Wot I Think: Strike Suit Zero

By Nathan Grayson on January 24th, 2013 at 11:00 am.

What would you do if some malevolent genie offered you the choice between either a) a rip-roaring, physics-defying spaceship, or b) a star-destroying giant robot? I would cry. Born Ready, though, presumably encountered that exact situation and decided to create an alternate reality in which they got both. In Strike Suit Zero, you play as a ship that transforms into a giant robot. Take that, evil genie. But is it the dream come true it sounds like it should be? And can it carry an entire arcade space shooter on its cannon-coated shoulders? Here’s wot I think.

Midway through Strike Suit Zero, I found myself incredibly confused. I was screaming through the stars, dancing between neon blue light tangles that could’ve been the hair of some deceased angel. Me, though? I was a mechanical Viking god. Any time I shifted into Strike Suit mode, the galaxy trembled. My missiles overtook the black like crackling lightning, chains of explosions the thunder following in their wake. Stars and suns be damned; I shined brightest.

So then, why didn’t I feel like a total badass? Why – to be honest – were my eyelids starting to droop as I sat nestled in my attractive, exceedingly grown-up-friendly gamerly pillow fort?

That’s when I heard a voice. It was monotone. Business-like. Just like all the others. “Let’s take down that cruiser, then,” it muttered, radio static clinging like bored spittle to its words. “You’ll want to start with the flak cannons, just like usual.”

Just like usual. Because, in spite of an Epic Mission To Save Earth From Certain Doom, that’s what this had devolved into. My objective list then coughed out the exact number of flak cannons I’d need to dispose of to continue, and that’s when it hit me: I was playing an arcade space shooter with the mission design of a middle-of-the-road MMO. Go here, kill X number of these. While doing so, you can also destroy X number of this other enemy/object. Etc, etc, etc. Oh, but hey, at least Strike Suit Zero has escort missions.

OK, I’m being a bit mean. Let me step back and explain what Strike Suit Zero gets right, so as to punctuate my sorrow at the soaring shooter’s languid, often infuriating lows. See, it begins as a fairly standard – though undeniably stylish – arcade space to-do, but after a couple hours of uneventful opening missions, the Strike Suit joins the fray. Part-light-speed-leaping fighter jet, part-Transformer, it can nigh-instantaneously morph into a giant robot after dealing enough damage and putting some fuel in its Flux meter.

It’s in these moments – especially later in the game, when things have a tendency to become almost unfairly difficult – that the early, not particularly interesting bits get put in perspective. Where once a couple particularly dogged dogfighters could give me trouble, Strike Suit mode turns the tables and then hurls them into a black hole. Suddenly, 20 or more ships barely even register as a blip on the radar. One screen-filling death blender of missiles later, they’re just a charred downpour of space confetti.

It’s those moments of overtly anime-influenced empowerment that really make Strike Suit Zero. I’m special. I’m almighty. Bow before for me, for I am King of Space.

But it’s almost like developer Born Ready didn’t understand that. Or rather, if they did, they had no idea how to mold the rest of their systems around it. So instead of joystick-straining, edge-of-your-cockpit, similarly innuendo-laden battles for the ages, you get “kill 15 of X” chores atop utterly out-of-your-control escort missions. Both enemy and friendly AI’s rudimentary at best, so there’s no real threat that emerges from moment-to-moment combat. Rather, failure tends to arise from escort targets’ (usually massive capital ships) complete inability to defend themselves.

So, on one hand, I had this intoxicating, almost sensual connection with this amazing machine, but on the other, many of my actions felt entirely futile and constrained. Control was illusory. The end result was super frustrating – especially when dodgy checkpoints sent me hurtling back through both space and time to some tedious objective set I blazed through 20 minutes ago. Empowerment went right out the window – and into the infinite void of space where its eyeballs pop out of its head and it dies of explosive decompression.

Some of this could have been remedied if it were possible to give orders to other ships in my squadron, but sadly, no such option exists. Instead, friendly fighters just kind of flit around aimlessly in the background, occasionally even colliding head-on with your Strike Suit in a bizarrely bumper-car-like fashion. I suppose its a bit fitting, in its own way: I’m piloting a giant robot, and the other ships are utterly mechanical – piloted by smaller, incredibly dumb robots.

Other pieces of the puzzle don’t fit together particularly well either. Strike Suit mode, for instance, turns you from untouchable electric star cheetah to nigh-immobile mecha-sloth, and that leaves you incredibly vulnerable to attack. On paper, it’s nice to have the option to steady my aim and just tee off, but in practice, it meant all nearby weapons immediately opened fire on me, popping my shields in mere seconds. Again, though, so long as I morphed back into a fighter and rocketed away, I was never in any real danger. But that pattern created this monotonous rhythm of chipping away at bigger baddies while smaller ones, in turn, chipped away at me. So I’d leave, come back, leave, come back, and so on and so on until everyone died.

Meanwhile, hunting down the giant gnat-ball of annoyances that frequently buzzed around me was a largely futile pursuit due to a haphazard aiming system and no real indication – aside from what I could see with my own two eyes – of where exactly damage was coming from. Basically, I had to put Strike Suit mode’s missile barrage on clean-up duty. Otherwise, a rolling mass of enemy pea shooters would eventually be the death of me.

