I have a weird relationship with dogfighter games. The only game I have personal experience with is Star Wars: Rogue Squadron on the GameCube–while I loved the game and poured hours into it, I can’t remember ever getting past level two. What I’m trying to get at is I suck at space fighters; however, with the release of Strike Suit Zero: Director’s Cut on the PS4, I was willing to try my hand again (understanding full well that my ass would be handed back to me by space marines). Is this Kickstarter space-themed indie accessible, or, like many space shooting games, do you need space-training to understand it?
Born Ready Games is a new player to the developing scene, coming from a mixed bag of talent. Their first official project was the original Strike Suit Zero, which was successfully funded through Kickstarter. The game, which released on PC January 2013, was met with generally favorable reviews (landing a 68 on Metacritic). After this, Born Ready put out Director’s Cut, which featured a year’s worth of upgraded lighting, graphics, and voice acting.
The story campaign, which has been largely revamped, is fairly barebones. While nothing is ever done poorly per se, I’m at a loss to know exactly what was ever going on. The main reason being that so much of the story is told through dialogue over radios while you are piloting the ship and fighting off enemies. While I am sure there is some rich war lore thrown in the mix, gamers will most likely miss this as they are dodging enemy missiles.
The heart of Strike Suit Zero: DC is the gameplay. I’ve never necessarily been good at the game, but the title was very accessible even to beginners. I started off playing on easy and within 15 minutes I had a solid grasp of everything from shooting missiles to warp driving.
Beyond the difficulty curve, the important distinction between this game and its dogfighting is the inclusion of Strike Suits. While the game offers a wide variety of ships and a wider variety of customization, the Strike Suit is easily the most impressive option. Half space mech, half transformer, the Strike Suit takes the difficulty out of shooting ships, allowing you to freeze and auto-target. This is easily the best part of the game, enabling players to kill hordes of other ships in a fraction of the time.
While the Strike Suit is easily the best part of the game, it also brings out the flaws. Strike Suit Zero: DC gives you access to the Strike Suit right at level two. However, the two or three subsequent levels that take the Suit away from you make playing the game seem like a chore. While most of the levels let the player their choice of ship, there are a few that don’t allow you to choose the Strike Suit. While this may be fine for those more interested in generic space-shooters, it often felt that Born Ready was taking out the most unique and fun aspect of the game.
Strike Suit Zero: DC offers a decent selection of environments and levels, nearly 20 including the expansion. The game should take no longer than 15 hours to complete, and any number of hours to master. For a $20 game, there is a lot of content.
Easily the best part of the game is the wonderful soundtrack. When you plan on playing a war game, you expect to hear heavy drums and fast-paced music. Strike Suit Zero takes a different approach, using entirely Middle Eastern inspired music to give one of the best listening experiences in video games ever. If you have a few minutes, take a second to listen to the soundtrack on YouTube to get an idea.
The Verdict: 7.5 out of 10
Strike Suit Zero: Director’s Cut is an ambitious Kickstarter project that is in many ways more successful than its crowd-funded brethren. Both beautiful and fun, the game takes some very interesting direction that allows the game to be more accessible. That being said, Strike Suit Zero is a game for people who like the genre. If you are a fan of Star Fox or Rogue Squadron, this game is for you. If not, consider jumping into it — it is only $19.99 after all.
Lou Contaldi is MONG’s Nintendo Specialist and senior editor. He also spends his time habitating a law school. You can follow his incoherent ramblings at Twitter.
This review is based off of the PS4 review copy provided by Born Ready. The reviewer spent 15+ hours with the game over the span of a week.