Space Combat makes a return to the console scene with Strike Suit Zero: Director’s Cut on the PS4. With more than a few nods to the PlayStation classic Colony Wars, does SSZ:DC invoke enough nostalgia to be a worthy purchase?
Game: Strike Suit Zero: Director’s Cut
Developer: Born Ready Games
Publisher: Born Ready Games
Reviewed on: PlayStation 4
The story for Strike Suit Zero is fairly straightforward stuff for a game focused around intergalactic warfare. The United Nations of Earth need to fight against the space colonies in order to yada, yada, yada. It ultimately peters out into an excuse to blow up some enemy ships with a combination of machine guns, lasers and missiles. The primary method of storytelling is via a series of radio transmissions that play out during the missions. It’s a slightly distracting way of telling what could be a promising narrative, but with a serious lack of cutscenes and other techniques to portray the fiction, it falls a little flat.
GRAPHICS AND SOUND
SSZ:DC certainly knows how to do scale well. The sky-boxes and general feeling of size and scope is enormous, and you always feel like you’re part of a much bigger battle, without shouldering the burden of being a one man army. The game runs smoothly, with no screen tearing coming to the fore, and only minor hits to frame rates when things get overly hectic. Ship designs are by and large fantastic, with weapon fire looking and sounding superb as it streams towards your foes in order to eliminate them.
The major problem I have with the audio is that the aforementioned audiolog-style storytelling sometimes gets lost if you’re in the middle of a heavy battle. This can be incredibly frustrating if you’re attempting to follow the plot, as the ability to follow what’s going on will prove nigh impossible with explosions and laser fire drowning out your commanding officers. Even with subtitles, you struggle to take your eyes off your enemies for even a second to catch up on what’s being asked of you.
The gameplay in SSZ has some really nice little hooks. It mixes the classic space navigation style gameplay of past games, and throws in the fantastic titular “Strike Suit”, a transformers-style “flying space robot” with plenty of maneuverability options and extra firepower. It has a definite competitive advantage to it, with an automatic targeting system that jumps from enemy to enemy, allowing you to rain laser-fuelled death to multiple foes by holding down 2 buttons. It’s not quite an “insta-win” button, but it will definitely help you out of some sticky situations. The Strike Suit is not permanent, however. You need to fill up your “Flux” bar, which you do by taking down colony ships.
Overall, the gameplay feels solid but extremely repetitive. There’s only so many times that you can get told to “destroy the enemy turrets” before it grates. There isn’t much more to the game than that and “Get rid of the waves of enemies that are flying in”. There’s not really enough variety to ensure that interest is held, and it does start to feel quite dull by the end of it. The Strike Suit certainly adds an extra layer to the proceedings but it’s not enough to hang the entire game on.
The main campaign in SSZ is long enough for the price, but the extra value compared to the initial PC release is in the form of the “Director’s Cut” content. The “Heroes of the Fleet” additional content re-enacts 5 of the “more heroic moments” from the ongoing conflict, and is worth a run through, if not just to prolong the length.
Strike Suit Zero: Director’s Cut is a game that’s been needed for a while, but doesn’t quite go far enough. The resurrection of the space combat genre on consoles is something that was needed for the duration of the PS3/360 era, and SSZ has done it with great style and visual flair for the new consoles. However, the repetitive nature of the missions and lack of variety tarnishes the game somewhat. Random difficulty spikes and poor checkpointing in some missions hamper the enjoyability even further.
A welcome addition to the next gen consoles, Strike Suit Zero: Director’s Cut falls short of being a must-buy. The last great space combat game for me was Star Wars: Jedi Starfighter, and SSZ definitely draws from things that made previous games in the genre feel great. The nostalgia factor certainly helps to make it feel welcome, but ultimately it feels a little flat when viewed as a whole. Here’s hoping that this jump-starts a new wave of games in the genre though, just with a bit more bite to them.Tweet this!