It should also be noted that, initially, the review version of Strike Suit Zero was barely even playable. Born Ready, however, chalked it up to a Steam update error, and – given that I’ve since had a smooth experience from start-to-finish – that appears to be all it was. So stability, at least, isn’t an issue here. At least, not anymore.

Unfortunately, Strike Suit Zero still largely fails to function as a game, and that’s arguably a far more egregious sin in the long run. Occasionally, it’ll suddenly produce these gleaming diamonds of pure glee from all the rough – like, oh man, amazing near-suicidal bombing runs on frigates that result in glorious, victorious explosions just when you think death is imminent, and you feel like you’re Luke Skywalker blowing up the goddamn Death Star – but they’re sandwiched between so much frustration. Honestly, it almost pains me to dislike the majority of Strike Suit Zero as much as I do. I adore what it’s attempting. I love the feeling of perfect, lightning-fast control it can create. Ultimately, though, the reality of Strike Suit Zero fails to match its own sky-high ambitions, and – for the most part – it just ends up being business as usual.

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133 Comments »

  1. Dark Acre Jack says:

    At least it got funded & released.

    • KikiJiki says:

      It was in a finished state before they kickstarted it, so frankly I’m dubious about what the money really went on given that Nathan seems to think it’s Not Very Good(TM).

      • Grygus says:

        Presumably it was used for business expenses. It’s only been two months since the kickstarter closed; how much of the money could have possibly gone into the game in that time?

        Most of the money received was from what amount to preorders (people paying up to $50 and receiving the game) so I guess I don’t see much of an obligation on the developer’s part to show where the money went. They are obligated to deliver a finished game, and they are obligated to deliver mod tools and versions for Mac/Linux. Beyond that, a patch or two and it seems like they would have matched most developers’ commitment to people who gave them money.

  2. BobbyDylan says:

    Yeah, I played the game at Eurogamer and got up to leave before my allored time was up. Says it all really.

    I still dont understand why a Robot in space needs arms and legs.

    • Anguy says:

      I did not realise how pointless it is after you pointed it out. But maybe they’re using those things on planetary missions as well?
      Same with wings on spaceships…

      • Luringen says:

        Wings are useful for entering atmospheres and mounting craploads of missiles on i guess. Don’t want all the explosives right below the cockpit!

        • RvLeshrac says:

          There are other forces in space – like coronal mass ejections – which wings would be useful for navigating through. Also, without them, you’re limited on space for manoeuvring thrusters, electronics packages, and other items one might want on a fighter.

        • Gnoupi says:

          I’d guess you don’t want the explosives easily targetable either, exposed under wings :P

          That’s how you carry explosives, tucked under your armor.

      • Phasma Felis says:

        Eh, if we’re gonna complain about “realistic” space fighter design, then that leads directly to “all space games must respect Newtonian physics”, and while that does sound like fun, I’m not going turn down a nice Star Wars-y bit of Battle-of-Britain-in-space.

        • Wisq says:

          And if we’re saying that “all space games must respect Newtonian physics”, then there aren’t any “space fighters” anyway, since there’s nothing to be gained by a big ship launching smaller craft.

          The sole exception is fictional drive technologies that become more efficient (and effective) as total mass decreases. For all its failings, at least the Honor Harrington series actually did this right.

          • Cuddlefish says:

            The one exception to that which comes to mind is if in one’s tactical picture of space combat (which is a thing we really don’t have clear answers on, given how much of it depends on relative weapon performance) there is a particular niche for high thrust, low impulse engines; whether that be low-orbital combat or something else. In that case, having some smaller, more specialized craft equipped with the burly, lossy rockets and your main ship mounting a much more sedate, efficient rig may be viable. It really depends on how your setting assumptions re: military weaponry, strategy and economics go.

            That being said, making those smaller craft fighter sized seems very iffy; and if so making them MANNED seems particularly unwise. If they were more, say, Millennium Falcon or PT Boat sized then having a small crew for command and control and maintenance tasks seems justifiable, even if there may be AI systems implementing the navigation and targeting orders given.

      • Wisq says:

        Wings are also useful because the further your manoeuvring thrusters are from your centre of mass, the more efficient they are.

        Granted, putting them out on struts works just as well, but doesn’t look as cool.

    • ChrisGWaine says:

      They have arms and legs because in space it’s not a question of if, but when you will need to compete in a dance off.

    • killuminati says:

      It’s the first thing I’ve remarked the first time I’ve heard of this game.
      I do not really understand that too. My guess is just because it’s cool so they added it. Guess if people tought that hamster fur ball were “kewl” as well.. they’ve put a space ship taht transform into a giant hamster-like furball..
      I’m baffled and TBH I knew it was oing to be bad..

      • Spengbab says:

        Because anime~. Anime ruins EVERYTHING.

        So, that’s both The Cave and Strike Suit out and reviewed, both coming up short. What’s next? Planetary Assault? I hope not, because that’s a game Im actually looking forward to. Notice how PA is not linked with either a named developer nor anime. It cannot be anything but amazing.

    • Drake Sigar says:

      Everyone knows wings make you go faster, much like painting flames on the side.

