Strike Suit Zero & Strike Suit Infinity
So damn pretty.
Strike Suit Zero and it’s sister game, Strike Suit Infinity hold a special place in my heart: they’re the titles that got me back into gaming. It’s 2014: I had barely played a videogame in four years, partly due to the fact that space games were very few and far between. Hoping that had changed while I impatiently waited for Homeworld: Remastered, I decided to install Steam and see what I could find, and find I did: an amazing title, that, even on first glance I could tell was inspired by some of my favorite games from the late 90’s. It was gorgeous, it had an amazing soundtrack by Paul Ruskay, and it was a space sim. I immediately bought it. “It” was Strike Suit Zero.
A Space Sim For Everyone
All of the fun, none of the hassle
The Strike Suit series, comprised of Strike Suit Zero, Strike Suit Infinity, and Strike Suit Zero: Director’s Cut were made by a small studio based out of the UK, Born Ready Games (now Edge Case Games) with funding they raised via Kickstarter in 2012. And wow, did they use those funds to make a truly fantastic set of games! Strike Suit Zero is a single player space sim with gorgeous, Homeworld-inspired cutscenes, an excellent and unique storyline, and an amazing soundtrack by Paul Ruskay that’s available for PC, Mac, XBox One and PS4. Strike Suit Infinity is an ‘arcade style’ space sim with no storyline featuring wave after wave (think Gauntlet mode in Freespace 2) of enemy ships that increase in difficulty each round.
While all of the Strike Suit games are space sims, they aren’t the hyper-realistic space sims you’re probably familiar with (unlike Freespace 2, or Star Citizen for example) – I’d call them ‘lite’ or ‘arcade’ style space sims because they’re much more friendly to casual gamers like myself. For example, you’ll only need about ~10 hotkeys, compared to Freespace‘s ~40. If you have use/love a HOTAS setup, the games might be too simplistic for you (although it will support it), but if you want to fly a space fighter with a mouse without a learning curve the size of a capital ship, go buy Strike Suit right now. All three games also feature an excellent and fun tutorial (easily one of the best I’ve seen) that brings you up to speed and gets you in the action in just a few minutes.
Each mission is set on breathtaking backdrop that pulls you in, making you feel as though you’re really piloting a fighter in space. Inspired by the Homeworld series, the artists behind SSZ have build gorgeous nebulas, planets, and stars. I eagerly anticipated each new mission just for the eyecandy!
For those of you that, you know, actually want to play the game rather than just look at it, you’ll be flying one of four ships (five, if you include the DLC) in a variety of missions, often with multiple objectives. Missions can also change wildly and suddenly: one minute your objective is to escort a freighter, then suddenly you’re fighting off interceptors and pulled into a plot to save Earth. Each mission also includes several awesome in-game cutscenes, and mission objectives, battle chatter, and updates are delivered via HUD videos that feature excellent voice acting. Ships include a fighter, interceptor, bomber, and two different Strike Suits (more on the Strike Suit below).
One aspect of Strike Suit Zero that’s been contentious is the checkpoint system: you can’t save the game whenever you feel like it, instead, it’s saved automatically at various checkpoints. Sometimes these checkpoints are few and far between, and it’s not fun being minutes from finishing a checkpoint objective and then getting blown up. That being said, I feel that the checkpoint system is far superior to being able to save at any time because it increases immersion: you really want to do your best so you live until you reach the next checkpoint. I feel that games where I can save at anytime remove a bit of the ‘want’ factor and immersion because I know that if I die, I can always just start over from my last save. I feel that the checkpoint system is the perfect balance between too hard and too easy for the casual player like myself. Strike Suit Zero: Director’s Cut compromises by having more checkpoints spaced closer together.
Strike Suit Infinity, Strike Suit Zero or Strike Suit Zero: Director’s Cut?
It’s a bit confusing at first, isn’t it? Let me break it down:
Strike Suit Zero: this is the original game, released in January 2013. A single-player space sim shooter with gorgeous visuals and cutscenes, great voice acting, and a neat story that’s simply a ton of fun to play, view, and listen to. The last mission is pretty tough, though.
