely concealed beneath mutual contempt. UNE scientists discover powerful alien technology (*sigh*) and their attempt to monopolize it for the UNE results in the conflict between the two sides.
The colonists, aided by the alien relic, possess the capability of decimating the UNE into embarrassing submission, and even shatter entire planets. You are a pilot in Earth’s surviving fleet that is racing home at breakneck speed to single-handedly turn the tide in your favor.
There are several missions that you must undertake in sequence, and four spaceships that you can pilot to wreck havoc amidst your enemies (more on the ships later). The first time you complete a mission you are restricted to one ship, but afterwards you can play the same mission with any unlocked ship you choose, which makes for some interesting replay value. The missions themselves, however, are uninspiring and rather limited in scope, with objectives that are so tiresome they actually detract from the incredible space combat the game has to offer. Kill waves of enemies, defend this ship from incoming missiles, destroy guns on that capital ship. The missions are tedious, and the atrocious length between checkpoints does not help. Add the forgettable story, and you have a potential recipe for disaster. Fortunately, this is where the criticism ends.
First, your ship leaves behind a neon trail. This is cool, not just visually, but also because it is a nod to the aforementioned space games that defined the genre. The maps are breathtaking, with celestial bodies draping the background in swathes of vibrant colors, and the foreground punctuated by the telltale explosions of destroyed mavericks. The story may be fairly run-of-the-mill, but Born Ready Games have done a commendable job of bringing to life a breathtaking, beautifully realized world.
Paul Ruskay score does wonders for the title’s score, just as he did for the haunting, ebbing rhythms of Homeworld. The sound design is excellent, with everything sounding exactly like you would want it to. Some would argue that hearing explosions in the vacuum of space seems to defy the laws of physics. But it looks and feels cool, so let’s just let that one slide.
Beautiful, haunting sound design, rock-solid space combat.
Passable story and missions, some wonky mechanics, crashes and the occasional bug.