    • Jae Armstrong says:

      The first rule of mecha anime is: you do not ask “why mecha?”

      If it even occurs to you to ask, you’re never going to find an answer that satisfies.

      • TCM says:

        I cannot agree with this enough.

        If you at any point find yourself thinking “but wait, why bother with dextrous hands to hold swords”, or “oh come on, there’s no way that gun could telescope into that arm like that”, or “But why does it need to transform?”, you’re not the kind of person that Mechs are aimed at. I hate to say that, since Mechs are kinda my favorite thing, but Mechs really are a niche.

    • Steed says:

      Well, arms & legs could be handy if you’re going to ‘magna-lock’ onto a space ship and tear out its juicy human innards. Probably not something you can do in the game, but from a technical standpoint being able to traverse and interact with the ship in a human manner could be handy.

    • Joshua Northey says:

      Yeah maybe I am too much of a realist, but I never understood the attraction of the: “Here is a robot that weighs 40 tons, looks like a man, and is carrying 5000 tons of invisible missiles somehow” style of game/movie/etc. . It just never made sense to me. Looks cool at times, but it just way too many bridges too far to suspend disbelief.

      If you are going to do that why not just have unicorns impaling each other in jousts.

    • Kuraudo says:

      The way VOTOMS does it is because they’re basically massive power armored units that fight both in terrestrial environments and in space boarding operations.

      Gundam handles it by supposedly gaining better maneuverability to your maneuvering jets; the humanoid form supposedly is better suited to changing the maneuvering jets direction in a newtonian physics model. I’m not sure if that’s true, but at least it’s a reason.

      Gasaraki justified it because, well, it makes robots seem genuinely superior to tanks:

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m4b-haPATmI

      In this game… I guess the Thunder God Thor is pleased with mecha and so rewards you with more missiles and lasers and junk or something?

    • Snschl says:

      Well, try not to think of it as a robot but as a weapon platform with four struts that end in vectored-thrust nozzles; that’s a quite plausible design for space manoeuvrability. Let’s say it only looks humanoid because that makes it easier to control via brain-link or something. Either way, unless it needs to land on a planet, it’s no better than your standard airplane-shaped fighter. That’s arguably a much worse design – I mean, you can’t bank, so how are you changing your trajectory? They’d need to flip end-over-end whenever they wanted to turn.

  3. Wodge says:

    I had a quick bash at it earlier and it felt a bit like Darkstar One with the combat.

    I guess it gets my time as it’s the first thing that was actually released that I’ve backed on Kickstarter.

  4. Brosepholis says:

    So it tries and fails to be Macross. Can’t say I wasn’t expecting it.

    Cue dozens of RPS grognards complaining about how robots should be “stompy”, not “fey and Japanese”, blah blah blah blah….

    • Ravenholme says:

      Hey, I’m usually the first person to say Battletech esque war machines are far more plausible than the majority of japanese mecha, and I say that as a massive anime nerd.

      However, the exceptions I make are for the guy who designed the strike suit and also for the mechanical design of Ghost in the Shell, which are utterly fantastic.

      On to the review: I think Nathan is being overly unfair. I’ve been playing it, and I got farther than the midpoint battle he mentioned, but the “As usual” comment he mentions? Yeah, of course you get reminded to do that, because if not, the point defence of a capital ship will shred you and your allied bombers.

      (And right before it, there is an amazing moment of player agency where you can complete an optional objective by diving headlong into said capital ship’s point defence to take out it’s main anti-ship weapons to save a battered friendly frigate)

      • Brosepholis says:

        No giant robots are plausible, in any setting. A tank of the same weight and cost as a mecha will always beat the mecha, because the tank is more compact and simple.

        At least in anime there is usually an explanation built in at the lore stage (Minovsky particles, black technology, and so on). In western media they just make the robots look ugly and expect you to associate that with realism.

        • Ravenholme says:

          More plausible does not equal plausible, it just means on a relative sliding scale of plausability I find the sturdy, rugged designs of Battletech mechs to be something that if someone were to actually build them, they would end up looking like.

          • mckertis says:

            Yes, the problem with Battletech mechs is they are not needed in Battletech universe. There is no point to them. WHereas something like UC Gundam operates entirely on Minovsky physics, that makes giant mechs both possible AND viable weapons.

          • Wisq says:

            I think the point here is that if battletech mechs are depicted as being more powerful than battletech tanks, then battletech is implausible and unrealistic. I.e. that either there is some undocumented “magic” technology that makes mechs better, or that nobody’s ever really bothered to design a decent tank.

            Doesn’t mean nobody’s allowed to enjoy it, but that doesn’t make it plausible.

        • internisus says:

          For plausible giant robots, see Patlabor.

          • Jekhar says:

            It’s been some time since i watched Patlabor, but i can still remember two things very clearly: Open (as in cabrio) cockpits and a giant revolver that has to be reloaded manually by the pilot. From the side of the mech. I always found that to be a stupid design. The military mechs in the intro of the second movie were quite nice, on the other hand. Didn’t stop them from getting slaughtered by standard army hardware though.

