Defeat, on the other hand, brings with it the unique frustration that can only come from a checkpoint save system that has far too few checkpoints. Missions generally have multiple parts and often include surprises (typically thanks to the inability of your cohorts to handle even the smallest problem without your help), and failure can very easily send you back through multiple stages, forcing you to replay some rather lengthy and, after awhile, not-terribly-exciting mission segments numerous times. The eventual effect is that action-packed space battles become overlong exercises in tedium.
It's a feeling that everyone else in the game seems to share. Coming upon the remnants of the worst interstellar beatdown since the Federation and Borg exchanged pleasantries at Wolf 359, your wing leader sounds positively bored as she notes that it could well mean certain defeat in the war; the captain of a crippled capital ship being pounded by enemy fighters expresses almost as much concern about his plight as about whether he should super-size his order. It's actually distracting at first - don't these people care that doom is at hand? - but after awhile it starts to make a sort of perverse sense: You're doing all the work because nobody else in this game gives a damn what happens.
The story takes a few ludicrous twists and turns, the most contrived of them all being a rather heavy-handed nod to the great space-borne RTS Homeworld. The whole thing boasts a very powerful Homeworld vibe, in fact, both visually and aurally, and while some of the textures aren't the most detailed ever seen in a PC game, in the heat of battle, with dozens of fighters and hundreds of missiles and plasma bolts flitting between capital ships and space stations set against glorious galactic tableaus, it's hard to argue that the game looks anything but great. Less attention has been paid to the narrative that strings it all together. A good bit of exposition takes place during missions but once the action is over you're simply dumped back to a menu that allows you to replay any of the missions you've previously finished or jump into the next one in the list.
Strike Suit Zero isn't the next Freespace. The potential for frustration caused by the relative dearth of save points - and, to be frank, the ridiculous demands of your superiors and incompetence of your companions - is too high, and even though the fate of Earth itself hangs in the balance, it never manages to generate any real sense of urgency. But for flashy, pyrotechnic space battles, there is a lot here to like, and until the next Freespace comes along, it's not a bad way for long-suffering space cowboys to pass some time.
Bottom Line: Strike Suit Zero is a decent space combat sim but the strike suit angle feels forced and ungainly, and the game misses on a few too many important points to be a true contender for the crown.
Recommendation: Space jockeys who aren't too picky about how they get their fix these days should at least give it a look, but if what you really want is the experience of piloting a nimble, powerful mecha, it's a miss.
Game: Strike Suit Zero
Developer: Born Ready Games
Publisher: Born Ready Games
Available from: Amazon(US)