by Zee Salahuddin
reviewed on PC
Four Fierce Fighters
You have four types of craft to pilot. There is the fighter, the interceptor, the bomber, and the titular Strike Suit. The former three behave exactly the way they sound, with the first designed as an all-purpose vehicle, the second a quick, lithe dog-fighter, and the third wielding a terrifying payload. Every ship is a treat to fly, weaving, tucking, dog-fighting its way through an unending supply of enemies.
However, the true gem of the bunch, however, is the Strike Suit, which Adams, our every-silent hero, receives fairly early on. First, the Strike Suit is the most balanced aircraft amongst its peers. Second, it has an alternate mode, where it transforms into a floating mecha that adheres to the spray-n-pray philosophy, releasing a lethal swarm of missiles at several targets. This ability transforms your one-on-one fighting aircraft into an AoE (area of effect) damage dealing machine. Third, the suit “charges up” by destroying enemies, and this can be unleashed in a menagerie of firepower that utterly ravages anything in your path.
The fighting is where the game really shines. It is a testament to how well the designers have nailed the combat in the game if you roll your eyes at the mission objectives, and shortly afterwards marvel at the intensity of the craziness that unfolds on your screen in a myriad of explosions, trails and pulsating backdrops. The combat between ships of your size is exhilarating, stomach-churning and death-defying as you twist and turn between behemoth capital ships, execute tight 180 and 360 degree turns to pursue foes and bob through debris releasing flares so those damned missiles lose your scent.
However, the combat is marred by a few design choices that do not seem to have the intended effect. First, there is too much information being displayed on screen. The battle arenas are massive in scale, and if you take a step back in a messy firefight, it is near impossible to understand the mayhem, because the beauty of the explosive combat is overshadowed by intrusive UI elements that mark each and every enemy on screen with a red diamond. Second, while the capital ship fights provide an interesting change of pace, combat locking and the fun-factor take a stark nosedive when compared to the rest of the combat mechanics. Third, your allies are unhelpful, redundant (don’t tell me I have a missile lock when my screen is already flashing red), and poor shots. There needs to be a careful balance between allied AI that is so good it makes you feel like a child participating in the Olympics, or so bad you curse their very existence. You should feel powerful and in control. For all I know, I could have been a bad pilot among terrible ones, so I still managed to stand out from the (brain dead) crowd.
Strike Suit Zero is nonetheless a solid title, a Kickstarter success story. Unfortunately, owing to a forgettable story, uninspiring missions, some wonky combat mechanics and the infrequent crash, it will not win any GOTY awards.
Beautiful, haunting sound design, rock-solid space combat.
Passable story and missions, some wonky mechanics, crashes and the occasional bug.