          • Brosepholis says:

            While I agree Patlabor is more plausible than most, it mostly achieves this plausibility by hanging huge lanterns on how crappy a real giant robot would be. There’s also no real explanation as to why Labors became the dominant construction vehicle in Tokyo as opposed to, you know, cranes and trucks and stuff.

          • mckertis says:

            There is nothing plausible about Patlabor.
            The only use you could get from a giant humanoid robot in a realistic modern-ish environment, is a means of instilling terror during a war, as humanoid shapes are personified in our minds. Its shit for every other use you can think of.

          • Snargelfargen says:

            Patlabor has plausible police incompetence and underfunding. Not so sure about the robots.

          • Baines says:

            I figure the police mechs had stuff like the giant revolvers because they were designed to emulate human police officers. They also had shotguns and riot shields.

            Police could theoretically carry over their regular training to Patlabors, from how to enter a building to how to use and maintain their gun. PR was also a big deal; the police had a reason to try to make the public see Patlabors as giant cops rather than city smashing war machines. And they didn’t particularly want people thinking “made for war” military.

            But no, Patlabor still wasn’t plausible, even if it sometimes applied more realistic logic to some aspects. (No flying labors, excepting the Griffon. Justifying their presence by making them civilian construction machines, which in turn justifies the cop version to police labor-related crime. Playing up the whole PR issue, safety concerns, and general destruction.)

  5. DrAmateurScience says:

    Sounds like it maybe needed a longer beta/fresh eyes on it.

    Most of the issues don’t sound too difficult to tweak (says the man with no idea how to code). I wonder if they will?

    • Gap Gen says:

      Yeah, it looks amazing, but like you say it’s a case of balancing until the game is fun to play.

    • Lambchops says:

      Hey Mr Science, I notice the Dr in your name, if that’s because of finishing a PhD then well done sir! Just watch you don’t get done by trading standards for claiming to be an amateur.

      • Llewyn says:

        His PhD is in 15th century French literature*. The whole science thing is still a hobby.

        *It isn’t really**.
        **I assume.

    • xGryfter says:

      The beta was a joke. They ignored pretty much all feedback except for what would be considered a few minor, and easily fixable things.

      It feels to me like they knew their game was forgettably average at best so they spent all their money on the Homeworld composer so they could ride the coat tails of his and that games popularity through to a successful Kickstarter. Drop a few more popular names like X-Wing and Freespace and you’re good to go, even though your game shares very little game play similarities with the name dropped games, no one would know until it’s too late.

      Hopefully the mod tools will be good enough so that the community can fix all of Born Ready’s numerous shortcomings.

  6. WMain00 says:

    Fair enough. I’m enjoying it and I would implore people to give it a chance. It might not quite be the shining jewel in the crown of space sims, but it’s a good attempt and at least breathes new life into a genre that has long needed it.

    • KikiJiki says:

      Out of sheer interest, what does it provide that say, Dynasty Warriors Gundam doesn’t?

      • WMain00 says:

        Well for starters it’s in space.

      • Ravenholme says:

        PC, for one.

        And having never played Dynasty Warriors Gundam, I can’t really comment further.

      • Crimsoneer says:

        It’s not really that type of game. It’s closer to Freespace. If you’re playing without a Joystick, you’re really doing it wrong.

      • Zanchito says:

        Holy crap, is there such a thing as a Dinasty Warriors GODDAM GUNDAM on the PC?!?! (And is it any good at all? I loved Warriors Orochi, but tried the other one on PC, I think it was DW6, and it didn’t do much for me).

        • TCM says:

          Sadly, there is no PC version of the Dynasty Warriors Gundam series.

          I enjoyed DWG3, but it was incredibly silly, given how your list of friends and foes for any given mission is semi-random from a list — so you’ll wind up fighting CCA Char at the same time as 0079 Kai, or something equally silly.

        • Baines says:

          DW6 wasn’t any better on console. Koei made some bad design decisions with that game.

      • TCM says:

        The fact it’s in an entirely different genre, with entirely different mechanics and conventions.

        And the hack and slash genre has never died, the good ol’ space shooter definitely has been on life support.

    • IRiver says:

      This. Though generally I really don’t care about reviews when it comes to purchase a game…

      Not that I don’t like RPS, no I think they’re the best PC-only site on the internetz, but still, they won’t tell me which game I have (should) to or don’t have to buy. I like reading their thoughts about different subjects, and I think their” WOT I Thinks’” are well constructed (I’m not talking about whether I agree with them or not) and written.

      P.S: The eurogamer “review” (3/10) about this game was a joke. That guy seemed a complete nOOb, someone who never played any space arcade/sim in his whole life. That was a pain read. But what should i expect from them anyway….? Anyone remember their Dreamfall 5/10 review? WARG, I hate them since then…

  7. RoAE says:

    the frustration of the mission design is definitely the main problem with the game. There is always this sense of urgency, which is good, but then it hits you with destroy these 3 capital ships, while defending you carrier and oh ya if you lose your bomber squadron you fail. This creates a lot of skipping the intended mission design and racing to destroy stuff your self in order to get past parts. I want to love this game because the presentation is just amazing, but it just sits at average.

  8. Crimsoneer says:

    I found what it hugely lacked compared to, say, Freespace 2 or Starlancer, was the feeling that you were actually in a war, or part of some greater effort. The voice actors just sounded so damn stodgy.

