TheIndieJar: Strike Suit Zero Hands-On and Interview with Chris Redden
We got the opportunity to sit down and chat with Chris Redden from Born Ready while playing their new game, Strike Suit Zero. After a bit of reminiscing about Xwing vs. Tie and Freespace 2 we got down to the VERY important business of video games.
This in-development space shooter takes its cues from some very interesting places and puts them into a smooth shooting experience. The story goes a little something like this: the colonies of Earth are at war after having discovered alien technology that allows them to build a very powerful weapon, which would give anyone the edge in a war situation. After an attack on one of Earth’s research bases, you and some survivors discover the Strike Suit Zero and put it to work. There are multiple endings and you won’t be able to get the best one first time but you might after some practice. To get the best ending you have to complete a mission perfectly with all of its secondary objectives and challenges.
Gameplay wise, the mech functions as a special ability mode. It starts off as a fairly standard fighter, but when you rack up enough kills and energy you can transform into the super-powered humanoid battle suit. It has a fast firing laser machine gun and can lock on and fire multiple rockets at once, which is very satisfying when getting rid of swarms of enemies. Swing round your aiming reticule and see the little circles track the fighters. then let go of the button and a stream of explosives are loose to get rid of a clump of foes quickly. Become good enough and you will be able to spend most of the level in mech mode and get through the level faster. There is also an interceptor, a heavy fighter and a bomber that you can switch to in between levels, depending on the kind of force you will be facing – each craft has its own strategies and loadouts.
When I asked him about the lull of space shooters before he started working on the game, Redden said, “We started this two years ago and came to the conclusion that no one had made a space game in ages. So we said we think they’re really great, let’s make a space game! As for the lull, it was kind of a twofold thing. Space shooters weren’t really going anywhere visually and first-person and third-person games were becoming more groundbreaking at the time. This was being driven by consoles, and space shooters were very much a PC thing.
The fans haven’t gone away, and the popularity hasn’t either, it’s just that the market got bigger in other areas. When you’re competing for shelf space, how can you get your space game that has 200,000 fans next to something like Call of Duty which has 5 million fans? But I think there is potential for more fans, and now with digital distribution you’re not really competing with games like that any more.”
Over the course of the game there will be weapon upgrades to collect from challenges, for permanent improvements and other weapon types. There are both ammo and energy style weapons that can be switched through at the customisation screen for different ways of playing.
One of the best aethetics of the art style is that instead of having a black background with some dots on it, this game has colourful space. Streaks of red and blue nebulae fill out what would otherwise be a drab and empty backdrop. You won’t spend that much time looking at it, but it really helps bring more personality to the game. Redden said that they wanted the kind of ambience that Homeworld had and to this end they also have Paul Ruskay working on the soundtrack. Visually, Redden said they were inspired mostly by things like the new Battlestar Galactica and Star Wars. The Mecha parts were inspired by bits from the anime series Macross (or Robotech in the US). Their ship and Mech designer, Junji Okubo, also worked on Steel Battalion and Gundam and has really put a lot of his industrial and realistic style into this game. He went on to say “he has a really anime style, but he makes them really functional, which I think allows us to blend a bit of anime into the western pallet.”
Aside from the campaign they have also included small missions to show a bit of background about the war, such as how it started. Many of these will be released post-launch, along with other shorter campaigns from other perspectives. Strike Suit Zero looks to be a game that fills the niche I’ve been looking to fill since Rogue Squadron on the Gamecube and I’m really intrigued to see how it develops closer to launch.