Strike Suit Infinity: released a few months later, SSI is no story, all action. After each ‘wave’ (each being more difficult than the previous) you visit the hangar to upgrade your ship and to purchase and/or upgrade NPC ally ships with credits earned based upon your performance in the previous wave. You’ll also have ‘bonus rounds’ where you can pad your score and in-game your wallet. Includes an online leaderboard so you can show off your skillz!
Strike Suit Zero Director’s Cut: released a year after the original SSZ, the Director’s Cut includes the Heroes of the Fleet DLC, various graphical updates (FoV, shadows, and color additions and/or tweaks), the aforementioned checkpoint additions, and a completely reworked story sequence. Also, the last mission is easier, more in line with the rest of the game’s difficulty.
So, which should you buy? Go with the Director’s Cut – it nets you almost all the DLC’s excluding the soundtrack and prettier visuals for the same price. If you like it and want more combat, grab SSI as well. For $6.99, it’s well worth it. One thing to note: all 3 titles support the Oculus Rift!
A Sci-Fi Art Lover's Dream
The art book DLC is incredibly thoughtful and awesome
While I’m on the subject of DLC’s, I’d like to give major props to Born Ready/Edge Case Games for their creation of the ebook “Art of Strike Suit Zero” AND including a version at 300dpi for printing. It is simply too freaking cool. It includes tons of concept art from every aspect of the game as well as the backstory behind world creation, artist inspiration, sketches and renders from character, ship, and weapon design, and more. It’s the best digital art book I’ve seen for a game, and I wish every game came with one. I really can’t give them enough credit for this, especially for going as far as to include a for-print version. Developers take note: we want art books!
The Strike Suit
Designed by Junji Okubo
Each game in the series features four different ship types, including the series’ namesake: the Strike Suit. This is a Japanese Mecha inspired fighter (think anime like Gundam, Macross, Aldnoah Zero) that transforms from a more typical fighter to Strike Mode, or as I call it, space robot awesomeness. In Strike Mode you trade forward speed for maneuverability (Strike Mode allows for six degree of freedom movement) and aim precision (in Strike Mode you can almost instantly lock on to enemies that you have targeted, making it much faster and easier to hit them with your primary and secondary weapons). Strike Mode is powered by Flux, which you gain from destroying enemies. Strike Mode also features unique primary and secondary weapon systems powered by Flux, so they don’t consume your ammo or ship’s energy reserves. You can kill enemies very fast in Strike Mode, making it a ton of fun. It could be argued that the Strike Suit is not the most realistic ship ever, but as I said, this series is ‘space sim lite’, with emphasis on fun rather than realism (an emphasis I very much appreciate!).
Music by legendary game composer Paul Ruskay
If you’ve read, well, practically anything I’ve written, you probably know that Paul Ruskay is the composer of some of my favorite game soundtracks. I’ve been listening to the Homeworld and Homeworld 2 soundtracks since I was 16, and the Strike Suit Zero soundtrack since I first played the game. Paul brings his incredible talent to SSZ/I, combining the electronic, orchestral, and middle-Eastern sound that is his hallmark with Japanese vocals by KOKIA, and the result is spectacular. But it gets even better: Paul was awesome enough to release Strike Suit Zero: Remixed, a collection of select tracks from the main soundtrack remixed by himself as well as several other artists. Arguably even better than the original soundtrack, at least for listening to outside of the game, it’s higher energy and grungier, and, of course, absolutely fantastic. Both soundtracks are worth every penny, grab the original here and the remix here in DRM-free FLAC or MP3 format. Paul, you’re the man.
Bottom line? Buy. Play. Listen.
It’s obvious that a great deal of effort went in to the makings of the Strike Suit series. At the time of their release, there were virtually no space games on the market, so Born Ready / Edge Case Games took a big leap of faith with this title and poured in a lot of love. They did everything right, and it turned out to be an amazing game. Strike Suit isn’t an ultra-realistic flight sim, and it’s not supposed to be. It’s an easy-to-learn, Rift-ready space arcade shooter with incredible art and one of the best soundtracks out there, with features that will keep even a hardcore gamer occupied.
Many thanks to Edge Case Games for this awesome title. Don’t forget to check out their latest game, an online space MOBA called Fractured Space. We’ll be bringing you more Fractured Space coverage soon! In the meantime, if you enjoyed this post please share, let us know what you thought in the comments, and consider helping us out on Patreon.
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