  9. Dominic White says:

    Gameplay footage of this always made me wonder why I’m the only person on earth who remembers Project Sylpheed on the 360.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4wLSQ7cwVWk

    It already did that whole ‘anime excess + space combat’ deal, and it’s surprisingly complex, too. Not only that, but your power progression continues through the entire game. By the final missions you’re a ridiculous missile-spewing demigod, and then New Game+ mode begins and you’re expected to turn it into a full-blown power fantasy. There’s hidden objectives and dialogue for when, in an early mission (for instance), you destroy the entire enemy fleet instead of your usual dogfight skirmishing.

    It’s about £4 second-hand on the 360.

    • Hanban says:

      I remember Project Sylpheed! It was pretty great!

      I particularly remember toward the end when you got hold of the really big weapons. I have a vague memory of one of the later missions where two fleets start opposing each other and you’re supposed to speed through the space in between them to attack. In this mission you could for the first time use some kind of point-singularity cannon (or whatever it was) which when fired basically just tore holes through capital ships. I also remember that if you fired it and friendlies were in the general field of fire they would just explode. It did BIG very well!

      • Dominic White says:

        The Singularity Cannon is one of the most glorious superweapons I’ve ever used in a game. At the start of the campaign, you can barely put a dent in a frigate’s shields. By the last couple of missions, you’re lugging around a cannon more than twice the size of your fighter itself, and a single shot is capable of tearing an enemy cruiser clean in two.

        And not only did they let you use it pretty much constantly, but they REWARD you for going back to earlier missions can going completely nuts with it. I get the feeling that Strike Suit Zero is missing a trick by not letting you escalate things to that level.

        Naturally, Project Sylpheed got terrible reviews and was immediately forgotten by everyone.

    • tungstenHead says:

      I was wanting to point this out. Even the storylines are really similar. Colonial rebel’s superweapon pointed at Earth. Special spaceship to defend Earth. It’s been a while since my Xbox died so I can barely remember it, but I remember Project Sylpheed as being more fleshed out.

    • Hulk Handsome says:

      But… but I don’t see any mechs! :(

      Strike Suit Zero always reminded me of Omega Boost on the PSX.

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tHkBRmxrZ4s

      • Moraven says:

        Great game, if they just had copied that I would be sold.

      • Baines says:

        Strangely enough, after watching the Omega Boost video, I want to go back and play PN03 on the Gamecube. Which is not a mech game or a space game. Maybe it was the music, or the rhythm to the attacks.

        (The SSZ review itself made me want to play the first Armored Core on the PS1 again. Unfortunately, I tried that a year or two ago, and found it nearly unplayable now that I’m used to dual analog controls.)

  10. DK says:

    I called it.
    When they released the first gameplay trailer I wrote the gameplay looked stale and boring. Pretty with no depth and no oomph.

    People said “oh no, that’s just early, they’ll fix that”, like they always do. Guess what – that stuff is never fixed – but you’re a pessimist is you don’t hope against all preceding history that this time it’ll be different.

  11. zeroskill says:

    It’s something I will pick up at some point down the line, on a steam deal most likely. It looks ok-ish, and I don’t mind hard games. I’m not the kind of person that easily gets frustrated by unfair gameplay mechanics.

    Btw: This eurogamer review is nothing short of hysterical. My god. Reminds me of why I almost never read Eurogamer unless I’m desperate for gaming news:

    http://www.eurogamer.net/articles/2013-01-23-strike-suit-zero-review

    • bill says:

      You realise that Rich Stanton has written some articles for RPS, and that RPS writers do reviews for Eurogamer. Right?

      • zeroskill says:

        And I should care why exactly? It’s a bad review, badly written, and reminds me exactly why I don’t read Eurogamer.

        Articles on Rock Paper Shotgun tend to be of much higher quality, and express more balanced opinions. Most of the time .

        • IRiver says:

          Agreed. Eurogamer is a complete joke in itself. And I couldn’t care less whether their staff is in a close relationship with RPS or not. Not just because of this one review though.

    • internisus says:

      I read that review yesterday and find nothing laughable about it. Some people seem eager to dismiss it as a case of the reviewer being too poorly skilled at the game to enjoy it, but I’ve seen enough middling and unfavorable reviews of SSZ by now that I’m confident it is the game which is weak rather than Eurogamer’s methodology.

      • Guvornator says:

        I have to say he mentions all of the same issues Nathan does above, only more angrily. So basically it’s the review if John had wrote it. ;)

      • zeroskill says:

        A grown man acting like a 14 year old teenager that gets angry at a video game is not laughable to you? To me yes, it is hysterical.

        Not to mention that he, as a professional reviewer should at least try to have a non bias’d opinion about the subject he writes. Yes, the criticism of the game is welcome, that’s why we read those things, and I can accept that teenagers legitly “hate” a video game, as silly as that might sound, but not from somebody who calls himself a professional journalist. Come on. This isn’t kinder garden.

        When I read a review, I enjoy reading something that is articulated in an acceptable way, since we are talking about people who make money with what they do:

        Something like “Unfortunately, Strike Suit Zero still largely fails to function as a game.” and not something like: “I wouldn’t give Strike Suit Zero to my dog – and he can’t even play video games.”, when you review the work of people who have obviously put quite some work into their game.

