Gamescom 2012: Strike Suit Zero One Year Later
Publisher: TBD / Developer: Born Ready Games / Release Date: TBD / Platforms: XBLA, PSN, PC / ESRB: Not Yet Rated
One year ago I got my first experience with one of my favorite games of Gamescom 2011, and that was Strike Suit Zero. It was a promising downloadable space combat game with a beautiful aesthetic and wonderful ship and mecha design. It was scheduled to come out in Q1 2012, but that never happened. Then it dropped off the face of the earth, and I feared the worst.
Out of the blue, I was invited to come see the game again at this year’s show, so I jumped at the opportunity. What had happened to it? Where had it gone? Was it even the same game?
When Kuju Entertainment, owner of Doublesix (the developer behind Strike Suit Zero) decided to shift its business strategy away from the project, a cadre of the team split away and bought the rights to the game. The studio, now known as Born Ready Games, took the game in a different direction. They ditched the countdown clock from the Doublesix version. They added an overarching narrative about Earth’s space colonies in revolt and the Strike Suit Zero, an Earth prototype mecha built from alien technology that serves as the only way to stop the colonial forces. They also added a depth to the gameplay; for example, you’ll now have access to four different types of fighter, some slower and more powerful, some quicker and more agile, that can transform into the titular Strike Suit Zero. And each fighter has their own weapon armament, too, which will make for different play styles: energy weapons or machine guns? Missile or bombs or rockets?
In all, the game sounds like it’s expanded its scope significantly from the arcade-style score-attack of 2011. Born Ready wanted to add more activity in the space battle zone, making AI perform bombing runs or defense perimeters around their capital ships away from the player so that you felt like you were part of a larger conflict.
From a control perspective, the game is pretty much the same; you’ll fly through space dogfighting with enemy ships, assaulting capital cruisers (which are more than just cannon fodder now; they put up a mean flak defense with their on board guns, which are also destructible). The backgrounds are as gorgeous as they were last year, but the textures and effects do pop a lot better than I remember from the old version. And Born Ready says you’ll be taking the fight to the stars, not just in orbit around Earth, which they say has let them design some new visuals for you to jet around in. As for the Strike Suit itself, well it’s as powerful as ever. Acting as a sort of temporary overdrive mode, the Strike Suit allows you to move around in space like a third person shooter, with an arsenal of deadly weapons that can kill your enemies instantly. The more kills you chain in fighter mode, the longer you’ll be able to stay transformed, and the advantage of being able to strafe in a dogfight is an important skill to staying alive.
Space combat games are a rare breed in the modern gaming age, but Strike Suit Zero scratches that Colony Wars and Project Sylpheed itch, and for that I am very thankful. Strike Suit Zero is targeted for a downloadable, $15 release in early 2013 for consoles, with a PC version releasing slightly before that.