Format – Xbox One
Last year the space combat genre got a bit of a regeneration with the release of the crowd-funded zero-g dogfight simulator Strike Suit Zero on the PC. The game wowed critics (including myself) with its fast action, interesting ship design, balls to the wall action, and visuals that occasionally resembled a fireworks display.
The love is now being spread to the newest generation of consoles with the release of Strike Suit Zero: Director’s Cut, releasing simultaneously on both Xbox One and PS4 and acting as the first ID@Xbox game to hit the Xbox One Marketplace. It’s not the same game we played back in 2013, with levels being cut up, moved around, and changed internally. The purpose of these changes appears to be to intensify the action and keep up the pace.
It’s a success in that regard – the campaign certainly feels faster paced and you’re thrown into the action much faster than with the original release, but it feels strange, as someone who played and enjoyed the original, to come back and find things swapped round and flipped upside down.
At its core Strike Suit Zero is about whizzing through the great black emptiness shredding up any poor fool who dares get in your way. As the sole recipient of the titular Strike Suit fighter, you play an instrumental role in every conflict you take part in. This is not a game where you take a small part in a much larger scheme, but a game where you are the only one who can really achieve anything. You’ll spend the game babysitting your peers and it can feel a tad tiresome being yelled at repeatedly to spend all your time shooting down torpedoes when you could be doing all the aforementioned ship-shredding.
Thankfully Strike Suit Zero does let you cut loose every now and then when it tells you to shoot bad guys, and you’ll find yourself slaughtering your foes left right and centre. Yet the game is still very challenging. That could be down to solid balancing in terms of ship damage, but the game’s enemies who refuse to target anyone but the player could be another culprit. It’s possibly a mixture of the two, but because of the all the single-minded player pursuing it can feel a bit on the unfair side.
This mixed with the rigidity by which you must stick to the missions you’re given can make it feel a little bit like SSZ is choking you. There’s very little freedom to kick around in open space and just look at stuff. Take your eye off the prize for even a second and you’re likely to get all your mates murdered. Never is this more frustrating than during one of the larger battles with capital ships raining fire down upon one another. In these situations a second’s hesitation can result in the destruction of your capital ships and a clear mission failure. How the Colonial bad guys aren’t in charge of the entire universe yet is beyond me, when their biggest enemies seem to construct their space-faring vehicles out of crackers and string.
It feels like the game itself is a little choked too, and by the story of all things. Here we have a convoluted and confusing plot that really doesn’t make a whole load of sense. But it’s filler, it’s an excuse to let you shoot stuff and it serves this purpose well. Thankfully the game’s frustrating enough that you likely won’t need any narrative reasoning to hate the colonists – they do keep blasting you out of the sky, after all.
Areas for improvement
- Enemy AI has it in for the player
- There’s no time to drink in the game’s universe
Anyone who’s been looking for an experience along the lines of Wing Commander or Homeworld will want to give this game a look. Others may want to use more caution as the game can be extremely frustrating at times and is decidedly unforgiving. If you’re looking to fill the sky with missiles and rain death down upon your foes in a breathless, fast-paced space-sim, and don’t mind getting your backside handed to you from time to time, then this is the game for you.
Technical Competency – 8.5
Graphics/Sound Quality – 8.5
Network Stability – N/A
Overall – 8.5/10