        Maybe the Eurogamer readerbase thinks this is witty and/or funny. I do not. And that is why I don’t read Eurogamer.

        • strangeloup says:

          I read your first two sentences in a Russian accent which somehow improved matters. I blame this on currently going through Neal Stephenson’s REAMDE (which has a number of Russian characters), and of course TF2′s lovable shaved bear that hates people, the Heavy.

      • Droniac says:

        To be fair the Eurogamer reviewer said he failed something like 20 times on the final portion of mission three. That does require a severe lack of skill. I hadn’t played a game with a joystick for years and was still stuck in a permanent barrel roll maneuver by the time that part of the mission occurred and even so I still cleared it easily on the second go, when I learned not to ignore the torpedoes.

        Two of his main complaints are complete non-issues in the final game: crashes and poor performance. The checkpoints are in part an issue (they’re not always frequent enough), but they also make things easier when you die: you spawn with full armor and ammo, as well as all friendlies set to full health. And in the comments on the Eurogamer review a developer from BornReadyGames responded that mid-game saving is coming in a future patch.

        As to mech mode missile targeting being finicky: it isn’t. It’s awesome and super easy to just wave your targeting reticle over everything in sight, release your missiles, and watch everything explode. And that’s with a joystick, which makes targeting more difficult.

        Similarly his complaints about missile trajectories and mech mode machine gun are unreasonable. The former is a matter of skill, not an issue of game design: you need to have the right trajectory so that the missile doesn’t overshoot, or you can move closer to the target, or you can simply fire 4 missiles and lock onto a new target. The latter is again based on a lack of skill, when used correctly the machine gun absolutely destroys fighters and turrets – and is often essential for hitting high scores in missions.

        So while it isn’t laughable, if anything it’s sad, the Eurogamer review is definitely not accurate. It’s heavily colored by frustration, which clearly made him see even the good bits as bad.

        Nathan’s review is much closer to the mark, although I’d take a more positive stance in light of the great unlocks you get throughout the campaign. Playing through it again with a souped-up strike fighter (you can choose which fighter / bomber you want to use for missions after finishing the campaign once) and the railgun is quite a lot of fun. It provides more of that all-powerful-destroyer-of-everything-in-sight trip and less of the repetition, because you blast through things so much more quickly.

  12. Javier says:

    The screens kinda remind me of Omega Boost. If it plays the same I’m sold.

    • strangeloup says:

      It pleases me SO MUCH that people remember Omega Boost. I picked it up second-hand a fair bit after its time — as I have a bit of a penchant for collecting PS1 games, particularly anything unusual — and enjoyed it a great deal.

      Between this and getting reminded of Fade to Black on the story about the Flashback remake, I think I need to go unearth some of my good old PS1 titles.

  13. Mordsung says:

    Strike Suit Zero makes me feel much the same way the new Xcom did.

    They are both very flawed games with gems of greatness that scratch an itch no one else is scratching.

    • TCM says:

      I dunno, I think you’re not looking hard enough if you can’t find scratches for those itches.

      On the tactical side, you have games like Fire Emblem with similar penalties for losing men, or Front Mission with similar levels of detail in its modelling.

      On the Strike Suit Zero side, I’d strongly recommend checking out the Zone of the Enders series, though it is purely focused on the mech side of things and making you feel like an overpowered god of lasers and weaponry.

      • Crimsoneer says:

        ZoE was released a decade ago. You kind of just proved his point :P

      • Mordsung says:

        Japanese art style is like venom to my eyes. Never have been able to play them.

        And those games still aren’t what Xcom was.

        Xcom was slow, crawling, terrifying strategy. One stray bullet could drop a man, one mistake could wipe a squad. Bullets came out of the fog of war and you had no idea who or what was firing them

        The new one missed a lot of that stuff.

        Japanese tactics games never go in that direction, they’re a lot flashier, or with giant mechs stumbling around.

        And I played the ZoE games back when I still did the whole console thing, they were alright.

        The itch SSZ is scratching is not the mech itch, it’s the space combat itch. I try to avoid using the suit as much as I can and stay in fighter mode, way more interesting.

        I loathe Japanese mecha, I prefer MechWarrior’s multi-ton behemoths.

  14. Jae Armstrong says:

    By the by, the soundtrack for this (by Paul motherfucking Ruskay) is amazing, and is available on Steam as a separate purchase.

    • Prime says:

      “[The soundtrack is] Downloadable Content
      Requires the base game Strike Suit Zero on Steam in order to play.”

      Define “separate purchase”. Oh, and Fuck You, Steam. I’m not buying a game I don’t want just for the privilege of being allowed to listen to its soundtrack.

      NB: SSZ is DRM-free on GOG but without the soundtrack. :(

  15. TCM says:

    Nathan, let me say that I disagree with your opinion on the game, but I respect your reasons for having it.

    I do want to say i think you overestimate the difficulty of escort missions — it’s possible to clear entire waves of torpedos with a Strike Suit Itano Circus, and beam cannons are easy targets on enemy cruisers most of the time.

