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Jul 10th

Strike Suit Zero Interview With Will Newell

Lost In Space… But Not Anymore!

Games conferences tend to be filled with the typical array of blockbuster first-person shooters, epic RPGs, intriguing strategy games and, unique to Rezzed, a whole section of indie titles. But there’s one genre that’s often been forgotten this generation: space combat simulators. Remember those?

There was a time when we couldn’t get enough of jetting into space to take down the forces of evil; gunning down metallic foes with a well-timed missile or a string of expertly aimed laser blasts – Hell, everyone knows how to do a barrel roll. But since the days of Star Fox 64 and the stellar string of Star Wars games such as Rouge Squadron and X-Wing vs. Tie Fighter, budding fighter pilots have been left to reminisce on what once was, gazing upon the stars with hope and expectation.

Imagine my surprise then, that the first booth I saw at Rezzed housed a machine gun ripping, spaceship exploding, missile launching space combat game – with a transforming ship that rained fiery destruction to boot. The refreshing sight of a craft soaring around the black, sparkly abyss of space was enough to convince me to sit down with the game and attempt to recapture my zero gravity, dog-fighting glory days.

Strike Suit Zero isn’t just a delightful dose of nostalgia; veterans and newcomers alike better be ready because the game is ready to jolt you out of hypersleep and straight into the sights of an enemy fighter. The action was noticeably smooth and responsive, with a pleasing sense of weight to the craft’s movements.

Space is awesome. Why have developers forgotten that?

I grabbed a controller and immediately the game’s HUD lit up like an angry Christmas tree. Enemies swarmed out of a large cruiser and they were agile, determined and damn fun to shoot down. Once I’d manage to maneuver my vessel into an opportune position (requiring careful control of the boost and brake) the sound effects drove home my hard earned kill with one of the meatiest sounds I’ve ever heard for a machine gun. A low, bassy rumble was accompanied by a satisfying “DUKKA-DUKKA-DUKKA!”, as my ship’s bullets ripped through the helpless enemy’s craft. Damn it felt good to be back!

As the enemies fell to my superior aviation ability, a power bar called the Rage meter began to fill. Once it was fully charged, my ship was able to transform into a doomsday bringing robot of awesomeness, much akin to something straight out of Gundam or Neon Genesis Evangelion. The transformation only lasts for a short period, so the onus is on you to quickly even the odds by taking down as many enemy fighters as possible.

The Strike Suit Zero booth was constantly busy, acting as a timely reminder that there’s still a big following for the space combat genre. After my time with the game I managed to grab an impromptu interview with Will Newell, the Marketing Assistant of Born Ready Games.

Let’s talk about Strike Suit Zero, so it’s essentially a space action game?

It’s a space action game; exactly.

There’s not many of those around now, is it bringing back the genre?

Yeah! We were getting a bit annoyed that there wasn’t any so we decided to make one.

The first thing I noticed when I saw people playing the game was that it kind of reminded me of X-Wing Vs. Tie-Fighter and Lylat Wars.

Yeah, FreeSpace Two’s been a big influence. We’ve also had collaborations with Paul Ruskay, the guy who did the music on Homeworld. The Strike Suit design itself has been done by a guy called Junji Okubo who’s worked on anime and Steel Battalion as well. We’ve tried to bring in a lot influences to make this product the next step for the genre.

Will Strike Suit Zero be exclusive to PC on Steam?

No, we’re shooting for Steam this autumn but we’re going for consoles after Christmas as well. We’re trying to cater to as many people as possible because we want to bring this genre back.

Will the game mix things up? Will you predominately stay in space or will there be land battles also?

It’s predominately in space but there are some missions where you go through space stations and tunnel runs, things like that. We’re focusing on intense dog-fighting action in the midst of these big battles between capital ships so you really feel like your part of this grandiose war that’s going on around you.

It’s missile slinging time!

Will the game feature any sort of multiplayer component?

Not yet. We’d love to do it though. We’re focusing on single-player at the moment because we want to get that as polished as it possibly can be and then we’ll see where we are from there. It’s dependant on time as well. We’d definitely love to do it, possibly in the future.

So what’s the story behind Strike Suit Zero? Is there going to be a traditional Gundam/Anime kind of feel behind it or is the game going to be more westernised?

It’s a bit more westernised. Basically, you’re part of the UNE strike force; you’re the fifth pilot of the Strike Force itself. There’s been an ongoing intergalactic war between colonies and then suddenly a third party shows up. You’ve got to try and work together to fight this new enemy.

Sounds like a co-op campaign would work well?

Yeah it certainly lends itself to that. But I don’t want to make too much work for the developers!

What specifications will PC owners need to be able to run Strike Suit Zero? It’s a really nice looking game.

Well these (the display models) are running on GeForce 670’s, so pretty good graphics cards. But obviously it’s scalable so a mid-range PC will be able to run it with no problems really. Aim for 60 frames per second ideally so you can get that responsive feel to the gameplay.

Will you be making a push for people to use joysticks for more traditional pilot controls as we’ve seen at the show?

We’re providing options for people who play on pads, people who play on mouse and keyboards, plus joysticks as well. Personally, I think the joystick’s the way to go. It’s much more immersive and it’s just more fun. It’s a different experience to what people have been used to for the last sort of five years.

There’s definitely an anime inspired theme in the game, especially how you’re ship can transform.

Yeah, a lot of the team are into their anime, so hopefully that shows through into the art style.

Will there be different types of ships and models to choose from?

There’s four different types of craft in the game that the player will be able to control. There’s the Strike Suit itself, plus you’ll be able to pilot a scout, a fighter and a bomber: the full range of the UNE fleet. It mixes up the gameplay and offers different weapons. The Strike Suit can be upgraded with various different parts, like plasma guns, adding rail guns and more missiles for example.

So is there an experience system in place?

You unlock upgrades as you complete each mission, so when you go back – because the narrative branches – you can alter how the story goes.

So the game has multiple endings?

Yeah exactly, so there’s a bit of meta game as well.

Now that definitely reminds me of Star Fox 64 how you could only go down one path at first, but depending on your playthrough could branch off into others. 

That’s right yeah! There’s a bit more freedom along the way in Strike Suit Zero.

Will there be any online leaderboard or a score attack mode in place?

I think a score attack mode is coming, but you’ll have to wait till further on when we release details on things like that closer to release date.

Fantastic! Thank you for your time!

Thank you very much. Cheers.

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