I did not enjoy my time with this game. I feel better getting that out in the open right off the bat. So, why didn’t I enjoy it? Well let’s first cover what exactly this game is. Strike Suit Zero: Director’s Cut is a space combat game, where you fly a ship that can temporarily transform into a mech, and basically kill a lot of other ships before they kill you. It helps that the enemy can’t transform into anything, which is what makes you so special. Not your skills as a pilot, just that you happen to have this new, fancy, experimental ship.
The story is not very interesting. There is a civil war between earth and the colonies near it. You play a pilot named Adams, who has no memory for some reason, and it’s up to you to save the day. The story is mostly told to you through radio communications while you fly around, plus the occasional cutscene. Unfortunately, the story never caught my attention and I never felt any interest in the conflict I was meant to be a major part of.
As for the gameplay, you will spend most of your time in a relatively fast moving fighter ship and semi-regularly switch to your mech-mode. Between missions you also unlock different ships to use and weapons to load out. The real joy is when you get to play as a turret in the mech-mode, although there is a catch to this. Using the mech-mode costs a special resource called Flux, which you build up by shooting things in your normal fighter mode. It is also used-up relatively quickly, making the turret mode sequences short-lived.
In this form you also lose most of your maneuverability, but you gain some serious firepower and the ability to fire a barrage of homing missiles. You can also easily move your perspective to target the nearest enemy. This ability is what I found the most handy, because I honestly found the control tricky for a while and chasing down targets started to feel like a chore.
This was the first game that ever made me feel like a non-gamer picking up a controller for the first time. There just seemed to be so many buttons to press and what I had to press in order to achieve the desired action rarely felt natural. It was a strange feeling, but certainly gave me an appreciation for why my wife usually cannot enjoy games on console. The controls formed a barrier to the fun I was meant to be having.
The 13 missions in the main game have a serious lack of creativity, as every one usually boils down to “kill everything that’s trying to kill you first”. And when you’re done doing that, please kill these new things that just turned up. The Director’s cut includes some extra bonus missions, which are more interesting but also a lot more difficult. Speaking of difficult, expect to die often. The game can be quite punishing and most of the time there were so many enemies on screen, I was not sure how I was supposed to deal with the barrage of incoming fire and somehow chase after my targets at the same time. I know this is meant to be an action combat game, but for me, it was just too frantic most of the time. The poor checkpoint system didn’t help either and would often cost me 10 or 20 minutes worth of progress when I died.
The graphics are a bit of a mixed bag. Sometimes the backdrop of space and the random planets you fly near are gorgeous; however the rest of the game looks bland and I didn’t find the art-style for the ships appealing at all; the exception being the mech-mode for your ship. That was pretty cool, but still lacked the detail to make it really stand out.
The music is good and definitely noticeable in the way it was used. There were some oddities to it though where I would hear someone saying something that I couldn’t make out and for a few seconds wondered if it was part of the music or my character was meant to be hearing voices. Sadly, it was part of the music, because the hearing voices thing could have made the story more interesting.
If you are into space combat action (and that’s all you are looking for) then Strike Suit Zero: Director’s Cut might just scratch that itch for you. It’s not a bad game and the general combat can have moments of fun. But as I said at the start, most of the time when I was playing this title, I just kept thinking to myself “I am not enjoying this and would rather be doing something else right now”. Take that for what you will.