    Also, you at least didn’t have the incredible gall of the Eurogamer reviewer to review in frustration and anger, with much wailing and gnashing of teeth about how it’s a well done game but JUST TOO HAAAAAAAAAAAAARD.

    • Moraven says:

      Dark Souls is hard but you don’t see every reviewer negatively mentioning it.

      When you have to replay the same 20 minutes 10-20 times, you will easily get frustrated. Unless you pull it off perfectly with no leeway…

      • Guvornator says:

        Exactly. Hard because hard is fine. Hard because stupid/ill thought out/pernickety isn’t.

      • strangeloup says:

        I’m confused — though potentially misreading — by the implication that Dark Souls doesn’t require you to repeat 10-20 minute sections again and again. I think that was what killed it for me, honestly; I spent about 80 hours (I think) on the original 360 version, and despite picking up the PC version for a good price I’ve not bothered to play for more than another couple of hours, and probably won’t.

        I digress, though. Untouchable electric star cheetah.

        • Fyce says:

          Strike Suit Zero and Dark Souls difficulties have absolutly nothing in common.

          The difficulty of Dark Souls is mostly based on the knowledge you have of the game. It doesn’t require you to have crazy fingers dancing around your gamepad. You also don’t need a good reaction time, nor very good reflexes (it can help, but you can manage to get over the challenges by being simply “average” in those categories).
          An average skilled player can manage to beat Dark Souls just by knowing what will happens next, what are the attacks of those creepy monsters, knowing the items location and game mecanics and that’s about it.
          So, if you go blind in Dark Souls, you’ll die until you kind of “figure it out”.

          Strike Suit Zero, on the other hand, isn’t about knowledge. It’s about actual skills, reflexes and reaction time. You also need to be able to prioritize your targets and to constantly be aware of you surroundings (as opposed to Dark Souls, when instead of being constantly aware, you just need to “know” passively).
          In the end, this game is hard because it punishes you for being a bad pilot. Not because you don’t know the game. It’s fast, it’s unforgiving and you have to consider a lot of things at the same time.

          In my opinion, that kind of difficulty is completly fine if you know what you’re getting yourself into. It’s just a matter of being good or bad at the game. Since it’s hard, average players can really be challenged and get mad because they can’t reach the skill ceiling requiered.

          • Apocalypse says:

            Have they patched the game to become incredible easy or why so many reviews and people complained about “frustrating gameplay”. I can´t complain about this, besides that some missions, like the last one were far to easy once you managed the strike mode as new game element.

  16. bill says:

    Never really liked arcade space sims. Space sims yes. Arcade shooters yes. These always seem like the worst of both worlds.

    It’s a same that they seem to have spent most of the effort on shiny graphics, rather than updating things like mission design and ai.

    I really hope all the other upcoming kickstarted space sims don’t do the same thing.

    • xGryfter says:

      The graphics aren’t really that great. The backgrounds are pretty but they are also completely static. The textures,effects and models are closer to that of a portable game rather than one designed for a PC. The good news is that it will run on almost anything and will be a good game to show off the Oculus Rift because you won’t need an SLI machine to run it at a solid frame rate in 3D.

      A lot of things were brought up in the beta, unfortunately they were all pretty much ignored.

  17. bill says:

    It’s interesting how being on kickstarter has made it’s backers much more defensive of it than they might otherwise be.

    • TCM says:

      I didn’t back the kickstarter.

      I only found the game a couple weeks back.

      Bought it on release, not disappointed with that purchase.

      It’s flawed, yes, but also very, very worth playing.

    • abandonhope says:

      Not really. A lot of backers are hammering Born Ready over release sale discounts that amount to backers paying more for the game two months ago than people are paying now. They aren’t in a friendly, defensive mood.

      I backed it, and I don’t find myself particularly invested in its being good. I posted two lengthy, fairly critical posts over on the forum. The reviews here and at Eurogamer mostly mirror my experience. However, not being a reviewer, I’m not constrained by time and obligation, and I get the sense that there may be something to SSZ that deserves players to come to it.

      Part of the game is 100% recognizable if you’ve played any major space sim (Freespace 2, Freelancer), and not hard. The other part is, to me at least, kind of console-arcadey and foreign. Transitioning between them adds another unfamiliar mechanic. I absolutely sucked when I first got the suit, and I blame the dev for not showing me, Valve-style, exactly how it made me more powerful. After a few hours of frustration, I figured it out, and I’m encouraged that there actually is something to figure out.

      And that’s where I am. Mission 5, hoping I can apply what I’ve learned and actually be better. As for Eurogamer, I can’t imagine publishing a review after playing less than a quarter of a game. The end of mission 3 was frustrating, and pretty badly designed. But it wasn’t impossible.

      • Droniac says:

        Actually the Eurogamer reviewer played a lot more than just up to mission 3. One of his screenshots is from mission 12 – The Gauntlet. It’s just that mission 3′s final segment punishes you the hardest for ignoring torpedoes, probably because that’s when they introduce you to prioritizing targets and not ignoring torpedoes. Later missions are somewhat less punishing on keeping-friendly-frigate-save, but a lot more punishing on swiftly-accomplish-objectives.

        You’re on mission 5 and have been having issues? Good luck, you’ll need it for the next few missions. Don’t get too hung up on bonus objectives – many of them are designed for when you’ve finished the game and are a lot more powerful, particularly in missions 6-10.

  18. MeestaNob says:

    Based on what I saw early on, not surprised but disappointed. Same with The Cave actually.

    2013 is off to a shaky start.

  19. corinoco says:

    Sorry, never liked giant robot things. Show me a Battlemech and I’ll show you an AH64 lurking behind a hill lobbing wire-guided death at it, while a C130 Spectre loiters and pounds it to tinfoil confetti with discarding sabot depleted uranium garden stakes.

    Giant robots In Space? Giant target flailing about with ‘nuke me’ painted on its arse.

    If the other famous space sims being starterkicked end up like this I shall write a sternly worded letter to the editor, then go sit in a dark room watching ‘Blake’s7′ as tears roll down my cheeks.

    • mckertis says:

      “Giant robots In Space? Giant target flailing about with ‘nuke me’ painted on its arse.”

      Same with any spaceship in any game ever. Technically, people dont realise that spaceship battles are impossible in reality, they are too easy to detect at astronomically large distances, therefore it will never reach the slugfest kind of battle we all love to see.

      • TCM says:

        Fire railguns from miles away.

        • zaygr says:

          Self-propelling munitions from light-seconds away.

          • theallmightybob says:

            a laser with a proper lens could be used at light second ranges. if you have FTL drives involved and you can make them small enough you can strike people with a missle from light days away if you know were they are.

            without shields or an unrealistic materials breakthrough though, any space war would likely all be one shot one kill, no long drawn out battles. right now all it takes is a loose bolt orbiting the earth at a good clip to take out the shuttle.

  20. caddyB says:

    Obligatory post about how FreeSpace made escort missions fun

  21. Llewyn says:

    Does that thing have an attachment for a pallet fork?

  22. Valerius Maximus says:

    You forgot to mention how amazing the soundtrack is and how pretty the backdrops are.

  23. Moraven says:

    Robotech Battlecry did transformations right. Just need to use that.

  24. radishlaw says:

    Luckily one of the stretch goals of the kickstarter is “mod tools”: “XedMod will allow you to add and modify game assets such as ships, textures, materials, missions (using Lua scripting), sound effects, music, dialogue, and the overall campaign structure.” So I am guess even if the missions are not as good as, say , Freespace 2, we can expect some modders to give us better missions down the road.

    • FhnuZoag says:

      Has this ever actually happened with a real game?

      Relying on modders to make a game interesting seems like a forlorn hope to me.

      • TCM says:

        CK2 Game of Thrones and CK2+ mods, Baldur’s Gate 1 NPC Project, Floris Pack for Mount and Blade, any given thing that isn’t perverted or broken on the elder scrolls nexus, countless total war mods, KOTOR 2 Restoration project, Freespace Source Code project [though admittedly not a mod], Fall from Heaven and Rhye’s and Fall of Civ for Civ IV, need I go on?

      • Shooop says:

        Skyrim.

      • johnki says:

        Dark Souls. Nuff said.

      • Ravenholme says:

        Freespace 2, actually.

        Don’t believe me? Go play the Source Code project, the remake of Freespace 1 Silent Threat (Silent Threat: Reborn), go play Derelict, Blue Planet, any number of mods.

  25. j1yeon says:

    Maybe I’m wrong, but it just sounds like the type of game that you need to actually know how to play well to complete it, rather than just drifting along occasionally using some of the game’s mechanics and managing to fumble one’s way through the campaign.

    This sounds like a good thing, and the game isn’t very expensive, so.. I’ll give it a shot.

  26. Lemming says:

    Can I just ask: What requirement is there for a gunship to transform into a giant robot in space? How does a humanoid form help in any way in space?

    At least on Earth you could cobble together an argument of sorts for human-like control in a human-centric environment, but tell what difference would it make if you you turned in a giant robot dog? Or giant robot Cornish Pasty? It’s just a gun platform with a rocket on the end isn’t it?

  27. johnki says:

    I’m pretty much convinced that none of the reviewers ever played Star Fox. Or Star Wars: Battle for Naboo. Or Star Wars: Starfighter. Or Star Wars: Rogue Squadron.

    Wow, that’s a lot of similar games in the Star Wars franchise.

    But anyways, yeah. Having grown up on those games, I’m looking forward to getting to sit down and play this. :D

  28. MrNash says:

    As much as I’d like to, I’m not really getting into the game either. It’s just very stale with its clinical mission objectives. I was hoping this would be a spiritual successor to Omega Boost, but it’s not. =(

  29. Worm says:

    I was playing an arcade space shooter with the mission design of a middle-of-the-road MMO. Go here, kill X number of these. While doing so, you can also destroy X number of this other enemy/object. Etc, etc, etc. Oh, but hey, at least Strike Suit Zero has escort missions.

    I asked this over in the Eurogamer comments and I’ll ask here, what the fuck else can you do in a arcadey space shooter BUT destroy enemy fighters, outposts, and protect your own ships? You wanted more exploration based combat, perhaps the ability to launch probes at unexplored planets?

    It’s ridiculous to see you idiots set some kind of narrative by issuing complaints that don’t even make sense.

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